It is not every day that a student gets to shoot the breeze with a major leaguer. However, four students at Eagle Hill Southport School recently had the opportunity to interview Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Alex Cobb via video conference.
The students, Nick Halkowicz of Shelton, Jason Hochberg of Fairfield, Chris Matta of Woodbury and Chris Polley of Westport prepared a series of questions about what it takes to become a major league baseball player.
Cobb, who is the nephew of an Eagle Hill educator, made time from his busy schedule to video-chat with these students — discussing everything from life lessons to two-seam fastballs.
Cobb recounted his experience in Little League when his team’s road to the Little League World Series was cut short by a fielding error.
“The feeling I had in my stomach after an error like that was the worst feeling I ever had,” he said. “I told myself to remember that feeling and whatever I do in life I need to give it my best and try not to lose. Feeling defeat has helped me get competitive as I get older, because I hate losing.”
Chris Polley wanted to know if Cobb ever thought he would be living out his dream.
“It’s hard to say this without sounding conceited, but, yes, I always envisioned doing what I’m doing,” Cobb said. “I remember writing essays for my teachers ‘What do you want to be when you grow up,’ and I always would write: a baseball player. I wanted to tell those teachers to hold onto that, because I’m really going to do it.”
He added, “I am extremely fortunate to be able to do what I do. That little boy inside me is pumped that I put in all that work.”
Cobb also discussed the importance of having a good mentor.
“It is a bit demoralizing when you are a rookie and get the short end of the stick on everything, but some of the veterans were extremely helpful,” he said. “James Shields showed me the ropes and taught me how to look for holes in batters’ swings. He was one of the best, and I was very lucky to watch him for a couple years and see how he goes about his business.”
All four boys said they were enthused by the interview.
“He inspired me a lot,” Jason said. “I learned that it’s important to keep your confidence and never give up on what needs to be done. I now can tell all my friends what good advice he gave us.”