Nevada hosted the thirty-seventh annual Bobby Dolan Baseball Dinner where George Brett, hall-of-famer and thirteen-time Major League Baseball All-Star, spoke to Nevada baseball athletes, staff and community members.
Brett reflected on his experiences growing up and how he really wasn’t the best suited to play college ball.
“I didn’t have a lot of power, didn’t run real fast, I was kind of a late bloomer, and I think the Royals saw that in me when college coaches didn’t see that in me,” George said.
At the time Brett was drafted, he was 5 feet 10 inches and 170 pounds. Being a team player was the main life lesson Brett learned throughout his baseball career.
Although he never played in college, he still had a great amount of advice to give the Nevada baseball team about things he had learned from the sport.
When Brett was drafted, players were approximately getting paid $15,000. Now, the minimum is around $600,000.
George met with the players before the dinner and told them to “go out there and give it their best” and “give it as much as you got for as long as you can” on the field. He also gave some hitting tips and joked about the fact that “nobody ever listens to anyways.”
Some of Brett’s goals while playing were to have the most fun, hustle the most and try the hardest.
“First, to me it was always winning and losing and my performance came second,” George said. “If I had a good game, if I went three for four and the team lost, I wasn’t happy. If I went OH for four and the team won, I was happy.”
Having a short memory and taking care of oneself were also tips Brett mentioned for how to move on from a game, since athletes play many consecutive games.
While in the minors, Brett gave himself five years to make it to the major leagues. The Kansas City Royals drafted George at age 20. He mentioned it is a lot of hard work and dedication during his process of getting to the major leagues and hopes the players get the same experience.
Even though George went straight to minors after high school, he stressed that education is important.
“.. I think more importantly for me being here, it is to stress the importance of education,” George said. “They are here to play baseball but they are also here to get an education.”
George has visited multiple schools and talked to the athletes about his 21 seasons of experience in the game. He has noticed changes in the sport over his two decades playing the game.
“I think the game has gotten longer, a lot more strikeouts, a lot less balls in play,” George said. “They are trying to do things to appease the fans because I think the fan base is dropping a little bit because the games are too boring. Too many strikeouts and not enough balls in action.”
Attendees who paid for a VIP ticket got an exclusive meet and greet with Brett. Andy Gleiser and son Drew Gleiser were two community members who bought this experience.The father and son were excited to hear stories from “the greatest Royal”.
The Gleiser family recently moved to Reno, and Andy’s family used to watch Brett play.
“A friend of ours told us that Brett was speaking and I thought ‘I’ve got to meet him, never have’,” Andy said. “We’re big Royals fans, and I’ve passed it along to [Drew].”
Drew currently plays baseball in Sparks as the second baseman on Baseball Palace. Not only did his dad influence his love for the Royals, but so did the connection he has with his coach, Pat Fleury.
“He played in the Royals organization with Carlos Beltran, Johnny Damon and Mike Sweeney. Never made it to the majors, but he was in Triple A at least,” Drew said.
Although Drew is homeschooled, Andy is looking to have him tryout for a high school baseball team in the near future.
Brett retired after 21 seasons with the Royals as one of only four players with 3,000 hits, 300 home runs and a .300 batting average.
George was given Nevada baseball gear from the university including shirts, jerseys and a suitcase as a thank you for attending the dinner.
Kelsey Middleton can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @kelsmiddleunr