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Tim Collins: Why Everyone Should be a Kansas City Royals Fan (at least for a day)

Written on March 30, 2011 at 5:52 pm, by Eric Cressey

Professional baseball really is an enigma.

On one hand, some professional players are bad-bodied one-trick ponies who aren’t athletic enough to train their way out of a wet paper bag. And, many of them are okay with it.

On the other hand, you’ve got players getting arrested for crimes so stupid that you wonder if they even appreciate the fact that they get to play a game for millions of dollars each year. They’re just so anxious to take it for granted that they let waste it away.

It would be a really depressing picture if it wasn’t for optimism and enthusiasm of the millions of up-and-coming baseball players around the globe who dream of one day playing in the big leagues. And, we DO have some diamonds in the rough in professional baseball who stand out as fantastic role models for these aspiring players with their efforts both on and off the field.

I’m thrilled to say that the major leagues gained another Ambassador of Awesomeness today when the Kansas City Royals announced that Cressey Performance Athlete Tim Collins would be on their opening day roster – and that’s why I’m probably on a plane to Kansas City as you read this. While hundreds of young athletes (and our staff and adult clients) in the Cressey Performance circle alone already appreciate Tim as a tremendously positive influence in our community, with this promotion, a lot more people are going to appreciate just how special Tim’s story is.

If you’ve read this blog at all in the past, you’ve probably come across Tim’s story as the ultimate longshot. In case you missed it, check out this article.

The long story short is that Tim was overlooked by every single Division 1 school in the country in spite of being the ace of a high school team that compiled a record of 91-5 over Tim’s four years of school. His high school numbers were absolutely video-game-like, but he was overlooked because he was only 5-5, 130 pounds. Former Toronto Blue Jays general manager JP Ricciardi came across Tim by accident in the summer of 2007 when scouting an American Legion game – where Tim struck out all 12 batters he faced with a low 80s fastball, but an absolute “Kaboom” curveball. Two days later, JP and the Blue Jays took a leap of faith, and in the single greatest baseball scouting story I’ve come across, signed Tim – who, at age 17, had never left the Northeast – and sent him to rookie ball…the next day!

This is where Cressey Performance entered the equation. Tim had been committed to play at the Community College of Rhode Island on a baseball scholarship – and he was going to be roommates with another one of my athletes. The two had played against one another in high school extensively and stayed in touch – and when Tim got back from his first few months in minor league baseball, this “roommate that never was” encouraged me to reach out to Tim because he thought I could really help Tim. I made the call, and the next day, here’s what walked in to CP on October 12, 2007:

That, folks, is what 5-5, 131 pounds looks like. And, that’s a body that was lucky to touch 82-83 on the radar gun. That’s only the tip of the iceberg, though.

That first week, my business partner, Tony, and I took Tim to the track with us to do some movement training. I figured, “Hey, this is a professional athlete; he’ll be able to move pretty well.” I couldn’t have been more wrong. Tony and I whipped him all over the track. He got beaten by a good 8-10 yards on every single sprint, and spent more time wheezing than he did training. He had the fuzzy dice (curveball), but no horse power in the engine. His vertical jump was 25.0 inches (a peak power of 4497 watts, considering the body weight of 131).

It would have been very easy for Tim to tap out that morning at the track. He could have just resigned himself to being a slug in the off-season like so many professional baseball players. Pitchers aren’t athletes, right? Well, this one committed himself to becoming one.

Over the next three off-seasons, the entire Cressey Performance community watched Tim transform. Each year, his weight and athleticism shot up – and he’s now about 172 pounds with a vertical jump of 38.7 inches (7453 watts – or a 66% improvement in 3.5 years).

More importantly, this athleticism directly carried over to increased throwing velocity and pitching performance. In 2008, he jumped up to 87-89mph. In 2009, it was 90-92, and 2010, he was 92-94 – while reportedly touching a 97 on the stadium gun. Oh, and entering the 2011 season, Tim had a career ERA of 2.26 in 223 professional innings, – with 329 strikeouts (13.3 per 9 innings). And, he just turned 21 in September.

