Monday, September 6, 2010

St. Pierre's feel-good story shows power of perseverance and positive thinking

    One of the pre-game chores that many  big leaguers dread the most is autographing the seemingly-endless supply of baseballs in the locker room. But when one of the kids who works in the Tigers' clubhouse approached Max St. Pierre with two dozen blank balls to sign Monday morning, the rookie catcher gladly grabbed them and immediately began affixing his autograph.
    "I'm in the big leagues," St. Pierre explained, smiling. "I've been waiting all these years just to get here. It's been unbelievable."
    And he's not about to complain -- about anything.
    St. Pierre's feel-good story is a monument to the power of perseverance, patience and positive thinking.
    For 14 seasons, St. Pierre toiled in the bushes, playing in places like Oneonta, Lakeland, Erie (six times), and Toledo. "I tried to stay positive, but I'm not getting any younger," he admitted.
    Along the way, St. Pierre overcame a drinking problem, was traded and released.
    "It would have been easy to quit, I thought about it," he confessed.
    Because he was born in Quebec and spoke with a French accent, he had a hard time communicating with the pitchers when he first signed with the Tigers in 1997. "They couldn't understand me because of my accent," he recalled. "They thought I was dumb."
    But St. Pierre didn't let that derail him, either.
    For nearly 1,000 minor league games, St. Pierre crouched behind home plate, waiting for his dream to happen, waiting for the chance that even he was beginning to believe might never come.
    Particularly this year after he dislocated his left thumb in mid-May and broke his left hand in late June.
    St. Pierre's hand still hurts every time he catches a ball. "They tell me it'll take two or three months to heal," he said.
    But he doesn't mind.
    "I'm in the big leagues," he said again.
    For the 30-year-old St. Pierre, the call he had been awaiting for nearly half his life, finally arrived last week when the Tigers summoned him to the big leagues because of Gerald Laird's lingering back spasms.
    And his phone hasn't stopped ringing since.
    "In the minors, when my phone would ring, it was only my mother or my wife who would be calling," St. Pierre said.
    "Now it's everybody.
    "Voice mail, texts, lots of face book -- everything.  Since I've been here it's been on fire. Radio shows, newspapers, friends -- people I haven't even talked to since high school now what to be my friends. I'd say, total, 200 or 300 messages. And it's not stopping. It's been unbelievable.
    "I'm enjoying it, for sure," he added.


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