It's typical of Jamey Carroll that he can't remember a thing about his first T-ball game, but he vividly remembers practicing in the front yard with his two brothers before that game, hitting off the tee, in full uniform, getting ready.
Carroll has always focused on being ready, but his mother's sudden passing during the offseason before he came to Colorado hammered home the lesson to "live in the moment."
Carroll's work ethic comes from his parents, whom he describes as "blue collar people that worked hard and set the example for us as kids that to be successful in life, you have to get after whatever it is that you want to do."
He especially remembers what his mother would tell scouts who were concerned about Carroll's 5-foot-9 stature.
"She said, 'You know, he's not that tall, but he's an infielder, and I think it helps him, because it makes him that much closer to a ground ball,'" Carroll recalled. "I was like, 'Oh, Mom, perfectly said!'"
It was Carroll's dedication to preparation and maximum effort that won him over to scouts and later to managers, teammates and fans who claim him as a favorite. As Carroll explains, he was drafted on the basis of his effort running out a pair of grounders to shortstop and the pitcher.
"You can have a bad day of hitting, or a bad day of fielding, but you can never have a bad day of trying as hard as you possibly can," Carroll said.
Coming up through the Minors, Carroll supplemented his salary by substitute teaching K-12 classes, and whether in his teaching days, working with his charitable foundation, or simply talking to kids as a big league hero, Carroll shares his experience of flipping the chorus of "can'ts" he heard on the way up into something positive.
"I was told growing up in the game, 'You can't do these things,' and now I've turned those can'ts around," Carroll tells kids. "Now people say, 'I can't believe you're playing there,' and, 'I can't believe you're living your dream.'"
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.