Story of a Rookie:
Sunlight radiated off of the chain link fence, piercing brightly into my eyes. The murmur of voices punctuated by the incomparably satisfying sound of bats connecting with well-aimed pitches brought a smile to my face. The well-manicured baseball diamond was a reassuring sight in the corners of my eye as I climbed up the steps. I picked a good spot and settled onto the ridged metal of the bleachers to open up my camera bag.
I was debating between my 2x zoom filter vs the long lens when I heard them call his name.
I smiled. James had worked so hard for this. He'd been playing ball since middle school. My mind wandered briefly to how many hours he must've spent handling a bat, ball and glove. We'd met in Junior High and started dating in high school, then James went to Stanford on a baseball scholarship while I studied journalism at USC. Finally, 4 years and 11 months later, I had my first reporting job and he was trying out for AAA. Playing ball for 16 years, practicing for an hour or two most school days...besides the regularly scheduled team practices & games...wow. He had probably practiced 14 - 20 hours per week for the past 16 years. That was between 11,648 - 16,640 hours of his life spent on baseball. No wonder he was so good!
I finally opted for the long lens and was just pulling the cap off when I noticed another young guy, somewhere around James' age, waiting near the batter's box. He was nice-looking and seemed to have a pleasant demeanor. Although he held a bat, he didn't strike me as an athlete. I wasn't sure why.
It became evident when he stepped into the batter's box. Swing and a miss. It was sloppy.
Footsteps crunched on the gravel near the bleachers. Two young male voices wafted up to me, punctuated periodically by the "click, click" of my camera shutter.
"Dude looks like he hasn't played ball in years."
The second voice snorted. "He hasn't! Somewhere along the way, probably third grade, someone once told him he was a 'natural' -- ha! He might've been, if he'd stuck with it. But he was always above practicing or training, since he had 'natural ability'. So now he's come out here to humiliate himself."
I paused the camera midway up to my eye. What a shocking concept. Some guys wanted to play ball so badly, they trained their own lack of ability into something remarkable. This athlete took his "natural ability" as an excuse not to work. How far he might have gone if he'd put in the effort.
I sighted the frame in, far down the field. A hard throw, and the beautifully stitched sphere was hurling through the air, quickly approaching the point where it would enter my camera frame. James jumped with outstretched arm, snagging the ball neatly into his glove.
Click. Perfect shot.
- - - - -
Hollywood Rookies exists because of the idea that highly dedicated amateurs can produce quality work with the capability to change the future. At some point, every big-name celebrity was once a nobody. Every celebrated director once worked on his or her first film. Every producer once risked the investment in their first production. No matter who they are now, they had to start somewhere. -JSD