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Rockies’ Charlie Blackmon focuses on mental aspect of the game

In a continuing special Purple Row series, Charlie Blackmon talks about how growing up watching baseball shaped his game (hint: not much, other than learning how to snack).

San Diego Padres v Colorado Rockies Photo by Russell Lansford/Getty Images

When Colorado Rockies center fielder Charlie Blackmon was a kid, all he wanted was to be like his big league heroes—right down to the way he snacked during his games.

“I thought it was cool chewing sunflower seeds, and sometimes I pretended I could switch hit in wiffle ball,” Blackmon said. “I was pretty good right-handed for kids playing wiffle ball I guess.”

Growing up, the Dallas, Texas native who wound up in Suwanee, Ga., had an affinity for watching Atlanta Braves baseball and admired the players that came along with it.

“I was a big Braves fan growing up, so I watched Chipper Jones, Fred McGriff, John Smoltz, Greg Maddux. That was kind of my era,” Blackmon said. “I didn’t have one guy, I just liked watching the game. I didn’t have one guy that I really associated with.”

As far as trying to formulate his game after some of his favorite players growing up, like many players often do, Blackmon said he merely wished to be his own man.

“I didn’t go out of my way to try to turn my game into someone else’s,” Blackmon said. “I was never a big try-and-look-like-somebody-else guy.”

From day one of his major league career, which has now spanned six seasons, Blackmon said he has tried to focus more on the mental game to sharpen every aspect of his skills.

“I felt like the important thing was to learn what to think,” Blackmon said. “If you want to do a certain thing with your body, you’ve got to know how to consistently do that. Most of the time, they only way you can consistently do that is to know what you’re doing with your mind, whether you’re trying to be aggressive or remembering to keep your shoulder closed.”

So far, Blackmon’s preservation of self seems to be working well for him in the majors. In parts of six seasons with the Rockies, the 30-year-old owns an above league-average .298/.348/.467 batting line and recently took home his first Silver Slugger Award. Another season or two like his 2016 campaign—one in which he hit .324/.381/.552 with 29 homers—could line Blackmon up for a big pay day when he becomes a free agent after 2018.

He has the right mentality to reach his goal, whatever it may be.

“Whatever you’re doing physically, it’s based on what you’re thinking,” Blackmon explained. “Understanding that those two things are tied together was one of the most important things for me.”