That’s the tip of the iceberg, though. We’ve had lots of guys get more athletic and perform better in their chosen sports. There are a few things that make Tim’s story even more special.

First, of course, is the simple fact that he defied the odds and has made it to the big leagues as a long-shot – when only 3% of players ever drafted ever make it this far in their career. And, he did it as an undrafted free agent signing. Nobody ever crunches the numbers on these guys because, frankly, it almost never happens; they are scouting “afterthoughts.”

So, it’s an awesome story because it meant that every time Tim went out and “shoved” against opposing hitters on his way through the minor leaguers, he also “shoved” against baseball traditionalism. He showed that pitchers need to be athletes, that strength and conditioning really can change a career significantly, and that there are some situations where scouts really don’t know a stud from a dud. And, he has shown – and will continue to show – loads of impressionable young athletes that working hard really does pay off, even while other professional athletes are being lazy and destroying their bodies and careers, or being unethical and taking the easy way out.

Second, and more interestingly to me, I’ve watched Tim mature exponentially as a person – far moreso than anyone else his age who went to college. He was thrown into the real world quickly, and he matured and thrived, coming out of his shell and becoming a wildly popular part of Cressey Performance. The kid who used to barely talk when he came in to train now spends about eight hours a day at CP – between training and just hanging out in the office chatting with other clients and our staff. In perhaps my favorite story, last spring, we watched Tim sell over 90 boxes of Girl Scout cookies for one of our adult client’s daughter. He literally set up a makeshift desk in our office and met everyone at the door. And, even against the objections of CP nutrition expert, Brian St. Pierre, just about everyone obliged because, well, it was Tim – and he makes people smile.

Simply, changing his body and surrounding himself with the right people in the right environment played a big part in shaping Tim as a person. While quantifiable results are certainly very important, these more subjective changes are ones that every fitness professional and strength and conditioning coach hopes for with their clients and athletes. As I see Tim signing autographs, doing charity work, and taking younger players under his wing, I’m thrilled that he’s “paying it forward.”

The Kansas City Royals might not be a favorite to win the American League Central, but there’s still something to be excited about in Kansas City right now: a great guy getting to live a dream to which he has dedicated himself relentlessly to achieve.

Congratulations, Tim. I know I can speak for all the Cressey Performance staff and clients when I say that we couldn’t be more proud of you and happy for you. Thanks for having us all along for the ride!

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43 Responses to “Tim Collins: Why Everyone Should be a Kansas City Royals Fan (at least for a day)”

  1. Antony Donskov Says:

    Amazing story! Congrats on the fine accomplishment. What a PROUD moment.

  2. Darren Alomes Says:

    Beautiful. Every coaches dream to coach an athlete like that.

  3. Domenic Says:

    Great article! The improvement is remarkable, especially with the throwing speed, that is one of those physical abilities along with jumping that is widely assumed to be god-given, hard work paid off the put it mildly!

  4. Kevin Says:

    I’ve been following Tim’s story and career on here for a while and it’s always been an inspiration. I was beyond excited when my Braves got him in the trade from Toronto (Billy Wagner 2.0, anyone?) and beyond bummed when they shipped him off to KC. Nonetheless, he’s definitely a player I admire and one I’ll be rooting for all year. Awesome to see all that hard work pay off!

  5. Ari Says:

    I can’t wait to see Tim stick it to the Blue Jays every time he pitches against them to remind them of what they could have had!

  6. R Smith Says:

    Eric,

    It’s remarkable that Tim was the first person I met when I visited CP. He was so cool, nice and accommodating that I was surprised to learn on this blog weeks later that he did not work there. Just a genuinely great guy, and one that we are all excited to see succeed.

    I AM a Royals fan. (My mom bought me a Royals shirt when I was six, and it kinda stuck with me.)

