Major League Baseball was not in the plan for Mets 3B and five-time All-Star David Wright. From an early age, he had his heart set on playing baseball in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), then moving on to a career in engineering. But Wright’s hard work on the field catapulted him higher than he imagined.
Wright’s parents instilled in him the desire to work hard. “My parents taught me work ethic,” he says. “You might not be the best player on the field, but you want to go out there and outwork everyone else.” Thus, Wright has always been willing to put in long hours to reach his goals. “I always knew that I had to outwork my competition, because I’m not a guy that has the best tools or the best skills,” he claims.
Wright’s work ethic paid dividends during his years at Hickory High School in Chesapeake, Va. Besides participating in team batting practice and visiting the local batting cages, Wright arranged his school schedule to allow for an extra hour a day for batting practice with a teammate. It didn’t matter if he already had practice or a game later that day—his dream of playing ACC ball was motivating him to do more.
At the end of an impressive high school career, Wright found himself with numerous opportunities—including the fulfillment of his dream. He signed a letter of intent to play ball in the ACC (at Georgia Tech), but he had also attracted the attention of major league scouts. Wright and his family decided that if he were selected in the first or second round of the MLB Draft, he would pass up the chance to earn a college degree and try to make it in the big leagues.
And so it came to pass. Wright landed with the New York Mets as the 38th overall pick in the 2001 First-Year Player Draft. The guy who dreamed of playing in the ACC was headed directly to the Show.
It’s more common in baseball than in any other sport to leap from high school to the pros. But Wright ‘s story is exceptional because of his reliance on effort more than natural talent. And it can serve to encourage younger athletes. Working hard to reach an attainable goal—like playing ACC ball—can lead to even better opportunities.