Legends On Deck

LOD Exclusive Interview: Indians Greg Allen Appreciates The Path To The Majors

Photo by Mathew Carper/LOD

Oftentimes, getting into baseball seems simple. You grow a love for it and convince your parents to put you in T-ball, and that’s how the story began for Greg Allen. Playing now as the Cleveland Indians center fielder, Allen has had his fair share of experience in the baseball community. It began at a young age with T-ball and quickly escalated. After graduating from high school, Allen moved onto play for San Diego State University until he was drafted by the Cleveland Indians, where he continued to move up in the organization.

As mentioned, Greg Allen began baseball at a young age, but as every young kid who has played baseball has learned, the love of the game is found in multiple different ways. When asked how Allen found baseball as his passion personally, he stated, “It was at a really really early age, and from what I can remember, or at least the way that my dad explains it, I happened to be watching a game on TV. I was only four or five at the time and for some reason it just sparked my interests. I somehow convinced my dad to get me a ball and I started T-ball. There wasn’t really anyone in my family who really took onto baseball that much. I guess I had cousins that played but it really wasn’t something that was too common at the time. Something that my dad wasn’t that familiar with, but he decided to so I started playing t-ball and loved it ever since.” Even with the slightest chances of recognizing the game, Allen has no regrets.

Although no one in his family had previously played baseball to the extent he wished to, Greg didn’t have to go through the battle of playing alone. When asked who helped him the most in reaching the final destination, Allen states, “I would have to say my parents, my mom and dad.” He continues, “Growing up everything that they had to do to provide, like taking me to practices and all of the sacrifices that they made so that I could shape my dreams. None of that would be possible without them.”

Of course, everyone who discovers something they love wants to make it to the highest level. Everyone wants to play for their dream team, everyone wants to have their name on the billboards but it doesn’t always happen. When asked if he expected to get to the majors when the journey first began, Greg responded with, “I think that was a dream, having the opportunity to do this. Did I necessarily know the ABC steps to get myself there? Not entirely and again I am fortunate and blessed to have the parents and the support system with my family and coaches that I did growing up to help me make some of those decisions to get here. It definitely was not something that I was able to do and accomplish on my own. Again, it took a whole lot of help and time and effort and care and sacrifices made by people around me so it was definitely something that I had a passion for and hope that I was going to be able to do it. I was fortunate to be able to find a way to do that.” As stated, Greg Allen always wanted to play in the majors, but he couldn’t have done it alone.

You can never guarantee your dream will come true. As with any sport, you have to have your backup plan. No matter how much you may want to play professionally, you can never guarantee it. When asked if there was any backup plan, anything other than baseball that truly sparked his interest, when asked if he had something else in mind for his future, Allen said, “No. I think that everyone has things that interest you and different passions, so even growing up baseball was one of my top passions. Just playing and watching kids growing up. Playing high school was always a dream of mine. To maybe one day make it to the major leagues and play professional baseball, but there’s always other things that will peak your interest. There was one point in time where I thought it would be really neat to be a lawyer if I had the opportunity to go to law school and be able to do all of that. That just extends from going in between topics and things like that, but being a lawyer was something that was in one of my interests as well.”

Of course, starting young with a dream always pushes you to make it a reality. Especially as a young child, Allen knew he wanted to play baseball. Now, as one of few who are given the chance to play in the majors, when asked for a single piece of advice, Greg states, “I would say to learn how to appreciate the work and appreciate the process. You know, everyone sets goals for themselves whether it’s they want to accomplish a certain something, you want to hit this average, anything! Whatever any case and goal, that end result is going to oftentimes be the product for whatever work you’re willing to put in.”

Hard work and determination is the key for success. Allen continues, “That process as a whole and you have that process, you can appreciate it. I think you’ll find that you’re able not only to accomplish not only that goal, but that you exceed them and even surprise yourself at what you’re able to do. The different levels that you’re able to get to and you’re able to accomplish. Just really learn to explore that process and what it means to work.”

