In a few short weeks, ballplayers from around the country will take to the diamond at their respective Spring Training facilities for the start of another season.
Younger plays might have a sense of nervousness and anxiety while buttoning up their jerseys, coupled with a sense of excitement and motivation for the opportunities that lie ahead.
For Tunkhannock grad Rich Condeelis, that sense of nervousness and excitement remain a part of everyday life, but no longer in preparation for the pitcher’s mound.
After two years with the Minnesota Twins organization, Condeelis decided to forgo his pursuit of making the Major Leagues and instead focus on the next chapter of life after baseball.
“Unfortunately, everyone that plays the game knows that you’re going to have to walk away at some point,” Condeelis said. “That comes sooner for some than others, and I felt that it was my time. I would have loved to have had the opportunity to play professionally, but I always told myself that even though I love the game of baseball, I don’t need it to be successful. I put all that passion into the game, but can put the same passion into something else. The amount of effort that goes into baseball is the same amount of effort that goes into what I’m doing now, and it’s certainly prepared me for another career.”
Because of his interest in economics and finance, Condeelis spent some time during the offseason overseeing the day-to-day lifestyle of Capstone Wealth Management Group, a investment advisory firm located in Clarks Green.
Though considered a backup plan at the time, Condeelis knew that finding another baseball organization on short notice would prove tough, and jumped at the opportunity to join the firm when a position became available.
After countless hours of studying and training, Condeelis is now a full-time financial advisor and wealth manager — in a sense, he’s traded in his jersey for a suit and tie.
“The biggest thing I’ll miss is putting on that jersey and preparing for the next game,” Condeelis said. “I loved the preparation as much as I did playing and really took so much pride in that. In this business, though, there’s a similar feeling. I’m constantly preparing for the changes we face every day, just like I did in baseball. It’s like everything else in life, I get out what I put in. You miss the camaraderie, you miss the relationships that you made with so many different people, but you can take all those great values and experiences and find a way to apply them to the now.”
Condeelis was drafted out of the University of Pittsburgh in the 36th round in June of 2015.
Used as a relief pitcher, he went 1-3 with a 12.33 ERA in 12 games with the Twins in the Florida Gulf Coast League and struck out 20 batters while walking 12 in 15.1 innings.
In June of 2016, Condeelis was released from the Twins organization along with five other players to make roster room for incoming 2016 draft picks, who reported to Extended Spring Training in Fort Myers, Florida, in their place.
Though the move was certainly disappointing, it’s not something Condeelis continues to dwell on.
“I know it’s cliche, but I really do believe that things happen for a reason,” he said. “As a professional baseball player, you learn to critique yourself, and there were definitely nights that I lied awake and thought about doing things differently. But, I got to play at an extremely high level with the Twins, which gave me that passion, drive and lessons learned for today. I don’t look back on that as a failure, because if anything, it’s allowed myself to apply all of that to what I’m doing now. I’m going to make something positive out of it.”
The 23-year-old Condeelis continues to remain in incredible physical shape, joking that he’s now able to spend much more time in the gym now than he was as a player.
He continues to help out at baseball clinics in the area, with the overall message that though one dream might come to an end, it only opens the door for another one to begin.
“Every young player has dreams and goals,” Condeelis said, “and you couldn’t have convinced me that I wouldn’t make it to the highest level. That drove me, but I also think that some kids are surrounded with an all-or-nothing attitude and that you’ll either make it or be a complete failure. I don’t think that’s true. Everything you do in life is a lesson and an opportunity to form failure and success into what you are today. You don’t need to put all your eggs in one basket. I do hope to continue giving back to the game that gave me so much and give my story to the younger kids who had the same dreams and ambitions that I had.”
“Frankly, it’s okay to have goals outside of baseball.”