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  • An Unexpected Twist

    I awake with sore hands and forearms, worry and stress cause me to clench my fists while I sleep-an outward manifestation of an inward feeling. My body tenses up in a reaction to the stresses of life. The only way I am able to defend against my stress reaction is through letting go, through surrendering. The truth is-open hands are always better than clenched fists.


    I cut through the Florida morning fog on the way to the complex and see the sun rising over empty fields. I walk into the clubhouse to over 100 peers. Over 100 teammates. Over 100 opportunities. This small space packed full of dreamers used to be chaos to all my senses, but now it appears different. I have changed its meaning.

    I have dreamed of playing big games on big stages since I was a kid, but the more I play, the more I realize that the journey has been the dream all along. Recently I have wondered if the journey is about more than me. I would love to make a career out of baseball in the big leagues, it is something I strive for, but what if it's about something more? What if I could be a small piece of someone else's dream? What if a little encouragement or advice could help them make a career out of playing in the big leagues? How cool would that be?

    I return home to see my parents have arrived-they are on vacation from Minnesota. They greet with smiles and hugs. Their presence reminds me of the wisdom they have shown throughout my life.

    My mom has struggled to see me fail over and over, but she let it happen because she knew I needed to learn. She has an incredible heart and she constantly reminds me that I ought to strive to have a heart like that for others.

    My dad still texts me before games and reminds me to play free. He knows that in the letting go, I am able to be my best. When I free myself of stress, worries and angst, I play differently.

    What if everyone let go and worked, learned or played freely? What if we set aside our own stresses and concerned ourselves with the stresses of others? What would that look like?

    I lay my head down for the night and mark a successful day because my journey has taken an unexpected, profound twist that has left it with far more meaning than before.

    Follow me on Twitter this year! @apettersen1
    Comments 14 Comments
    1. Gene Larkin Fan Club's Avatar
      Gene Larkin Fan Club -
      Wow. A truly impressive young man.
    1. tharasix's Avatar
      tharasix -
      I'm a chronic lurker here, but I had to log in and say that this was exceptional. It's easy to see baseball players as stat-producing machines. The recent "Get to Know" articles give us a little insight into some prospects history and a bit of their personality, but this is an insight into your humanity. On top of that, this was also just very well written prose. Thank you for stepping out of the usual mold of the baseball article and opening up to us.
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      Great column. Thank you so much for sharing with us.

      And as always, all the best on your journey.
    1. Dman's Avatar
      Dman -
      Wow. That is some impressive wisdom and understanding. Should help him keep a healthy perspective throughout his life. I wish him and the hundred other dreamers well.
    1. cmonhank's Avatar
      cmonhank -
      I am an avid baseball and Twins fan - read every local thing I can. Often I skip through most of it b/c it's much the same thoughts/stats/insights, etc. I long for someone to say something that is not a cliche or something that has not been said a hundred thousand times. This was that. Young man, this knowledge of letting go will serve you more than just about anything you will ever learn. Clearly your parents got this, whether they said it to you directly or not, but to have this realization at such an early age is a blessing. Whether you make it to The Show or not, you have gained a wisdom that eludes many. I will follow you on Twitter and look for more of the same, and watch for you to embrace the joy of the journey regardless of outcome! Thank you and Go Twins!!
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      A veteran at 25.
    1. Oldgoat_MN's Avatar
      Oldgoat_MN -
      Thanks for sharing, AJ. Well said.

      And as always, best of luck!
    1. flatlanddad's Avatar
      flatlanddad -
      As others have said, thanks for the insight into your thoughts as a ballplayer, in this article and in others. Your article immediately reminded me of Paul Shirley, a fellow Iowa State grad who spent a few years after college trying to make it in the NBA while writing articles for ESPN and other sites. Thanks for such a refreshing perspective on life! Good luck in your pursuit of success as a ballplayer. From the article, it is clear you will have no trouble becoming successful in life regardless of whether you are on or off the ball diamond.
    1. AJPettersen's Avatar
      AJPettersen -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmonhank View Post
      I am an avid baseball and Twins fan - read every local thing I can. Often I skip through most of it b/c it's much the same thoughts/stats/insights, etc. I long for someone to say something that is not a cliche or something that has not been said a hundred thousand times. This was that. Young man, this knowledge of letting go will serve you more than just about anything you will ever learn. Clearly your parents got this, whether they said it to you directly or not, but to have this realization at such an early age is a blessing. Whether you make it to The Show or not, you have gained a wisdom that eludes many. I will follow you on Twitter and look for more of the same, and watch for you to embrace the joy of the journey regardless of outcome! Thank you and Go Twins!!
      What a well thought out response. I have been making a point to say something different lately. Automated notes receive automated responses and I prefer genuine ones, which is why I really appreciate the kind words. Thank you for taking the time to read my words and thank you for the support!
    1. AJPettersen's Avatar
      AJPettersen -
      Quote Originally Posted by flatlanddad View Post
      As others have said, thanks for the insight into your thoughts as a ballplayer, in this article and in others. Your article immediately reminded me of Paul Shirley, a fellow Iowa State grad who spent a few years after college trying to make it in the NBA while writing articles for ESPN and other sites. Thanks for such a refreshing perspective on life! Good luck in your pursuit of success as a ballplayer. From the article, it is clear you will have no trouble becoming successful in life regardless of whether you are on or off the ball diamond.
      Maybe you could pitch the idea to ESPN? Haha. Thanks for reading and for the support!
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Hey AJ, if you get on ESPN, be sure to plug Twins Daily!!! We'll get you a shirt!!
    1. jimv2's Avatar
      jimv2 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      Hey AJ, if you get on ESPN, be sure to plug Twins Daily!!! We'll get you a shirt!!
      Geez, get the guy a shirt already. He's done enough to deserve it!
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      AJ, had the pleasure to meet your folks the other day when you were playing 3B at Field Two and hit against Phil Hughes and I think that you have an awesome support system and it is so obvious of how proud they are of you.
      Over at Field Three I had a change to talk with the mom of one of the Orioles' top prospects (played in the Rookie leagues last season and was invited to the MLB camp in ST and was cut early) and she said that when she talks to him he reminds him to be humble, keep his chin up and go out and do his best every day.

      I think that it is plenty of good advise for everyone.

      Thanks for posting this.
    1. roger's Avatar
      roger -
      Sleep well A.J. And say hi to Paul and your Mom if they are still there.
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