Life can be filled with adversity and hard times. It’s not about what happens, but how you handle those things determines what you are made of. In our interview, Beck Wheeler tells us about his boating accident, his preparation and more.
CC: Growing up, what started your path to becoming a baseball player? Who were your biggest influences?
As a young child, my dad and I would play catch in our front yard for hours. He would take me to Padres games and use them to teach me more about the game. Tony Gwynn was one of my favorite players. He had a pure swing and just made hitting look easy. My parents would always comment on how his attitude was even-keeled and you could never tell if he was 0-4 or 4-4.
CC: When you look back at the boating accident that nearly left you unable to walk, what stands out the most as the years go by?
The boating accident was a scary incident. I had just graduated high school and was on my way to play shortstop with a college scholarship. The first doctor in the emergency room told me I might not be able to walk again. I had a 7-hour surgery and came out with 84 staples and 3 stitches. From then on I knew I was in for some challenges. I was able to fully recover but, still wasn’t able to run as fast as I once had. Throughout college, I was able to play infield, but always knew I had a good arm.
CC: You’ve been able to fight through long odds on your recovery and on the baseball diamond. What has motivated you to keep moving forward?
The motivation came from that very first day in the hospital when the doctor told me I might not walk again. From then on I just wanted to prove everyone wrong, including myself. It started with learning how to walk again, then jog, and sprint. As I got into college I wanted to prove to my coaches I could play baseball at the Division I level and play it well. After transferring to University of California Santa Barbara my junior year I had to prove a new set of coaches that I was capable of playing the infield. As my senior year approached, our pitching coach asked if I wanted to pitch during summer ball and try it out the next year. This provided another challenge for me learning a new position and how to pitch.
CC: What has it been like to be a professional baseball player in the Minor Leagues?
It has really been a great time. I’ve met so many new friends from all over the world that I would never have gotten to meet if it weren’t for baseball. I’ve had roommates from Australia, Japan, and all over the U.S. There are some horror stories of terrible food and long, long bus rides, but it’s all part of the game. I have had the opportunity to play in front of tens of thousands of fans and as little as ten fans. I’ve played in 100+ degree weather and 30-degree weather. Overall I have had a great experience throughout the years.
CC: As the baseball offseason is now in full swing, what are you working on in preparation for the 2016 season?
This offseason I am just back in the gym looking to get stronger and leaner for next season. Pitchers don’t have the ability to throw every single day during the offseason so I will take a little time off from throwing. Just use that time to rest my arm and workout without the worries of being too sore to pitch or throw.
CC: There are tools of the trade and routines that are essential in any profession. What are some of yours?
I like to start my day with a good breakfast every day and especially during the season. It can be tough when you’re on the road and don’t have a car, but I’ve been able to find some good breakfast spots in most of the cities we’ve traveled too. I don’t have any superstitions, but I like to keep things very simple. I think keeping it simple helps me stay in the moment and not letting any situation get too big for me.
CC: What are your goals for the 2016 season?
I would just like to have a healthy and successful 2016 season. I try not to look too far ahead to where I’ll be playing because that could change in a second. Obviously I would like to play in the Major Leagues this season, but that is not up to me. I will just prepare every day and be ready for my name to be called. Whether I have my best game or worst game, I will always imitate Tony Gwynn and keep an even head.
Beck Wheeler is a fighter with the heart of a champion. With his determination and work ethic, you never know when he’ll get a shot in the big leagues. One thing is for certain if that happens, he earned it the old-fashioned way.
You can follow Beck Wheeler on Twitter @beck_wheelerr