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When the starter came back, Freddie went back down to the minor league farm team in Nashville. “That’s my role – filling in,” Freddie said. “But hopefully I opened a lot of eyes. I said, ‘Well, I’ll get called back up again.’ It worked out pretty well.” He did get called back up and contributed as a utility infielder, able to play any position in which he was needed.

He opened some more eyes with his play that season and was signed by the new Colorado Rockies expansion team, a team for which he could be a starter.

On opening day of the 1993 season, Freddie Benavides was in the starting lineup for the Colorado Rockies.

The following season he was signed by the defending world champion Montreal Expos – the best baseball team in the world.

All this from a player that the big league scouts said could not play for a top-tier team.

Ed Bernd Jr. sat next to a major league scout one day while flying back from a course in Las Vegas. The scout mentioned that he remembered evaluating Freddie. He said he felt that Freddie did not have the talent to play for a top-tier team, but he might be good enough to play for a second-tier team long enough to qualify for a pension – six seasons. “I’m sorry,” he had said, “but that’s all I see for him”

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The mental game is the key to success

Freddie and Violeta agree that their programming helped make the dream come true.

“We just kind of did it, and it clicked,” Freddie recalled about those difficult days in Nashville. “I got called up to the major leagues, and I guess the confidence level went up. We started setting goals, and we both started reaching goals.

“I started hitting the ball well – brought my average back up. Everybody has slumps. You just have to get out of it. There’s a lot of pressure, trying to get up to the big leagues – a lot of stress.”

When it comes to being successful in the big leagues, the mental aspect of the game is the key, Benavides said. “They say the game is 90 percent mental. It’s true,” he emphasized.

You’ve got to do your programming and preparation ahead of time, Freddie emphasized. If you don’t program until you are in a bind, it is too late. You have to program until it becomes automatic.

“Once you step to the plate, you’ve got to clear your mind, just see the ball and hit the ball, and let your muscle memory take over,” Freddie said. “A lot of repetition, muscle memory, and then your mind works. I was thinking too much at the plate, and nothing happened.

“I was trying to be all mental, to use positive visualization. You can’t,” he added.

Freddie says that he usually programs once a day – “at night when we’re ready to go to sleep. We use visualization. We imagine reaching all the goals we set. I imagine being at bat, hitting line drives, base hits, stuff like that.”

Freddie Benavides proved that he has something inside him that has taken him far beyond where his natural talent could. He may not have had any role models in Laredo when he wanted to play major league baseball, but now he is serving as a good role model for anyone who wants to reach his or her goals.

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