In the Twitter world, a single tweet often provides bits and pieces. Telling “the whole story” typically requires more than the maximum 140 characters.
“Every drill mattered!”
That wasn’t the entirety of Brian Cupples’ April 25 tweet regarding Adam McGinnis, who later in the day would play for Western Illinois against Illinois State at Duffy Bass Field. Yet, it said everything about who McGinnis is and why now, two months later, he is playing professional baseball.
Cupples coached McGinnis in basketball at Normal West High School. In McGinnis’ three years as a varsity starter, Cupples never saw him go half-speed or three-quarter speed. There was only full speed.
That was all Rich and Robin McGinnis asked of their son.
“My parents never forced athletics on me,” McGinnis said. “They just told me that whatever I do in life to work my hardest and good things will happen for me. No matter where it’s been — on the field or on the court or in the classroom — that’s been my mindset.”
So yes, every drill mattered.
This week the drills are in Glendale, Ariz., where McGinnis, a catcher, is among newly signed players at the Chicago White Sox spring training facility. Beginning Saturday, there will be minor league games against rookie teams from organizations with nearby training facilities.
It was 110 degrees Monday. The forecast for Tuesday was for a high near 120. McGinnis wasn’t complaining.
Passed over during last week’s three-day Major League Baseball Amateur Draft, McGinnis’ phone rang Thursday. White Sox scout J.J. Lally was offering a free agent opportunity.
McGinnis was on a plane to Arizona the next day.
“After Wednesday (the draft’s final day) I was a little upset that I didn’t hear my name,” McGinnis said. “But as soon as I got the call from J.J., it turned my mood around immediately. Just the chance to continue to play baseball was all I wanted.
“My dream has been to play professional baseball. I’m trying to take it as far as I can. That’s my next goal on the table. This is only the beginning hopefully.”
McGinnis had one Division I offer at Normal West. He seized it and rewarded Western Illinois coach Ryan Brownlee with a career in which he finished in the top 10 in school history in hits, doubles, RBIs and games played.
This spring, McGinnis led the Summit League with a .355 batting average, threw out 13 of 48 would-be base stealers and was a first-team all-conference pick.
He also made the academic all-conference team and was named WIU’s Senior Male Student-Athlete of the Year. The latter honor required him to give a speech before the entire athletic department.
“I thought I’d be more nervous,” he said. “I was more nervous thinking about it. When I got in front of everybody, I felt really comfortable up there.”
Perhaps it was because his story can be summed up in two words: Hard work.
OK, maybe three:
“Every drill mattered!”
“I’m not the most talented guy out there. I know that,” McGinnis said. “But I’m willing to accept it because I’m willing to work to get to that level.”
Lally must have sensed that. He invited the 5-foot-11, 225-pound McGinnis to a pre-draft workout at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago shortly before the draft. McGinnis participated in similar workouts for the Mets, Padres and Pirates.
He had caught some eyes with his play last summer for the Waterloo Bucks of the Northwoods League. McGinnis was named the Bucks’ Player of the Year and a Summer Collegiate All-American after hitting .296 with 19 doubles, 12 home runs and 62 RBIs. He also won the Finest in the Field Award.
None of it got him drafted, but he was on the radar. Now, he’s on a baseball payroll.
“I’m really thankful for the opportunity and thankful for all of the coaches and teammates who have been part of the journey,” McGinnis said. “Without them, I know I would not be the player I am.”
Mom and Dad were right. If you work your hardest, good things happen.
And every drill matters.