A number of players in the big leagues can wow fans with their performances on the field, but some of them also have incredibly interesting backstories about their road to the major leagues.
Many players have had to deal with personal issues or injuries and have persevered to reach the MLB. Movies have been made about players like this in the past, such as The Rookie, which was based on Jim Morris' career.
That film was seen by a number of people and made over $75 million (h/t IMDB). Baseball fans would certainly be interested in other films like this.
As the No. 1 overall pick of the 1999 MLB draft, there were incredibly high expectations for Josh Hamilton. The Tampa Bay Rays were hoping that he could develop into the franchise's first homegrown star.
Hamilton appeared to be on that path as he mashed his way through the low minors. However, Hamilton's career was quickly derailed.
After being injured in a car accident in 2001, Hamilton's life spiraled downward. He became involved with drugs and did not play in the minor leagues at any point between 2003 and 2005.
The Chicago Cubs then chose Hamilton in the Rule 5 draft and sent him to the Cincinnati Reds, who gave him a chance. Hamilton quickly showed the promise that made him the first overall pick and he has since gone on to become a star.
R.A. Dickey managed to go from a first-round pick to a washout. However, he was eventually able to turn things around all because of one pitch.
Despite being an elite talent, Dickey did not get big money after being drafted because he did not have a UCL in his pitching elbow. Dickey had some decent numbers in the minor leagues, but he was not living up to the billing of a first-round pick.
After struggling with the Texas Rangers organization, he bounced around with the Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins and Seattle Mariners as he began to learn to throw the knuckleball.
Dickey finally figured things out once he joined the New York Mets, and at age 35, he put together his first solid major league season. Just two years later, Dickey would go on to be the National League Cy Young Award winner.
In addition to his life on the baseball field, Dickey is a very interesting character off of it. Dickey has given his bats names such as Orcrist the Goblin Cleaver, which should give you a good idea of his personality (h/t Tyler Kepner of The New York Times).
In his book Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest for Truth, Authenticity and the Perfect Knuckleball, Dickey details some of the personal issues that he had growing up.
Considering everything, Dickey's story is outstanding and is one that would make for a great film.
It takes hard work to become a professional baseball player, and Ichiro Suzuki was forced to practice day in and day out by his father when he was young. In fact, Suzuki once mentioned that it was almost like hazing for him (h/t Jim Caple of ESPN).
Most people would have given up or crumbled under this pressure, but not Ichiro. He went on to dominate in high school in Japan. From an early age, Ichiro was able to dominate the NPB, resulting in three straight MVP awards and seven straight batting titles.
Ichiro then came to the United States and was able to pick up right where he left off. In his first season in the MLB, he won the AL MVP award, AL Rookie of the Year award and the AL batting title.
A kid with a dream is a very powerful thing. Many people dream of becoming a professional baseball player, but few ever reach that goal.
The path to the majors is never identical for any two players and some take much longer to get their shot at the big leagues.
Daniel Nava was a part of the team at Santa Clara University when he first enrolled at the school and served as the equipment manager (h/t Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com). After playing at a junior college, Nava returned to Santa Clara as a member of the team.
When the MLB draft rolled around, no teams were interested in Nava, so he went to play for the Chico Outlaws of the Golden Baseball League. He hit .371 with 12 home runs and was named league MVP.
After that performance, the Boston Red Sox purchased his contract for $1 (h/t Castrovince). It was clear that the team was not expecting much from him.
Nava was able to work his way up through the minors and eventually earned a spot on the Red Sox roster in 2010. It is safe to say that the team got a good return on their investment.
Albert Pujols tried to do whatever he could to enjoy the game of baseball and did not let his personal circumstances get in the way. His father was an alcoholic and he lived with a number of his relatives as a result. When he was growing up in the Dominican Republic, Pujols couldn't afford a glove so he used one made from a milk carton (h/t Joe Posnanski of Sports Illustrated).
Pujols eventually moved to the United States and played his high school ball in Independence, Mo. while learning to speak English. Opposing teams thought he was a bit old for a high school student and some refused to pitch to him in protest (h/t Posnanski). When they did throw strikes, Pujols hit them hard.
Despite playing in the Kansas City Royals' backyard, the team decided to pass on him in the draft a number of times. Tampa Bay Rays scout Fernando Arango was convinced that Pujols was going to be a star and actually quit his job after the team did not draft him (h/t Jonah Keri of ESPN).
The St. Louis Cardinals decided to pick Pujols in the 13th round, and it was one of the best decisions that they ever made. Pujols turned into an elite player that could be considered a once-in-a-generation talent. He eventually led the Cardinals to two World Series titles.