You see your dreams in the distance. Do you ever wonder what that moment really feels like? Do you ever watch a huge game on television and wonder, “Wow, the pressure that person has on their shoulders if they don’t get this hit, this out, or hit this shot?”Do you ever wonder what really goes on in that athlete’s head? Well lets puts this into perspective for you. You get the call from the General Manager of a professional baseball team. He tells you will be pitching for the first time in front of 25,000 people and you are expected to be perfect… A lot of pressure right?
Meet Tony Cingrani a rookie left-handed pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds who just so happens to play for one of baseball’s top team in the league right now.
“It was one the happiest moments in my life. I remember going into our skips office, sitting down with our pitching coach, assistant GM and GM and it being quiet for a while until Walt (the GM) said, “I think you can help our bullpen…Tuesday you’re going up to Cincinnati.” It took me a while to take it all in but after I realized it was real I got up shook every one’s hand and left the room to grab a towel. I walked out by the bay next to our field and sat on a bench. I must had cried for about 10 minutes. The realization of your childhood dream is indescribable. I felt pure joy.”
On September 9th 2012, that pure joy would turn into reality as Head Coach for the Reds, Dusty Baker, would call upon Tony Cingrani to warm-up in the 4th inning against the Houston Astros. Tony was not expecting to pitch in this game at all, but like they say, when you least expect things to happen they indeed do happen. As Tony attempted to tie his shoes for several minutes just to calm the nerves before making his warm-up pitches in the bullpen, his veteran teammates were joking around and making comments to him saying” your shoes aren’t tied, rookie?” Somehow Tony found a way to just laugh it off and tell them “don’t worry about it, I got this guys”. Resuming to warm up and admitting that his nerves were not playing a role, Tony found it in him to stay confident and relax in the moment.
When the time came to go on the field Tony told himself to not let his mind get caught up on the fact that it was his major league debut. As he ran to the mound on the field, Tony looked into the crowd to see over twenty thousand people there. As he began throwing his warm-up pitches he described the moment as euphoric. “It’s the calmest place on earth.” Tony said. “The noise of the crowd was like a white noise, I couldn’t hear a single person. I thought to myself again, this is no different than any other game I’ve thrown in… The hitters may be better, lets see how good these guys really are”.
Tony went on to collect his first Major League strike out and was able to hold on to the Red’s lead for the rest of the game.
“It is an adrenaline rush when your playing ball at that stage. You want to succeed every moment but yet you know chances are always against you in this game. It is one of the hardest games to play and a lot of people do not understand that. From the physical part to the mental part it beats you down and many players can’t handle it. It’s easy to go to a baseball field, warm up, work out and watch baseball every day. To do it day in and day out for almost 200 days or so, it gets extremely tiring. My body stays relatively strong but my body never feels 100 percent when I play. There’s always an ache or pain somewhere. The hardest is traveling. Some bus trips are as long as 14 hours and after playing games, those can be the absolute worst. When you are always on the road it gets hard when there is nothing to eat but McDonald’s. Basically, you do whatever you need to do to stay on that field. It’s the most enjoyable job in the world, but its still a job and there’s someone always trying to take my spot.”
For Tony, getting the opportunity to come to a field and perform your special talents and showcase all of your hard work you have put in throughout your years of playing is priceless, but the one thing Tony will never forget is his family, friends, coaches, teammates, dreams, and his passions. Tony lives for this moment.
The Support Team
“My whole family has been the support team for me. They always keeps me grounded and I could never thank them enough for everything they have given me. I am truly blessed to have my family and the success I have had thus far.”
Tony’s father, who has been a huge inspiration for his success, has always been a man who worked day in and day out and always contributing to Tony’s future and endeavors. “My dad is my hero. He has worked over 40 years and still goes in regardless the weather, his health or any situation. He doesn’t complain, he doesn’t use excuses, he just does his job. He is the hardest working man I know and because of his work ethic it gave me the ability to appreciate hard work and what it could do for you in the long run.” Mr. Cingrani has been by Tony’s side all his life and knew he had the skills to become something special. He has been giving him motivation and the support and now is watching Tony live up that same dream he had as a child.
While Tony enjoyed watching the sport everyday as a kid he said the main aspect of the game he found most interesting was watching all of the different left handed pitchers work and play the game. “Each lefty had their own style and unique way of performing, I wanted to study them and find my own style. I believe by doing that it helped separate me from other left hand pitchers out there.”
Tony, like many kids, played ball in little league and made his way up to high school where he played at Lincoln Way Central in New Lenox, Illinois. Soon after he graduated, he committed to South Suburban College where he played under Steve Ruzich and led the Bulldogs to a Regional Championship. When his two years were up at the Chicago-land Junior College, Tony was given a scholarship to play at Rice University in Texas. Tony would then later get drafted in his senior year by the Cincinnati Reds and play a huge role in their farm system becoming their number one go to guy for back-up in the bullpen for the 2012 Major League Playoffs. Tony is finishing up the full season with the Reds now and will be keeping active with the Reds throughout the post-season run. Follow Tony and the Reds as they push for a National League Championship.
For the youngsters: Advice
“Depending on how young they are, I would say have fun playing sports and don’t worry about much until high school. Get committed and work hard your freshman year. Start getting stronger and learning the game at that level and as you get older you’ll pick up different philosophies along the way. Listen to everyone and take bits and pieces and make your own philosophy. If you aren’t the most athletic or the strongest, find the thing that you do well and do it better than anyone. Another thing is when opportunities come about, take advantage. You never know when they will arise, so make no matter what, hustle.” -Tony Cingrani