Editor's Note: Former Harvard hurler Frank Herrmann '06, a prospect
with the Cleveland Indians, reported to camp in Winter Haven, Fla. last
week. This is his diary.
Over the course of my first few days at
Cleveland Indians’ Spring Training I have experienced many firsts, from
having a bearded woman take my order at the local Winter Haven Taco
Bell to seeing my name sewn on the back of a professional baseball
jersey. Almost from the onset, I have felt like an alien in a foreign
Entering the fifteen-passenger van that picked me up
from the airport, and quickly nodding and saying “hello” to the other
five players inside, marked the end of normalcy for me.
uneasiness that ensued over the next hour and ten minutes, from Orlando
International Airport to my temporary home at the Holiday Inn, could
easily have been the subject of an episode of Larry David’s HBO series,
“Curb Your Enthusiasm.” There was not a single word of English spoken
between my new Venezuelan, Dominican and Puerto Rican teammates. I
would venture to say that there were at least five good laughs at the
expense of the white kid in the back with the “Harvard Baseball”
t-shirt on. I have no doubt that I will spend the next six months
kicking myself for taking French rather than Spanish in high school.
Haven is a bizarre place in itself. Both aesthetically pleasing and
often extremely drab, the area is reminiscent of a summer resort town,
with the caveat being that now is its “season.”
miles of orange groves and lush greenery along the two-lane highway
leading into Winter Haven. However, the town itself is home to some
motels I wouldn’t have considered staying in for post-prom.
give a rough idea of the area, I had to pay twelve cents for grocery
bags to carry home my purchases from the nearby Save-A-Lot.
the people here are crazy about their Indians. Almost every storefront
has a “Go Tribe” or “Welcome Indians” sign in its window. I would liken
being a ballplayer in the Winter Haven area to being a Rhodes Scholar
at Harvard and having everyone know about it—i.e. you’re “kind of a big
One of the most intriguing things that I have noticed
so far are the vastly different paths to professional baseball that
many of my teammates have taken.
My locker aisle alone
includes a Notre Dame graduate; an 18 year-old who signed for more than
a million dollars out of high school; three international players who
cannot speak a word of English; and my roommate, Zach, who dropped out
of high school and took a three-year hiatus that eventually ended with
him signing with his hometown team after a rare open tryout.
aspect of my Harvard experience was that I had the opportunity to meet
an interesting and diverse group of people that I otherwise would never
have met. Similarly, I am excited to witness how my teammates, with
such assorted backgrounds, will be able to come together and compete as
Judging by my first few days here, I think it’s safe to say that anything is fair game.
—Herrmann can be reached at email@example.com. His diary appears every Wednesday.