The envy of his buddies, Spink living out his dream

July 27, 2014

Damen Bell Holter BasketballMost people pursue traditional jobs after college, but not Conor Spink of Eagle River. He wanted to be a baseball player.

This is the third season the 26-year-old southpaw has pitched in an independent league with the Lincoln Salt Dogs of the American Association after playing at Seattle University.

It’s not the big leagues, but Spink still feels like a million bucks because he’s fulfilling every Little Leaguer’s dream of playing baseball for a living.

“All my friends have 9-to-5s,” Spink told me, “and they are like, ‘if I could be in your position’ traveling around and competing and doing something that I love, even if it’s not super glamourous, they would change places with me in a heartbeat.”

Spink, of Chugiak High fame, isn’t about to get a big head. He can’t afford to get complacent.

The 6-foot-3 lefty has to stay sharp mentally because one misstep can be the difference between a home run and a groundout. And you can’t dwell on the past whether it’s good, bad, or ugly.

“You have to keep a short memory,” he said. “If you do well you can feel good about yourself until midnight or so, then the next day you have to go back out there and perform.”

He wasn’t always this mature.

“In college or when I was younger [after games] it was end of the world or I was flying 10 feet off the ground,” Spink said. “If anything, baseball has taught me to handle failure. It’s never really accepted no matter how many times you blow a game.”

Spink is enjoying his best season with the Saltdogs in his three years as a pro. He had a 26.2-inning scoreless streak at one point coming out of the bullpen. Overall he is 4-1 with a 2.01 ERA in 21 games.

“I feel like I have potential to pitch at the highest level and I’ve been told by scouts and coaches that I just need to be a little more refined, but I know I can pitch.

Spink likes to envision himself coming out of the pen for the New York Yankees one day. “Aim high,” he cracked.

But in reality this year might be his ninth inning.

“Realistically this is probably going to be my last year,” Spink said. “If I don’t get called up I might go play winter ball. You can make good money playing ball in Mexico.”