    BTW: Great piece of writing.

    RS

  7. Jon Goodman Says:

    The fact he’s not on the Jays roster makes me very upset. Just think that our roster could very easily have had Collins, Halladay, and Lincecum. Oh well, we’ll have to take down the Yankees and Red Sox some other way.

  8. Paul J. Connolly Says:

    This is GREAT stuff Eric!

  9. David Kusin Says:

    Eric, congrats to Tim on his hard work! He really deserves a lot of credit. But I’m really not so surprised…he trained with the best in the business! I’m sure you’ll be turning out plenty more guys like this in the future. Keep being awesome.

  10. Luka Hocevar Says:

    That is such a great story and I’m happy both for Tim and the whole CP team.
    Definitely passing this on to all my baseball guys to see not only that it can be done but that it can be done with class!

    Great job Tim, Eric and everyone at CP!

    Luka

  11. Jason Says:

    This is great stuff! That’s an amazing transformation in both performance and physique! Its refreshing to see that Tim is such a stand up guy both on and off the field. Eric and Tim, congrats and great job! Looking forward to seeing Tim play this year.

  12. Chris Tombs Says:

    Fantastic story, truly inspirational to all aspiring athletes. Tim and just as importantly Cressey Performance deserve the success both parties richly have earned! Hopefully see you in Vegas I am going to be at NSCA conference!!

  13. Daniel Iaciofano Says:

    Great story Eric!

  14. James Brandenburg Says:

    My son and I met Tim at CP in Dec. 2009, and he made a great impression on us. Can’t wait to get up to KC and see him in a game, and we wish him all the success in the world! Congrats to everybody at CP and to Tim on his accomplishment–I hope it’s just the tip of the iceberg!

  15. Jason Hodges Says:

    As a lifelong Royals fan, I’m excited for Tim and the team.

  16. shama Says:

    congrats coach, job well done. i know there will be more disciples lining up at your door steps. congrats to a well deserving athlete too, Tim is the kind of spokesperson baseball needs right now. (or any sport for that matter). tc, sham

  17. Clement Says:

    Congratulation, Tim and Eric. You’ve showed many people the importance of commitment, hard work and strength and conditioning, even in today’s modern game. Talent or genetics isn’t everything.

  18. James Mee Says:

    Great Article!
    Can anyone help me = how can i work out my wattage based off my weight and VJ height (weight 280lbs, VJ 20″)??
    Cheers

  19. Keith Says:

    Eric/Tim:

    This is already the feel good story of the year!
    It has been fun and inspirational to watch this develop over the last couple of years. Your dedication and perseverance are qualities that we should all aim for.
    Thank you for sharing.
    Tim, best of luck and I’m going to pick you up for my fantasy team!
    When are you slated to pitch your first game?

  20. Hans Hageman Says:

    Congratulations! I enjoyed sharing this with my youngest son as a lesson and perseverance.

  21. Chris August Says:

    Eric,
    Congratulations to yourself and everyone @ Cressey Performance.The success of Tim is a tribute to what Cressey Performance can do for one who aspires to be in the Majors. It goes to show that hard work along with the right training program and guidance can lead to success.

  22. Rick Kaselj Says:

    EC,

    Very cool story!

    Look forward to some photos from the game.

    Rick Kaselj of http://ExercisesForInjuries.com

    .

  23. Ryan Wimble Says:

    Unbelievable story. The Major’s need more guys like this, Congrats Tim. Keep climbing the ladder!

  24. Mike Says:

    Great story.

    I put Tim and Youk on my fantasy team, just because I know where they trained all winter.

  25. Roland Says:

    Tim & Eric,

    You did what others dream. Awesome work.

    Thanks guys!

  26. Jilligan Says:

    Thanks so much for sharing his story, what a great piece of writing!

