- Bruce Levine, Chicago baseball beat reporter
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Perseverance is word often used to point out the depth of what the human spirit can drive a person to become. In the case of both Chicago Cubs first baseman Bryan LaHair and Boston Red Sox outfielder Scott Podsednik, a love of baseball and a belief in their dream of playing at the highest level drove them to overcome almost a decade of beating the bushes in the minor leagues.
While LaHair is making a case for himself as a National League All-Star after nine seasons in the minors, Podsednik has once again reinvented himself as the Red sox leadoff man after sitting out the 2011 season with a series of foot injuries. The former Chicago White Sox World Series hero has watched LaHair’s story unfold with both interest and admiration for what LaHair accomplished the first 65 games of the season.
“It takes a lot of discipline and perseverance to do what he has done,” the 36-year-old outfielder said. “I know what he has gone and through and you first and foremost have to believe in yourself and keep trying to find those things that will make you successful.”
Podsednik spent eight seasons in the minors before getting his first chance in the majors as a starter for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2003. He won the National League Rookie of the Year award that season.
“I think I developed later because it took me awhile to learn how to use my speed as a premium tool,” he said. “Bryan, I am sure, is no different. His strength is the power game and in our case it appears some players develop later than others.”
LaHair, in his first full season as a starter, considered telling his agent to accept an offer from Japan in the offseason but decided to give making the big leagues one more try.
“I almost did the same thing,” Podsednik said. “In my case I was all in on baseball. I didn’t have a college education. My schooling was all about this game so I was going to exhaust every avenue to make it.”
Podsednik wants to play for awhile longer, especially since he was a late bloomer in the majors. But however long his career continues, he’ll always be remembered as the White Sox World Series hero after hitting a walk-off home run to win Game 3 in 2005.
“It is still seven years later tough to put into words what that moment was like,” he said. “I met my wife, Lisa, in Chicago. We got engaged that year, we won the World Series. I will always have a special connection with this city for what happened that year.”
People in general love an underdog and in the case of LaHair and Podsednik, hard work and a belief in oneself continue to pay off.