Gosewisch: Why I'm proud to be a journeyman
An 11th-round pick by the Phillies in the 2005 MLB Draft, Tuffy Gosewisch has spent 15 years in professional baseball, playing 137 career big league games in parts of five seasons with the D-backs (2013-16) and Mariners ('17). He's currently playing with the San Antonio Missions, the Brewers' Triple-A affiliate.
Journeyman: A player who is reliable, but not outstanding
I’ve gone through 14 Spring Trainings, played for six organizations and have three years of Major League service time. I’m a journeyman and I’m proud of it.
Every single day of each of those springs, I woke up before sunrise to be at the field early to make sure to get the most out of that day. Does this make me special? Depends who you ask.
Ask a fan or journalist and they will probably tell you no. I’m not big, I’m not strong and I’m not fast. I don’t walk enough. My WAR isn’t high enough. And my slugging percentage is too low in a day and age when home runs are valued above all else.
Ask my kids, though, and you’ll get a different answer. They’ll tell you that hitting Wiffle balls in the backyard with me is peak existence. That going to park and playing hide and seek is way better than watching nine innings of baseball.
Some people use the term journeyman like it is a negative. I’ve never understood that. I am proud to have that title. I earned that title.
A journeyman goes to whatever team needs him and helps that team win no matter what it takes. He does his job because it is the right thing to do. Period. What other reason do you need?
Journeymen live each day as though it could be the last game of their career. Why? Because it could be.
It is similar to the concept of “Memento Mori” -- literally, “remember that you must die” -- in Stoicism. Marcus Aurelius wrote that “You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think.” Replace the word “life” with “your career” and you have the journeyman’s mindset.
For some guys the game is easy. I wish I was one of those guys. I wish I was fast enough to beat out infield grounders. I wish my swing was so naturally good that I didn’t have to study video of it every single day. I wish that I threw 99 MPH off the mound.
Instead, I have to fight every single day to just be a player that could possibly be in the big leagues. And you know what? I’m happy that’s the case, because I know that I have been tested over and over again, and that no matter what is thrown at me I will find a way to do the best that I can.
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I may not win an MVP or batting title, but I will come to park every day with a great attitude and do everything in my power to make my team better.
In fact, I feel bad for those who have never been tested in that way, because they may never discover what they are truly capable of.
I have played with Hall of Famers, and with guys who deserve to be in the big leagues but never got the break they deserved. The respect that I have for the journeyman of any sport is greater, because they are the people willing to come to work day in and day out no matter the circumstances, to become better.
Guys like my close friend Erik Kratz, who was drafted in 2002 out of Eastern Mennonite University. He didn’t debut until he was 30 years old and has continued to outlast the vast majority of catchers who came into the game at the same time he did.
Erik has been through Spring Training 17 times, for 12 different organizations, played for nine different teams in the big leagues, and he and his family have moved 91 times.
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The work Erik and others like him put in every single day to become better at his position and to stay healthy each year is something that goes almost completely unrecognized. Not to mention the stress put on his family of the constant uncertainty. Without the support of everyone around him, he would not even be able to pursue his dream.
He is what we should all aspire to. Because very few of us will get the five-year extension worth over $100 million.
We should all look to become just 1percent better each day. Imagine how good you can be after a year of becoming just 1 percent better each day.
Imagine how good it would feel to lay your head down on your pillow each night knowing you have done all you can to become the best version of yourself.
There is always someone out there looking to take your job. I can’t count the number of times I have been lifting or on a treadmill, looking in a mirror and telling myself, “You are truly unstoppable. There is someone out there right now working harder than you who is looking to take your job. Looking to take food off of your table. Are you going to let them do that to you? Or are you going to work harder than anyone else and not allow that to happen?”
A journeyman will not allow that to happen without doing everything in his power to stop it.
So, when you’re watching a game take a look at the players you normally don’t even think about and appreciate what they do. Appreciate that without them the team you love would not be the team you love. That there are guys playing that don’t need the recognition, but still deserve it.
-- As told to MLB.com reporter Steve Gilbert