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What It Means to Be the 1
June 15, 2009
A record-setting contract, maybe even a leap to the bigs this summer, await draft phenom Stephen Strasburg, but as plenty of past can't-miss kids will attest, you can miss
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June 15, 2009

What It Means To Be The 1

A record-setting contract, maybe even a leap to the bigs this summer, await draft phenom Stephen Strasburg, but as plenty of past can't-miss kids will attest, you can miss

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CLYDE: My shoulder trouble was the result of my trying too hard. I went straight to the big leagues out of high school, and I didn't know at the time I was good enough. I thought my fastball had to be that much faster and my curveball had to be that much better. The minor leagues allow you to build that confidence, to ease into it. I had the ability to pitch in the big leagues. I know that now. But I didn't know it then. That's why I'd like to see Strasburg start in the minors.

KRAUSSE: I didn't throw at all that first winter, and by spring training the next year, I felt really good. On the second day of spring, I was probably throwing 95. Someone should have been standing there saying, "Settle down, it's only the second day." But there was no supervision. It was the beginning of 15 years of pain. I would pitch, take time off, get a shot of cortisone, pitch again, and then the pain would come back. Nobody found anything wrong until I went to the Mayo Clinic later that year and they said I had a detached tendon. They cut right through the muscle. You should see the scar I have on my elbow today. It looks like my wife took me out in the barn and chopped me open.

PETTIT: I pulled a muscle in my elbow that first year in New Orleans, but the coaches told me it wasn't serious. I learned how to throw differently, to compensate for the elbow, and hurt my shoulder. From then on, I had to throw like a catcher, from my ear. I never had the same leverage. I finished my career as a hitter.

ANDERSON: The night I blew out my shoulder, the Red Wings had a promotion before the game at Comerica Park where they asked me and Jeff Weaver to throw two or three octopuses. We threw them underhand about 10 feet. That's not why I hurt my arm. But a lot of people took it and ran with it.

BANNISTER: We had a concrete wall in the backyard growing up that was never finished, so it was only about three-feet high. I would stand 40 feet behind the wall and fire fastballs at it, and if I missed, the ball would go into a neighbor's yard. The neighbor had some big dogs, so I had to learn to throw with downward angle. I think that's why I never had arm problems.

BELCHER: I work for the Indians now, and I'm asked all the time to talk to kids who were draft picks and are struggling. I tell them, "Teams draft arms, legs, speed and power. They don't know the full story." I was one of 10 pitchers drafted ahead of Roger Clemens in 1983. And five of those 10 didn't even pitch in the big leagues.

CLYDE: I hear periodically when a young kid comes along, a team will say, "We're not going to let happen to him what happened to David Clyde." That's very gratifying for me. At least they know they screwed up.

PRIOR: Injuries make you look at the big picture, at what it means to be in the major leagues. It's not like I was one of those guys who was drafted high and never made it or barely made it. I made it, performed at a high level and because of injuries wasn't able to maintain that level.

PETTIT: The producer came and checked on me every now and again, but we never did make a movie. I didn't develop quite the way he thought I would.

CLYDE: My last game was in the instructional league with the Astros. I've thrown my eighth warmup pitch, and as I give that O.K. sign to send it down to second base, I asked myself, What are you doing here? Never in my life had I asked what I was doing on a baseball field. At that point, I knew it was time to walk away. I didn't realize I was 27 days from my pension, but at that point it didn't matter. Obviously, I'd love to have it now.

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