Oftentimes when I ask this question, I receive a relatively similar answer. I believe every baseball player can agree as well. Your teammates make the game worth playing. They help to create the fun and joy you hold for the game. “For me what I’ve enjoyed most about it is some of the relationships and memories and bonds that I’ve been able to build and hold until today through baseball. Both moments on the field, whether it’s winning a game or a championship in college, or things that you experience off the field like spending so much time with a similar group of guys that you are able to build memories with that you can cherish forever. Even your downsides whether it’s while you travel or while you’re at home, your off days in the locker room. I think  just the relationships and the bonds that you build that end up being there and continuing even after you stop playing the game.” Is Allen’s response when asked what his favorite part of baseball is.

The baseball field is not only the destination where a worldwide famous sport is held, it is also where the players transition to their inner baseball star. When asked what Greg Allen’s first thought when he steps onto the field is, he responded with, “For me, once you cross those lines you kind of flip the switch and it’s time to compete. You try to allow practices, throughout your pregame stuff to take over at that point. You’re not really thinking too much, just about being to the best of your abilities and being there for your teammates. Just doing the best you can to help your team win.” That switch is what allows Allen to forget everything else that is going on.

When asked what personally he believes sets baseball apart from other sports, Allen states, “I think just how difficult it is to be successful. You look at other sports probably across the board outside of a few. I can’t really think of any other major sport where you do something 3 out of 10 times and are considered successful. That’s thirty percent you know! If you are applying basketball and you’re shooting free throws at a thirty percent rate, or you’re making baskets at a thirty percent rate, that’s probably not going to be considered very good. If you’re playing football and you’re a quarterback and you’re only completing thirty percent of your passes, that’s not something that’s going to allow you to be successful. In baseball it’s different because of how hard it is to do something like getting a hit. Doing that and only being successful thirty percent of the time, you are some of the best in the world! That’s definitely one of the major things that sets us apart.”

Often times failure is looked at as a bad thing. In baseball, however, failure is the above average result. It’s not everyday that you can go to a basketball game and only make three baskets out of ten shots and be considered one of the best players.

Once you begin working through the professional baseball lineup, everything changes, You go from playing in the local states or your conference to playing everyone in the U.S. You will meet players from Asia or even people as close to you as your neighboring states. Either way, you always meet more and more people who love the sport just as much as you. Allen shared, “Just the opportunity that it gives for multiple reasons. We get to play a game for a living and it’s very true obviously, it’s just a little different at the professional level with being a business as well. You still get to play for the love of the game and it’s an opportunity that not many people get to do. You know only the top five to three percent of players if not less, who actually make it to the professional level and even less of those who make it to the major level. That’s an extreme blessing. Just being able to get to have that opportunity and to be fortunate enough to be able to experience that.” When asked what he cherishes the most about being a player.

Not every player has played college baseball. It’s not rare to find someone who has played high school, however. When asked the biggest difference between college baseball and major league baseball Greg begins, “One of the main differences is just the dynamic that each level works under. College is similar to high school a little bit, where you have your freshman, sophomores, juniors, and seniors let’s say. Guys are competing and fighting for starting spots, or you know roles on the team.”

He continues with, “The team dynamic is just a little bit different, similar to what you would experience in high school or travel ball, at the professional level because of the way that it works with there being multiple levels, multiple teams. Everyone is kind of striving to make it to that major leagues, not that you lose that sense of team aspect, I think it just evolves. You’ll see guys over time that kind of move up and down, back and forth, so you may not always be playing with the same guys all the time. Guys are traded, this and that but I think at the heart of it you still have to keep that team aspect the best that you can. Even if the faces on the team might change you still have to learn to be there for your teammates. I think that aspect of it is very similar to college even if you begin as a freshman, you get to your sophomore year and now you’re going to have new freshman coming in or you’ll have transfers or people who weren’t on the team before. You still have to get everyone molded in that same mentality, so whereas the main differences are based on the levels that keep moving up through the sport that also creates the similarities as well.”

Allen may not have grown up with baseball as the obvious choice due to family members, but he did discover it on his own. As he continues to improve on the field, Allen is a player who has worked hard to earn his spot. With baseball being his passion, Greg Allen has made huge strides to get to where he is today, and you can guarantee he won’t stop now.

Myleigh Carper
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