Travis Snider Joins ‘From Phenom To The Farm’: Episode 105


Image credit: Travis Snider (Photo by Brad White/Getty Images)

Travis Snider always hit. He hit during his standout career at Henry M. Jackson High School in Mill Creek, Wash., enough so that the Blue Jays made him the 14th pick in the 2006 draft. He hit that summer, batting .325 over 54 games in the Appalachian League. He hit over his next two seasons in the minors, both of which saw him end the year as Toronto’s No. 1 prospect, and he hit as a late-season callup with the Blue Jays at the end of the 2008 campaign at just 20 years old. 

Snider hit, until he didn’t. 

“For me, after the 2008 season, getting to the big leagues, having success in the month of September and then starting off really hot in April of 2009, my full rookie year—I thought the sky was the limit,” said Snider.

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Struggles during his first full season in the big leagues led to a demotion, which led to self-doubt, which led to over 10 years of an up-and-down career at the highest level of baseball for Snider. Snider had always been able to hit, but upon hitting a wall in between the lines for the first time in his life, he found that his emotional foundation to handle adversity wasn’t as prepared. 

“People ask, ‘Were you ready to play in the big leagues?’” said Snyder. “I think physically I was, but emotionally I was not ready for the struggle.”

Snider had been lauded for his makeup as an amateur, deemed wise beyond his years, but it was a maturity born out of adversity and necessity. While Snider’s parents were loving, both dealt with addiction, forcing him to take on emotional burden early in life. 

“I was really forced to grow up at a young age—which has its benefits, for being able to leave the house at 18 and go out and survive in the world,” said Snider. “At the same time, there’s certain parts of my childhood that I didn’t get to really experience (…) baseball was that safe space for me.”

The pressure to fulfill his promise dogged Snider for the duration of his career. Every time he struggled, he tried to swing his way out of it, literally. He spent hours upon hours in the cage—sometimes taking as many as 400 swings a day—looking for new mechanical changes, instead of sitting back and focusing on what he’d done in his past that led to success. 

“I took millions of swings in my career, so it wasn’t a matter of not working hard—it was a lot of times not working smart,” said Snider.

While his last big league run came with Baltimore in 2015, Snider spent years trying to hit his way back, through Triple-A stints with five organizations, plus a year with the Long Island Ducks in the Atlantic League. After the 2021 season and years of grinding, Snider retired, returned home to Washington with his family and tried to figure out who he was other than Travis Snider, the hitter. 

 “Going into my retirement, I was dealing with the identity crisis of being a baseball player my entire life,” said Snider. “Signing at 18, it was all I knew.”

He found his calling in the world of youth sports, an environment that he felt was spending too much time trying to develop athletes and not enough time trying to develop the people those athletes would grow up to be. He’s now the CEO of 3A Athletics, an organization looking to turn around toxic culture in youth sports and give young athletes the emotional foundation to succeed in whatever life brings them on and off the field. 

“We have a very large goal of impacting the world of youth sports, the culture of youth sports, by providing parents, coaches and players products and services to give them a better understanding of what they’re going through (and) how to deal with it mentally and emotionally,” said Snider. “That can lead to better performance on the field, but more importantly a healthier identity formation throughout this process of playing sports.”

On the latest episode of ‘From Phenom to the Farm,’ former big league outfielder Travis Snider discusses his rapid rise as a prospect, dealing with disappointment and frustration while trying to stick in the big leagues, MLB food culture and his thoughts on the word “bust.”

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