Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

July 10, 2014

Springer delivers mental approach to hitting

BLUEFIELD — George Costanza of Seinfeld fame referred to himself in one memorable episode as two persons, 'Relationship George' and Independent George'.

In Steve Springer's way of thinking, everyone has two personalities, much like Costanza, one filled with confidence and the other far from it.

"This is why first rounders can't get out of A-ball and guys drafted in the 40th round play 10 years in the big leagues," said Springer, a mental hitting coach with the Toronto Blue Jays. "It is because of the mind and competing and getting great at showing up with confidence to help your team win."

Springer isn't short on confidence. He can't be. His job is to teach baseball players to stay confident and turn that into success on the field.

"I am a belief coach, I am a compete coach," said Springer, who was in Bluefield last week to work with members of the local Blue Jays. "We are playing a hard game, man, but we make it harder than it is because if you like your abilities and your abilities aren't coming out, it's not your abilities' problem, it's your mind."

Springer works closely with numerous major leaguers, not just Blue Jays, including Mark Trumbo, an outfielder and one of the game's rising sluggers with the Arizona Diamondbacks, who is just like the rest of us, confident at times and just as often not as sure about himself.

"Every player has two players in him at any level," Springer said. "You have confident Mark Trumbo, who is a star, and non-confident Mark Trumbo sucks. How do we get the confident Mark Trumbo to show up, That is what I teach and you can add any name in there...

"We all have two players, we think we have a 25-man roster and we really have a 50-man because every man has two players. How do you get 25 confident guys showing up, my whole thing is changing what you think success is."

• • •

The 53-year-old Springer, who has spent 32 years in professional baseball, playing for 14 of those and getting two hits apiece in both the American and National leagues, has become a renown instructor with his own unique perspective on how to be a success on the diamond.

"I have been doing this for 15 years and my wife is just astonished that I have the same energy talking to a dad of a 12-year-old that I do (Arizona All-Star first baseman) Paul Goldschmidt ," Springer said. "It is every time because they have never heard it, they don't know.

"It is my passion, I love it, I feel like I should be an ambassador for youth baseball."

Through his website, Quality At-Bats, Springs provides videos and audio in CD and DVD form, offering his mental approach to hitting, which has become quite popular with coaches and players from the big leagues down to the high schools and even among parents of little leaguers with baseball dreams.

Just check out the testimonials on his site, from Clint Hurdle and Billy Beane to Jose Bautista and John Gibbons.

“I think everybody can benefit from it, if you have a kid that is playing, whether it's a boy or a girl, parents need to get great at knowing what I know,” Springer said. “This is why the CD, if I had an 8-year-old and I want him to play high school and college baseball, you had better be an expert on what I know.”

• • •

Springer had every reason not to be confident. The fact he was drafted in the 20th round by the New York Mets from the University of Utah in 1982 is worthy of acclaim.

"I am the baseball version of 'Rudy', I was a freshman in high school, I was 4'11 and 90 pounds and I only got three at-bats," Springer said. "By the time I was a senior I was 5'8, 140 pounds. My time to shine, right, first year of varsity, I get to show them now, and I have a sophomore take my job."

His brother was a standout at Golden West College in their hometown of Huntington Beach, Calif. Springer thought that would be his path to college baseball, but he was cut from the team, at least for a few days.

"I got cut, so how bad did my coach think I was. My brother was the star of the team and I get cut,” Springer said. "Three days later I was home watching Oprah with my mom not knowing what I am going to do and my brother comes home with a uniform for me because three guys quit."

That normally isn't the resume' for a major league baseball player.

"I was 19 years old, a freshman in college, got three at-bats the whole year and I played in the big leagues," said Springer, who grew four inches prior to his sophomore season. "As brief as it was, I got two hits in each league in the big leagues. I played in 1,591 minor league games, I had 1,592 hits so I was glad to see that.

"God has blessed my life. It is mind-blowing, that is the baseball version of 'Rudy.' It is even better because I wasn't a practice player, I got to the big leagues."

Springer was drafted by the Mets in ‘82 and climbed quickly, getting to Triple-A three years later. He remained there for much of the next 11 years.

"I played for 14 years, spent 11 years in Triple-A so I am sort of a legend in the minor leagues," said Springer, who first learned the value of videotaping hitting and belief skills during a meeting with Mets' coach Tommy McGraw while in Tidewater in 1987.

"He was the roving hitting coach and every time  he was around I was a stud, but I am an idiot, I would carry it for three days after he left and then I would go back in my funk," Springer said. "As dumb as I was, I was smart enough to realize that when he was around I was good.

"I went up to his room, asked him to talk to me and tell me what I needed to do and it changed my life.”

McGraw had put together a video that focused less on hitting mechanics and more on simply having confidence in your abilities.

"I listened to that over 10,000 times," he said, with a smile. "For seven years, if I am in my car, I am listening to it...

“I challenge any player if you have a coach that makes you good, get something on audio with your iPhone for 10, 15 minutes talking about you because he is not out there all the time. If you get moved up, you have got a different coach, and you don't like the coach, doesn't matter.

"That is really how I got the idea to do this and it sort of blew up."

He still listens to those videos.

"My wife is like, 'Really, we have to listen to this crap again'," he said, with a smile. "I am like, 'Yes, honey, sorry.'"

Springer has taken the use of audio and video and used it to teach his mental approach to hitting.

"We give ourselves too much credit to remember what we are taught," he added. "The audio CD is so powerful that I make individual CDs for every Blue Jay player so they have their own personal CD with me and him talking about him."

• • •

Springer toiled in the minor leagues through 1995, eventually playing four games with the Cleveland Indians in 1990, going 2-for-12 with a run scored and an RBI. He played in five games with the Mets two years later, collecting two hits in five at-bats with a double.

"Two reasons, I knew the alternative, getting a real job, I didn't want to do that, and two, I felt like I was good enough to play and just being in the right place at the right time," said Springer, on why he hung in there so long. "I feel blessed to say I got two hits in each league, you can't tell me I couldn't have stuck five years up there, you always think you have a chance."

Springer began making his own hitting videos and found himself with a new passion once his playing days came to an end, having also served as a scout and player agent before getting on with the Blue Jays.

"I made a CD probably 15 years ago just talking about the mental side of hitting and it is out there, it is out there big," Springer said. "I have major league all-stars call me pretty much once a week, it is just awesome, Mark Trumbo is like my son, A.J. Pollack, Paul Goldschmidt.

"They are good players, I don't take credit for everything that they do, but I know I have helped them because they tell me. Now I speak all over the country and try to inspire kids and I made this CD and I have a DVD."

Springer sells his CD for $29 and DVD for $39, and buyers get a $10 discount if they get both through his website, qualityatbats.com. He also has an online academy, which can be reached at onlineacademyatbats.com, and does a couple of podcasts a month.

He can be reached by phone at 714-580-6070 and through Twitter at  @qualityatbats. He also calls anyone who buys his products and thanks them.

“I don't mean to boast, but I believe it is right and this is why these guys are calling me,” Springer said. “I have never asked them to get three hits.

“I have asked them to be the best competitor on the field, hit the ball and help the team win a thousand times. It goes back to getting great. If I am good when I am confident, how do I get and create confidence.”

Editor’s Note: More on Springer on Friday, and his his belief that the batting average is the biggest trap in baseball.  `  

1
Text Only
Local Sports
College Sports
Pro Sports
Photo Gallery - View and Purchase


Click on photos above to view more or purchase.

Local Sports Videos
Facebook