I was born in Richmond Hill, Ontario, but I actually grew up in a town about 20 minutes away called Newmarket.
There's nobody else from my town playing here in the big leagues. There was Minor League baseball there when I was growing up, and great coaches, but nobody else from the area has advanced to the Major Leagues.
There are more baseball players than you might imagine in the greater Toronto area. Other than British Columbia, the Toronto area probably has more kids playing ball than any other place in Canada.
Wanting to play baseball in college, I decided to attend Galveston Community College in Texas. Other Canadian players had gone to Galveston and the school had a good reputation. I figured that Galveston was a good fit for me.
After my second year there, I thought I would be drafted, but unfortunately, it just didn't work out. After that, I reverted to that "scared" mode. I wasn't sure whether I would ever be drafted.
I seriously considered going to the University of Nebraska to play, but then I got an opportunity to sign with the Braves and decided to take it rather than going through the uncertainty of going to college and trying to be drafted again.
It wasn't a huge contract. One of the Braves' bird-dog scouts, Bill Clark, saw me play and offered me a deal, but it didn't let me play until the following summer. It was hard to take because that was a lot of time to give up.
Looking back, had I known what the contract specifically entailed, I might not have gone through with it. I don't think I would advise my kid to do it. But, hey, it worked out in the end, so I can't really complain. I did get kind of lucky, though.
When you're a Canadian, getting seen by scouts often enough to be drafted can be difficult. You're at the mercy of whether the clubs' northern-based scouts make the time to travel to Canada to see you play. By attending school in the southern part of the United States, you increase your chances of being seen.
You also battle the perception that because you live in the North, you're rawer than other prospects. A lot of people don't realize that most of us play a full college schedule and then another 70 games in the summer.
Someone just needs to stick their neck out for us to get a chance. I know of a lot of great players up in Canada who just didn't get an opportunity because no one was willing to take a chance on them.
Pete Orr, a utility infielder for the Braves, completed his second season in 2006, hitting .253 in 102 games. Orr, who played for Team Canada in the 2006 World Baseball Classic, makes his offseason home in Newmarket, Ontario, Canada.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.