  27. bmcginty Says:

    Applied sound training, great attitude, almost always yields great results but the training atmosphere and expertise is what shines through here congratulations to CP

  28. Juan Jose Tovar Says:

    Congratulations Im happy for you guys.
    As an example of a baseball player who has given a lot to his comunity I will like to name Edgar Renteria from the Cincinnati Reds. Hes from my country Colombia where he has helped the homeless a lot especially the children.

  29. Jeff Blair Says:

    Great story, Eric-congratulations and enjoy!

  30. Lisa Says:

    I can honestly say that I am not a baseball fan, but after reading this, I will be cheering for the Royals. Loved the article.

  31. Rich T. Says:

    Great story! Gotta love the underdogs! The baseball version of the movie “Rudy” could be in the works!

    The fact that only 3% of players drafted make it to the big leagues makes it all the more impressive! Never knew the number was that small.

  32. Ron Says:

    Congrats- great job on your part and tremendous work by Tim. I hope he has a long and great career.

  33. Mark Says:

    Kansas City is excited to have him. A lot of positive buzz surrounding him and his great story. Hope you enjoy the game.

  34. Alex Katsanos Says:

    Heartwarming Coach Cressey…I usually don’t comment but you must be proud. Congratulations!

  35. Doug F Says:

    Eric
    Great story and thanks for posting someone who others can look up to. I get pretty frustrated with all of these “anti-heros” being given so much media time.

    Great for the kids to look up to someone like Tim!

  36. Doug F Says:

    Eric
    Great story and thanks for posting someone who others can look up to. I get pretty frustrated with all of these “anti-heroes” being given so much media time.

    What I also experienced beyond the great training at CP was the environment you set up. Everyone there was well mannered and pleasant. It was a far cry from other gyms I have seen. You and Tony deserve a lot of credit.

    Great for the kids to look up to someone like Tim!

  37. Ryan Christie Says:

    Great post Coach Cressey! Really inspirational and that is the reason that we are in this business, to help change lives. All the best to Tim with the Royals!

  38. kel Says:

    I love a story about another lil Rhody-er!

    This is the website I use to stay in shape!

    http://ultimateathleticfitness.com/

  39. Dave Says:

    Did you see the kid have a great out in the home opener? Congratulations to all who helped him along his journey.

  40. Jason - Core Routine Says:

    Loved the post. Great inspiration. Congratulations.

  41. kyle Says:

    GREAT job Eric! and gooooooooo Tim!!!!!!!

  42. Jim Delaney Says:

    Eric,
    I showed this story to my 2 kids, and they were very impressed. There was an article in last Sunday’s New York Times on Tim Collins. Here is the link. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/24/sports/baseball/24pitcher.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=tim%20collins%20baseball&st=cse

    On a separate note, I wanted to ask you a question regarding my own 2 kids (a daughter 14 and a son 12). They both play AAU basketball about 10 months of the year and my son also plays travel baseball. Is it ok for them to start some sort of a weightlifting program for both their upper and lower body? Thanks for your help

    Jim Delaney

  43. Don Ervin Says:

    The best of luck to “TIM COLLINS” When I first observed Tim pitching I said “OUCH” how has his arm lasted this long? due to the fact that his first move from the rubber was a big deep squat of his hips along with a deep collapse of his drive foot ankle and knee which kills the initial linear movement due to the fact that the pitchers first movement at the peak of the knee lift should be linear, moving the hips forward with the stride foot and leg following, most pitchers at all levels start out just the opposite by first striding with the stride foot then following with the hips thus leaving the arm to execute the majority of the body’s physical throwing energy.
    Hey Eric Tim certainly did come out of his sessions with you better built and throwing with more velocity but his body mechanics still need to be improved.
    The pitchers body in motion/movement from the rubber to it’s final flat back follow through position should function within a series of sequenced,chained reactive body movements to be executed at the proper time and in their proper sequence, compliments of Dr. Andrews and his associates through their scientific research.
    Eric, keep up the great work that you do.
    Don Ervin
    dfervin32@yahoo.com

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