Karl Shilhanek was born into an era of hopelessness for Seattle Mariner’s fans. In 1992, there wasn’t much of a light at the end of the tunnel for the fan base until that magical late season run in ‘95. By then Karl was swinging the bat with authority and nearly had the M’s 40-man roster memorized front to back. A dream was formulating in this young man’s mind. With hard work, a dedicated group of peers, and a little luck, he could be the one to bring glory back to his hometown. Make no mistake, Karl had his sights set on a world series ring. If things worked out right he’d be in the teal and silver when that glorious day came. Not everything fell into place though, as is the case in this life. Fortunately for Karl there was an oasis of sorts in the rainy town of Bellingham, a place to go where the only limit to his dreams was his work ethic. Karl spent a great deal of time at Inside Pitch, learning the mechanics and the philosophy, the formula and the art of the game. Surrounded by talented coaches and hardworking peers, Karl became aware that while he could fall back on athleticism and a strong arm, true greatness only comes to those who dedicate themselves to it fully. He wanted greatness, he yearned for glory, but he did not need it. And to him it did not come.

Karl Shilhanek never made a big impact in high school baseball. He received no letters, no offers, and not a dollar of scholarship money for all his childhood dreaming. He chased sunshine and a new start down to Flagstaff, Arizona, and played for Northern Arizona University’s Club Baseball team for two years before focusing on life and leaving baseball on the fringes. If you read this as a cautionary tale, you would be forgetting the gifts that the game gave to Karl when he left it. Baseball taught Karl that succeeding and failing doesn’t happen in one at bat. It showed Karl that if life gives you an outside fastball, don’t try to pull it, just drive it to opposite field. Most importantly baseball told Karl to focus on the swing you are about to take and let everything else come in due time.

Karl is somewhere in the third inning of life, living in Bellingham, and working as a corporate chef during the day. He coached with the Cascade Crush in 2015 and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. He looks forward to what life throws at him in 2017. Go Crush.