Gary Southshore RailCats Alex Crosby Riding Life Lessons to Success
At 6-1, 220-pounds, there is a lot to like about Alex Crosby as a baseball player. He is a big man who is quick on his feet, and dedicated to excellence on the field. However, that is just a small piece of what makes the Gary Southshore RailCats first baseman such an ideal member of this team. It is his positive outlook on life and commitment to learn that has enabled the 22-year-old to keep a dream alive. This has enabled Crosby to ride the rails of the sport he loves all the way to Gary, IN.
A Family Tradition
From an early age, Alex Crosby found the sport of baseball something that he could be quite passionate about. Many members of his family played the game and this helped to influence his own desire to want to be a part of the family tradition.
“My whole family played. Growing up I watched my cousins; my dad was really into it. I think it was more along the lines of watching my cousins, because they were a really big influence on me, especially at a young age.”
Alex loved baseball, but he was also excelling in football. While he loved his time on the gridiron, Alex decided that he really wanted to spend more time in the sport he loved for as long as he could remember.
“I quit my senior year in high school because I wanted to focus and stay playing baseball and get better at that, so that made my decision for me pretty easy.”
While loving his time on the field, Alex never really saw the sport as a career path. He was just enjoying the comradery of the game, and simply wanted to play for as long as he could. He didn’t know how long his time of the diamond would be, but decided that he was simply going to enjoy it for as long as possible.
“I just love playing the game, and I kind of wanted to see how far it would take me. It got me here right now, so I am pretty blessed and happy to be here.”
The Ride Continues
Coming out of Will C. Wood High School (Vacaville, CA), Alex Crosby originally went to Solano Community College (Fairfield, CA) to continue his education. In his junior season he transferred to Sonoma State University (Rohnert Park, CA), where he would become a key member of the Sea Wolves baseball team.
His first year at Sonoma was one of adjustment. He had a solid season there, hitting .268 with 2-homers and 24-RBI in 42-games, but he also knew that there was a lot more he could do with the bat.
“I knew right when I got there that if I wanted to stay in the lineup I was going to have to hit. I can play first well, but that is the key for any player. If you can’t hit you aren’t going to be playing.”
While .268 is in no way a bad season, Alex pushed himself to take his game to a new level. He knew that those numbers were not anywhere near what he could do, so he spent some time learning from those around him and incorporating their ideas into his game. The results were instantaneous.
In 2015, Crosby flat out starred for Sonoma. In 49-games, he hit .365 with 4-homers and 31-RBI. He led the team in virtually every offensive category, including average, homers, RBI, runs scored (29) and extra-base hits (18), plus he was second in doubles (13) and on-base percentage (.407). He also showed an outstanding glove at first base, making just 3-errors and posting an outstanding .991 fielding percentage.
A Fitting Destination to Continue the Ride
It was an impressive season to say the least but, surprisingly, it drew no attention from Major League organizations. Despite having an outstanding season and proving that he could make adjustments quickly to improve his game, Alex Crosby went undrafted in 2015.
Not knowing exactly where his baseball career should be headed, Alex sought the advice of one of his most trusted confidantes – his cousin Jon Jones. Jones was starring for the RailCats at the time and encouraged his younger cousin to take a look at Gary. For 10-games of the 2015 American Association season, Alex came to play for the Gary Southshore RailCats where he hit .200 with 1-RBI.
It was a fairly inauspicious start for the 22-year-old but, as he had done at Sonoma State, Alex picked the brain of veterans, including his cousin, seeking to find out how he could improve his game for the 2016 season. The results have stood for themselves. In 71-games this season, Crosby has hit .264 with a homer and 29-RBI. He has also given Manager Greg Tagert some flexibility in using Alex, playing first, third, and the outfield. He has played well wherever he has been asked to take the field, making just 2-errors.
Learning from the Rides of Others
The 2016 season has been a successful one for Alex Crosby. He is showing that he truly is a player who adjusts from one season to the next, and it is clear that next season will probably be an even better one for the RailCats first baseman. The reason for such supposition is quite easy.
One of the things that Alex does so well is to learn from those around him. In this, he is quite different from many of the 22-year-olds that people will meet. Most men, when they reach this age, think that they have all the answers (don’t deny it; we all know it’s true), but Crosby separates himself by understanding that he has a great deal to learn if he is going to excel in the game that he truly loves.
“I am a young guy, and I am so fortunate to be around so many guys that have had great success at many different levels. If I want to have success I want to know what they know. I want to learn what they have learned.”
It is those veterans that Alex cherishes spending so much time with. They have not only taught him how to improve his game, but also given him great insights on how to be mentally stronger at baseball as well.
“I really work at staying calm. That is the way you have to be if you are going to play baseball the right way. I pick the brains of the older guys to learn from their experiences, and see how they have adjusted over time. I talk to as many guys as I can, learn from them, and really see what is going on so I can be successful.”
His embracing of the lessons has really helped him to stay grounded. Baseball is a game of failure where a person who does well thirty percent of the time is considered a success. Only weather people and corrections officials are patted on the back for that kind of success rate. The RailCat sees that you have to learn more from the failures than you do from the successes, because you will have many more of the former than the latter.
“You take what you get on the field and you learn from it, but you don’t let it tear you down. This is where I think a lot of players struggle because they get down on themselves. This game is a process, and I make sure I go over the things I am doing well and where I am struggling. It’s easy to get down on yourself, but all that does is make things harder. I want to take those struggles and learn from them so they don’t happen again.”
It is the reflection on each game’s moments that have been keys for Alex. He wants to improve his game each time he takes the field and, after every contest, he spends some time talking to his No. 1 instructor – his dad.
“We talk every night after my games. He watches all of them but he loves it. He kind of gives me his feedback on everything and I’m kind of telling him about how I was feeling in the situations. Even if I don’t do so good he kinda tells me to keep my head up and to just keep working hard. So that is what I’m going to do.”
He also consults the one person in his family who truly understands what it is like to be a Gary Southshore RailCat. Jon Jones is excelling in the Atlantic League this season, but he still makes time to help his younger cousin grow as a player.
“We talk from time to time. He has been around for a while and I really like to listen to what he has to say; to hear his experiences. I can pick and learn from them.”
Alex has learned the lessons from others on not allowing himself to get too high during hot streaks or too low during slumps. However, he has also included that attitude in each game. The first baseman understands that the tide of a game can turn very quickly, so you have to remain grounded no matter what.
“You don’t want to be too excited over anything because you never know what could happen. Like let’s say you hit a homerun in the seventh inning, the game is still not over. You still have to be prepared to go out there and get nine more outs. Just staying focused on every single pitch, every single out, every single strike, ball, whatever comes your way. That is the only way you are going to have success in this game.”
Where the Ride Leads to Next
Alex Crosby has been playing professional baseball for a little over a year now. He has shown that he can perform at this level and that has often come from embracing the lessons that others have taught him along the way. It has also come from understanding that this ride can end at any moment.
“Any given day I can be gone. I’ve learned a lot from last year. I have become a lot more mentally tough in comparison to last year, but I also understand that if I don’t keep working then I won’t be playing much longer.”
The life lessons have helped to improve his game, but so has the fact that Alex is a tireless worker who trains hard to perfect his craft. To be quite frank, he is a great model for what a Gary Southshore RailCat looks like and this has made him a fan favorite in the city.
It takes a lot of work and even more learning to move to the next level. Those are things that Alex Crosby has shown that he not only can commit himself to, but will excel in as well. What this means is that no one should believe that this ride will be coming to an end any time soon.
Featured Image Courtesy of the Chicago Tribune
By Robert Pannier
Member of the IBWAA