Email from John Axford (Port Dover Minor Baseball)

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Email from John Axford to Port Dover Minor Baseball for Award Ceremony 2010

From: John Axford

Sent: Wednesday, September 08, 2010 5:39 AM

Subject: Minor Ball

Port Dover Minor Baseball,

I understand you're having your awards night soon and just hoped that I could lend a few

words of encouragement and congratulations for every player.

Firstly, I would like to congratulate every player for competing in a full summer of Minor

Ball. I remember playing in Port Dover Minor Baseball all the way back to Rookie Ball.

I started when I was young and played all the way through to Midget. It wasn't always

easy but I loved playing every year. I remember years when we would win tournaments

and thought we had a shot at winning the Southern Counties or even the OBA's but we

would come up just a little short. I remember losing in the OBA Championship game

TWICE. Once in Pewee and once in Bantam. I also remember how much that hurt,

especially the Bantam year. I remember how upset our coaches were because they knew

how hard we worked. I wanted to win so bad. My teammates wanted to win so bad. It

was heartbreaking. But despite those loses and despite the disappointment I kept playing.

Those loses showed me how much I actually loved baseball. If a baseball game could

make me as sad as I felt in those moments, I could only hope and dream how I would feel

if we won it all. And the next 2 years, when I was a Midget, we won the OBA's! The

first year we hosted the tournament in Port Dover. I was the pitcher on the mound and

struck out the final hitter of the game. It was over 10 years ago for me and I can

remember it perfectly. It was a low and away fastball to a right handed hitter. He swung

and missed. Strike three! All my teammates from the dugout came running out and we

celebrated right there on the field. It was the best baseball moment of my life.

The following year we went into a higher division (B Division) and played the OBA's in

Brantford. Once again, I was the pitcher on the mound. I remember throwing the pitch,

trying as hard as I could to strike the batter out. Instead, he hit the fastball to our second

baseman who threw him out at first. We were champions once again! And, once again, I

got to see my teammates run out of the dugout with arms open ready to celebrate. We

went through so much over the years to try and get to that moment and we finally did it.

Even though I've grown up and moved on from Port Dover Minor Baseball, I still

remember all the moments. I remember the Mosquito cheers. I remember taking pitches

from the pitching machine. I remember trying to be a catcher, and I was absolutely

terrible at it! And remember pitching for the first time off the big mound and wondering

if I could even get it to home plate. In fact, I still have the ball from the final out of our

OBA championship. I had every coach and teammate sign it and it is sitting in a case on

a trophy self in my house. It is one the best baseballs that I have.

I loved my years of Baseball in Port Dover. It helped me find friends that I still keep up

with toady. It helped me play for Team Ontario, which helped me play for team Canada,

and that helped me get a scholarship for Baseball in the States. If it wasn't for Port Dover

Minor Baseball I wouldn't be where I am right now. Tonight (Tuesday, September 7th), I

pitched in a game for the Milwaukee Brewers vs. the St. Louis Cardinals. I struck out 2

hitters, including Albert Pujols, one of baseball's best hitters. But the best moment of the

night was that I also got to witness Trevor Hoffman's 600th save. The most in the history

of major league baseball. And the only reason I was able to pitch in that game and be a

part of major league baseball history, was because I worked as hard as I could through

everything that I did. Through school and through baseball, I gave it everything I had so

I knew I wouldn't have any regrets. I had some setbacks and problems along the way,

including surgery on my elbow, but I never gave in or gave up.

If I can tell you anything it would be this; Don't give up! Baseball will be tough. Just

like life and just like school. Give it everything you've got and never look back. Go for

whatever dreams you have. Dream big and do everything you can to get there no matter

what the dream is. Life is going to be hard but the harder you work the easier it will be.

Enjoy every moment of playing baseball. Enjoy every year, every game, every out, and

every pitch. It's a humble game and it's a great game, and you never know when it can

change your life. Baseball has completely changed my life and I love every moment, and

these moments are only possible because of Port Dover Minor Baseball.

Keep working hard, keep playing hard, and good luck.

John Axford