- WBC: America’s Pastime or Latin America’s?
- Prospects On Deck: Jorge Alfaro – Phillies C
- Legends on Deck The Podcast: Episode 6, The Business of Baseball
- The Dark Knight’s Next Evolution: From Hurler to Pitcher
- A Bloop And A Blash – Exclusive Interview With Padres Slugger Jabari Blash
- Atlanta Braves Prospects – Third Basemen
Eddie Grimaldo: The Struggle Is Real
- Updated: January 3, 2017
My journey began on a late Friday night on November 8, 1991 in Houston, Texas, as I nearly kicked my way out of my mother’s womb. Early in my childhood, my kindergarten teacher noticed I was hyperactive and always getting into trouble with throwing things. She was a die-hard Houston Astros fan and suggested to my parents that baseball would be a good fit, so my dad started practicing with me and my parents have supported me ever since.
In my first year of tee-ball, I played the outfield and one time I hopped the outfield fence and left because they wouldn’t hit the ball to me. I was moved to shortstop and that became my primary position. I became a pitcher too; I really just threw a palm-ball as hard as I could, that was the best way I could grip the ball at the time. I didn’t learn to throw a ball with a four seam grip until after little league. I played well and had lots of fun.
Outside the field, I would come home from school, go straight outside and grab a broomstick or tree branch and hit rocks as far as I could. I’d also ride my bike or go play with friends around the neighborhood. Nintendo was a must and everybody had a basketball net in the street or driveway too, or we’d go to a churchyard or someplace and play ball.
Around the time I started high school I had already played lots of select “travel” ball with various teams and a bit of men’s league too. I was playing center field and still pitching by then, and I also was experimenting with switch hitting for the first time. I went to Milby High School and made the varsity squad during my sophomore year as a switch hitter. I played well in my high school career, made the District team every year and won some team awards, which led to getting scholarship offers from several schools. Unfortunately, my senior year in the playoffs, I injured an elbow ligament pitching and was terrified I would need Tommy John surgery. The trainer told me it was just tendinitis, but it hurt to even lift my arm. I felt the tear and it felt hot, like it was bleeding inside and it was cold outside. My ligament suffered major tears, nonetheless, I didn’t get surgery and let it heal in its own.
In college, I played NAIA ball, as my hitting was average, making me re-consider my decision to be a switch hitter. I transferred to another school and stayed batting right-handed. Right before my senior season started, I fouled a ball off my shin really hard in a practice game and after a few weeks it needed to be drained with minor surgery. It cost me the season and I decided not to go back to school.
After college, my passion and drive to play baseball with the best players around the world motivated me to work harder to play in the majors. I went to several try-outs, but I didn’t get signed even though I felt I did well, then I went to an Independent League tryout and got an invite. From the spring league, I got offered a contract to play for Santa Fe Fuego in the Pecos League. My time spent there was great and got my first taste of pro ball.
I visualized my first game a lot, even before spring training. I vividly visualized starting center field and hitting a home run in my first at-bat as a lead-off batter. That became a reality opening day in Santa Fe., as the third pitch I saw, I crushed it over the center field fence. Following that, the 3rd, 4th and 5th batters hit consecutive home runs to start our season. Towards the end of that season, I was released and sent to the Las Cruces Vaqueros and finished off the season there, learning a lot about myself as a player and an athlete. A big challenge for me was keeping a good diet on a very very low-budget. Those of you who have played in the Pecos League know what I’m talking about. I met great players and saw good competition, It was a very fun year with lots of good experiences.
After college, my passion and drive to play baseball with the best players around the world motivated me to work harder to play in the majors.
During the off-season, I trained and practiced religiously, I was very motivated and focused. I started working at Player 1st training facility giving private lessons to help me financially. I got in contact with other players that were on the grind and we started a daily training routine. I also entered a new business as an independent insurance agent, trying sales and even gave network marketing a try.
Living a life of an athlete and a being self-employed is no easy task. Things get hectic, but I embraced the grind, gave thanks to God and prayed for strength. Later that winter a coach got me in contact with a scout from Mexico and I was signed early this year by Pericos de Puebla in the Mexican League and I played in Liga Norte with Algodoneros de San Luis, which is equivalent to playing in Triple A in an MLB organization. It’s been the highest level of pro ball I’ve played yet.
I battled my way through spring training and earned the center field/lead off spot on Opening Day. I kept working hard with a goal in mind, to play at the international level with Mexico. I learned a lot from players with experience like veterans Kyle Farnsworth and “Cuco” Cervantes, some former MLB guys too. I got a better taste of being a professional ball payer and the passion pierced through my bones. Sometime around mid-season, I faced another challenge, I was released by Puebla and sent home. It was my second time being released and I was embarrassed to go home, feeling like a failure.
I got home and I didn’t immediately get a regular job, I started grinding. I looked up at the standings of all independent leagues and started calling teams, leaving messages and sending emails that went unanswered. Some coaches referred me to others and so on. I called anyone that might have a connection or might need a player. There has been many broken promises, everyone seems to be able to get you a spot somewhere until it comes down to it. I can count on my hand the number of people that have stayed true to their word and I am genuinely grateful for those blessings.
I went to a try-out for the American Association and I did really well, expecting a call back I got nothing, no open doors. I was put on a “list” instead. I’m no stranger to tryouts, I once told a coach that I’m already on those lists, will he sign me or should I keep looking? Gas money, hotel money, food, tryout fees? Yeah, I’m broke so that makes a dent in my bank account. I took advantage of the time to get stronger/faster/better and more prepared. I looked up new workouts and alternative training exercises that would make me better. I keep a religious batting practice routine and I spend hours doing film work. I became more obsessed with hitting and improving my mental game.
While I’ve been training, I play in an adult league in Houston to stay sharp. I had a couple opportunities of playing winter ball in Mexico, but that fell through. I called other Mexican league managers looking for an opportunity in Liga Mexicana Pacífico, but I was unsuccessful in getting a spot or even a try-out. Right now for me winter is a time that’s for sowing what I will reap in spring because, I am putting in long focused hours at the training grounds, while putting in hours of healthcare work to reap benefits next year and also doing all my baseball lessons one day a week. It’s two separate lifestyles I have to manage and be successful at once.
Right now I am a free agent, and excited to play this spring. I have faith that wherever I’m going to play, it’s going to be another great chapter on the road to conquering my dreams.
From A Players Eyes is a feature that shares the baseball players Journey’s in their own words of whom are still working towards their dreams of playing Major League Baseball, as well as those that never got the chance and had to leave the game they love behind. Read their stories only at Legends on Deck.