Introducing: Eli Harpalani
Too often in today's society, a genuine smile and a good positive attitude are hard to come by. I found both in spades from my latest interviewee, Pennsylvania native Eli Harpalani.
Eli grew up in Wexford, PA, a township just about 30 minutes outside Pittsburgh. Among its other natives are pop sensation Christina Aguilera, former Pittsburgh Steelers QB Charlie Batch, and other former Steelers players. Baseball has always been the sport for Eli ever since he was young. He remembers always enjoying riding into the city of Pittsburgh with his Dad seeing the stadium where his beloved Pirates played, and telling his Dad, "I'm gonna make it there someday. I want to go to the big leagues."
Eli's father believed him then and, to this day, is his biggest supporter. Always finding time to take him out and throw him balls to work on his fielding as he would later become an infielder. It wasn't just his Dad, though; Eli's sister served as a big inspiration to him. Being a member of the Down syndrome community, athletics didn't come easily for her, but she rose above that and became a serious and successful athlete for the Special Olympics, proving that if she could do it, anybody could. This brought back memories of my own experiences participating in the very same Special Olympics.
Coming to Geneva, Eli hopes to bring with him his arm accuracy. He prides himself in being quite accurate in throwing the ball to bases from his position, whether it be shortstop or second baseman. On the other hand, he hopes to work on the mentality of the game as it pertains to his sense of perfection. He knows that the stresses of the game can affect one's mentality on the field, but he will try to keep in mind that baseball is just a game, and mistakes will be made regardless.
Eli likes to put a lot of time in the gym lifting and trying to build on his small frame, as he says. He spends three hours extra apart from practice lifting and fielding ground balls and pop-ups. On game days, he will follow the same regiment of getting up, eating the same foods, and even parking in the same place when he gets to the ballpark. His musical tastes differ on the situation. Recreationally, he likes to listen to country music, especially Morgan Wallen, but he will mix in rock music and rap music to prepare himself on game days.
It was a pleasure to speak to someone as positive as Eli, and my time talking to him has affected me in that I will always try to remain positive and try to have a smile on my face at all times. Look for Eli to patrol the infield as he joins the Red Wings this summer.