It was a very special Friday for the students in the sports studies baseball program at Polyvalente d’Arvida. They practically hosted Quebecer Abraham Toro, player of the Houston Astros, for whom work ethic and discipline have made all the difference so far.
Because when he sat in their place, he had no idea that one day he would reach the world’s best league.
“When I was studying sports, in Montreal, I was not a player who would be said to be a professional. I did it right, but nothing spectacular. I worked hard, I pushed myself, and that was what took me to the next level. You must try to push as much as possible. “
This is the kind of advice the third baseman gave to around 70 young people pasted on their computers for the occasion. In particular, he talks about his time at Seminole State College in Oklahoma, where several Quebecers had paved the way for him, his adaptation to the realities of smaller baseball, including motel life and the meager $ 290 in salary every other week, but also his many first-time leagues .
Like the historic batting look in October 2020, where he only became the second Quebec player to participate in a playoff game in the major leagues. His preparation for this brief moment of glory, where the pressure was strong, says a lot.
“Even before the series, I knew a bit about my role, which might be to have to start at the end of the game exactly. The fights before, every time, in the 5th or 6th round, I started to warm up, to beat. When I was told I was going to strike, I was very confident because I had done my homework, I had seen videos of all the Rays reliefs. […] I had a good presence, I fought and ended up having a goal on the ball. ”
The organizer of this conference, the interim head coach of Saguenay Lac-Saint-Jean Pioneers, Billy Bilodeau, maintains that the study of baseball sports is now in “a new era”, where this teaching is considered important.
As evidence, the young people also received advice from Jean-Christophe Masson, the views of the Toronto Blue Jays, Édouard Julien, Minnesota Twins, and Eve Crépeau, sports industry expert.
“Bringing beautiful moments like these to life, even in times of pandemic for our youth, is important,” says Bilodeau. The priority for us on the program is really the young people. We thank Abraham for his generosity. “
The role of the ambassador
Originally from Greenfield Park, on the South Shore of Montreal, Abraham Toro enjoys this role as an ambassador, having inspired himself at a younger age, by players like Éric Gagné, and is aware that his sport is still important. get Quebec models at the highest level.
“Me, I grew up and wanted to be like these guys. So if I can help a young person, give some advice that will help his career, it will always make me happy. It’s something I take to heart and help the next generation of baseball. “
In a sport where the vast majority of performances result in “failures”, even for the best hitters, number 31 has emphasized the importance of good physical and mental preparation. It’s a matter of not disturbing all your technique at the first mistake, and rather focusing on the small details to correct.
It is certainly not COVID-19 that will have prevented Abraham Toro from preparing for next season. The latter expects to see more ground this year and aims to hit twenty long balls.
“I think I should have a better chance of being normal this year. When the camp starts, it will be up to me to prove myself and show that I can play every day. […] In bigger baseball, when you hit, we find you a position. So for me, prioritization is to strike. They can make me play in the field, on the first base, third, second, they can touch me a little. “
Well aware that his team is “the most hated” in baseball, after the recent scandal related to the theft of signals, he does not say that he is unreasonably disturbed, and sees it more as a “challenge”.
From the end of January, Abraham Toro plans to travel to Oklahoma to polish his physical preparation, in preparation for the start of the Astros’ training camp in mid-February.