Today’s guest post is brought to you by Brandon Sneed, a freelance journalist living in Wilmington, NC. He is the author of The Edge of Legend: An Incredible Story of Faith and Basketball (Port 2010). He blogs at brandonsneed.com. Go order a copy of his book so he can keep enjoying life’s luxuries, like, you know, food. Order online at Amazon.com or from Port City Publishing for an autographed edition.
I could fill a book about what The Edge of Legend did to me. That’s part of what made its story so powerful, part of why I knew I had to tell it.
Since I want to keep this short, I’ll just tell a story.
Heading into college six years ago, I thought I’d become a pro baseball player. I was a catcher, and darn studly. Instead, I mostly rode the bench. I had a few brilliant days and weeks, but mostly I sucked. It wasn’t because I wasn’t good. It was because I was scared.
It got so bad that I couldn’t even throw the ball back to the pitcher. It went everywhere but to the guy’s chest. It was bad. It was painful. It was humiliating. And the more I tried to fix it, the worse it got.
We baseball players call it “the yips.” And dude, I was yippin’ hard.
I could blast batting practice pitches 500 feet with no problem. I had the strongest arm on the team. But that 60-foot toss back to the pitcher—it terrified me. It was so embarrassing when it went wrong. Who can’t throw the ball 60 feet? It carried over into everything else, eating at my game like a cancer.
My sophomore year, as sports editor for the school newspaper, I wrote a lot about the guy who would become the inspiration for The Edge of Legend. For the first time in my life, I had found something that was, to me, bigger than baseball. (If you watch the clip of his national championship comeback on YouTube, you’ll see a small part of why.)
It took me back to the days before I ever picked up a ball or a glove, the days I’d spend reading book after book. It reminded me of my true passion: Stories.
The final semester of my senior year, I started working on The Edge of Legend. When I graduated, I hadn’t landed a book deal. In a fit of insanity, I turned down newspaper jobs and decided to freelance so I could keep writing it. To that end, I set an absurd goal: Be writing for Sports Illustrated or ESPN The Magazine, the two biggest sports magazines in America, within two years of graduating.
Again I faced fear and terror. If the book failed, I would have wasted two years of my life. But when I graduated, remembering baseball, I swore to never let fear be what stopped me. I tried to get my wife to talk me out of it. She believed in me more than I did.
The book was published in September 2010. Along the way, I saw God. I saw Him in how much my wife believed in me. My faith was my light, yeah, but she was my anchor. This book showed me her love. And the story it told rekindled my confidence.
This book showed me who in my life I could really depend on, and Who was really worth living for. It showed me that I really lived to tell good stories.
Don’t get me wrong—I still love sports. My brother is now a pitcher in the Yankees’ minor league system.
We had an alumni game last year. I caught the whole game. Never threw the ball away. Never was scared that I would. (And I hit a ball off the wall off my brother. So yeah, he might be a pro throwing 95 mph, but I’ll always be the big brother.)
For six years, I chased the baseball dream. It didn’t work out. That crushed me. But along the way, I found a new dream, a vision—a life—even better.
And, oh yeah, I just got my first major assignment from ESPN The Magazine.
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Just a quick reminder that the votes have been tallied and the next installment of the You Decide story will be posted tomorrow. It’s basically a story that I write, but at key points I let the readers decide what will happen. Check out the first installment, as well as the possible scenarios for tomorrow’s post, HERE.