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About You Go Pro Baseball - John Madden
Hello and welcome to You Go Pro Baseball. My name is John Madden and this is my website and blog. I want to take a second to tell you a little more about myself so that you feel comfortable browsing the information and know where it came from.
I was born in Northern New Jersey and lived there for the first few years of my life. I have a huge respect for New Jersey baseball and the players that come from there. Although New Jersey baseball is (in my opinion) one of the best in the country, it does not come close to Florida baseball.
I moved to central Florida when I was 5 years old and played my first season of tee ball. I was good at the game, but didn't fall in love with it at the time. I just loved playing anything and being outside.
It wasn't until highschool that I really fell in love with the game of baseball. We had a good coach and a team full of friends. I think I fell in love with the comradary of the team more than I did the game at this point. I felt that highschool baseball was the only thing in the world that matter and I was ready to die for it. I think the rest of my team felt the same way, and that's why we were so good (and a little crazy too).
I never really had any instruction up through that point in my life. I never had a lesson and only went to one or two camps, which were really showcases. I came from a working class family who didn't know much about baseball so I was just taking the route of my life and playing because I was good, not because someone told me to.
Towards the end of my senior year, my coaches started getting on me to go play baseball in college. At the time, I was just ready to graduate highschool and get a job. I really didn't know any better. I didn't know that you could get a scholarship for playing baseball and go to college for free. Well, I knew, I just didn't know how to make it happen.
We were a small school from a small town so it wasn't like coaches were knocking at my door to play for them. I made it to the highschool All-Star game where I pitched two innings. A coach from a local community college came to me and a friend and asked us to come to one of his tryouts. I never made it to the tryout. A very dumb move because that was one of my only opportunites to continue playing, nevertheless I still made the team. I guess the coach liked what he saw in the All-Star game and although he was pissed at me for not going to his tryout, I think it worked out for the best because he offered me a full scholarship anyway. Maybe he thought I had other teams that I was more interested in. Who knows?
We had a great team in community college and even made it to the College World Series, something the school had never done in its history. I fell even more in love with the idea of teammates and comradary and baseball too. I had two of the most fun years of my life playing community college baseball and recommend it to any player who is considering it over a four year university off the bat.
Don't get me wrong, my four year University experience was amazing! I just loved the community college experience more. I attended Auburn University in Alabama for the next two years of college while on the path to obtaining an Economics degree and playing baseball. I had a horrible Junior season and had even thought about giving baseball up. Instead of quitting, I talked myself in to sticking it out and just playing my senior season for fun. Boy was it fun! I had the best season of my life!
Pitching 86 relief innings of college baseball, I learned a lot about how much your arm can handle. Staying below a 1.00 ERA until the very last game of the season (I gave up 7 earned...ouch!), I ended with a 1.77 ERA. That night was horrible, it was like a bad break up. The game I had come to love had just dumped 7 earned runs on me in the last game of the best season of my life. I got over it when I realized that I may get a chance to play professional baseball.
Earning All-SEC, All-American, different relief pitching awards, and setting all kinds of records was nothing compared to the feeling I had on draft day. I was still at school and couldn't go home until the day of the draft. I drove home so fast only answering the phone calls that came from my family and close friends to hear updates of the draft and if I had been selected. It was a 7 hour drive, but couldn't have timed out more perfect.
As I pulled up to my parents home in Central Florida, said hello to my father and one friend that was there, not 5 minutes went by when I heard my name on the radio. The San Diego Padres selected me in the 8th round of the 2005 draft. We grabbed my little sister and went to eat lunch at where my mother worked as a waitress.
The first two years in pro baseball I felt pretty dominant and thought I had a good chance at making it to the Big Leagues. I was learning so much new stuff that I never learned before and as good as my senior season was, I was getting better.
I earned the "best pitcher" award in 2006 (my second pro season) and was even topping out at 96 mph and my slider had never felt better. My third season I started off feeling great, even better than the year before but had some back troubles half way through the season. I finised that season out not doing so well and backed that up with a mediocre season finishing in triple A the year after.
However, I must have impressed someone along the way because the New York Mets purchased my contract from the San Diego Padres in the Triple A phase of the Rule 5 draft. My shoulder was hurting at the time, but thought that it would go away by Spring Training, it didn't. I pitched with the worst pain in my life that Spring Training and dominated throwing about 85 mph. I made the Double A team for the Mets but my shoulder was still killing me. I threw well for the first month of that season, continuing my zero earned runs through spring and about 9 innings of double A. Then the wheels came off.
I couldn't handle the pain anymore and it was getting worse and worse, as was my ERA. Finally I had no stre