In case you weren’t already aware, I’m a huge Albert Almora Jr. honk. Whether it was the passion I saw from him in A-ball at Daytona or the way he came back to sign more autographs for kids prior a AA game in Tennessee, he’s impossible not to like. And with his recent appearance on the Spiegel & Parkins show, Almora reinforced exactly what this Cubs front office saw in him when they made him their first draft choice.
“I’ve gone through my stages where I thought I was the best in the world growing up, but I got humbled quick. This game finds a way to humble you know matter what level.
“I think the first time the game humbled me was — I think I was 13 years old — and I just came back from my first USA team and won a gold medal. I was one of the best guys in the tournament, whatever. And I think I had a travel-ball tournament with my home team and my first at-bat, I hit a lineout or something and I threw the helmet and I ended up skimming one of my coaches and I just saw the look on my parents’ faces of disappointment and sheer anger, to be honest with you.
“And I remember the rest of that day I did well, I ended up getting two or three hits. But when I got in the car on the ride home, I can’t begin to describe how disappointed and how upset my parents were and that got to me more than anything. You know, I though I did well, two or three hits that day, but it was that action that I had at my first at-bat that really upset them, and that’s not the way they had raised me.
“So that was my first humbling experience that I was like, ‘You know what, I’m never doing this again.’ So it was pretty cool, actually.”
Yeah, I’d say that’s pretty cool. For Almora to have that level of self-awareness at such a young age, particularly when his precociousness had already led to a fair amount of acclaim on the field, is impressive. Even more impressive is how that memory from a decade ago remains a guiding force in how he carries himself today. Almora knows that it’s not all about him, which has been particularly important since the call-up of Ian Happ took away a chunk of his playing time.
“Hey, this is a team game, so I don’t think [Happ playing center] is a humbling experience for me. No, this is not about me. This is about the Chicago Cubs and we want the best nine out there every day to contribute for a win, and whatever Skip puts out there, then that’s what we gotta go with. I mean, it’s pretty simple for me, man. I’m not that type of guy, like ‘Oh no.’ Obviously, I’m a competitor, I wanna play, I wanna help.
“But whatever my job is that day, if it’s to come off the bench and try to contribute off the bench, so be it. This is not about me, this is about the team, and I’m just happy to be part of such a great organization.”
This probably sounds really corny, but I got chills listening to that answer. From the sounds of their discussion following the interview, it sounded as if the hosts were pretty impressed by Almora’s candor and humility as well. If you haven’t already listed, you can do so via the link above. There’s a lot more in there regarding the young outfielder’s love for the game and his mindset on and off the field that I think you’ll enjoy.