Bullington following a dream shared by many young players

I envy Bryan Bullington.

Ever since my little league hay days in Northwest Indiana, my dream was to play professional baseball. Any baseball fanatic knows the feeling I am talking about.

I remember telling my father that the Atlanta Braves would draft me right out of high school and that he wouldn't have to worry about money after that. I told him about the huge house that I would buy him, all the corvettes and other vintage cars he would have and everything he could ever want.

My baseball career abruptly ended at the age of 15. I had played my last season of little league and really had no time to tryout for the high school team. At my high school it seemed like all sports were really a popularity contest anyway, so I never really thought twice about it.

But I still loved the game.

If I ever would have continued playing and ever got drafted out of high school, there probably would be no way I'd be going to school here or writing this column. That is where my respect for Bullington comes in.

Bullington was a great pitcher in high school. He led his team to the Class 3A state baseball title his senior year. He was 15-0 with a 1.49 ERA. That is God-like in baseball. He was also the 1998-99 Mr. Baseball of Indiana. After his senior season, he was drafted.

The Kansas City Royals selected the young Bullington in the 37th round of the draft in 1999. Now, most people would flip out and be on their first flight to where ever the Royals were sending them, including myself. I would ask how high I should jump before they ever even asked me to jump.

Bullington didn't though.

He decided to not pursue a baseball career at that time, and came to Ball State to get an education and become a better player. That just goes to show how smart he really is.

Today in sports you see so many careers fail leaving all of these kids that came straight out of high school with nothing to fall back on. They end up working in fast food thinking about what their career could've been if they went to college instead.

Baseball is a different story than other sports when it comes to education.

Unlike basketball or football, baseball has minor leagues. And over 90 percent of all draft picks begin their career in the minors. Which, in fact, enables somebody to finish a degree easier, and Bullington plans to do that.

He said that he was looking forward to coming back next fall and finishing his degree in business administration. Obviously education is very important to Bullington and it shows through his 3.27 grade point average.

That is respectable in sports today where many players get through school with the bare minimum GPAs and are banking their whole lives on playing sports professionally.

Hopefully, Bullington's position in the draft will really show what kind of character and player he is.

Come tomorrow I will be on the phone at 1 p.m. It will be a conference call into New York and I'll be listening for Bullington to be picked No. 1.

I believe he deserves it more than anybody and that he has really proven it to everybody. But whether he is picked No. 1 or No. 5, Bullington will be happy where ever he goes to pursue his new career.

He will go on to live out a dream and become some 9 year old's favorite major league baseball player. A few years from now kids will be putting Bullington's baseball card in their pile of favorites along side Greg Maddux and Randy Johnson.


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