“I would code on the bus, on the plane, at the hotel, at home…pretty much anywhere except the field! The field was baseball time.”— Anthony Shew (@anthonyshew) on Threads
How did you go from Pro Baseball Player to Developer?
I’ve written a lot about this here! shew.dev/blog…
The TL;DR is:
- As a minor league baseball player, you make a maximum $12k a year. So I needed to make money.
- I needed to make money doing something I could 1) do from anywhere, 2) do on my own time, and 3) could hopefully be good at. 😁
- I started seeing a lot of “web development” while trolling job boards so thought I’d give it a try. Used FreeCodeCamp to get started and fell in love.
- Fast forward a few years, I’m running my own agency getting new business from word-of-mouth, turning away more work than I’m accepting. Still playing baseball. ⚾️
- Fast forward a few more years, I’m at Vercel!
How did your baseball playing days end and how did the transition to full-time developer go?
This was an interesting transition in my life that came along for a few reasons all at once:
- I got hurt. A batter hit a ball back at my face at 115 MPH and I caught it with my throwing elbow. I didn’t know it at the time but I’d never be able to throw the same again.
- After that, COVID hit and cancelled an entire season. So I ended up not playing for a full season and a half.
- Meanwhile, I was making more and more money with code. I could make a full year of baseball salary in one month with code.
So between all of a busted arm, not being in a competitive environment for almost two years, and making a bunch of money from my couch doing something I was becoming nearly addicted, it all sorta added up. 😁
I believe you were still playing baseball when you started doing freelance development work? What was it like landing that first gig? Was it in season? Did you code on the bus?
I was!Getting the first gig was hard but, looking back, I can say I did one smart thing: Focused on a niche. For me, it was obvious: baseball.
I’d started a proposal with: “I play professional baseball so thought it would be cool to work on your baseball e-shop…” or whatever the project was for.
I could talk about unique value I could bring that way and, well, it’s not exactly a hook you read every day! 😁
I would code on the bus, on the plane, at the hotel, at home…pretty much anywhere except the field! The field was baseball time.
What order did you learn different technologies along your developer journey?
If I remember right…
HTML -> CSS -> git -> JS -> React -> Redux > TypeScript > Next.js > Turborepo > Rust
A pretty “traditional” route! I used FreeCodeCamp all the way through React and then I pretty quickly knew I didn’t want to follow tutorials anymore. The creative part of my brain wanted to explore. 😁
What are the similarities between pro baseball and pro developer?
LOVE this question!
I have SO many thoughts on this. So many that I did a whole talk about it at React Miami! 😁
To quickly summarize, the mental game is HUGE both as a developer and a high-performance athlete.
If you want to get the most out of yourself in both fields, you can hone your mind in the same way you can build a muscle: Consistent practice.
Where did the “Full Stack Comedian” title come from?
I used to stream a bunch on Twitch and one day someone in my chat said “haha your a real funny full stack developer” and I said “yeah, I’m a real full-stack comedian, huh.”
I thought it was funny, chat thought it was funny, so I keep using it. 🙃
What more can you say about streaming on Twitch? Did you stream code? How long did you do that?
Yup, code! I did that for around a year, I think it was. It was so fun and I’d really love to get back to it.
The bulk of it was spent building my sideprojec scaling it from 0 to 100,000 visitors/month: kittr.gg
Code is at: github.com/kittr…
What advice would you have for someone thinking about following a similar path to yours?
Okay, so first learn how to throw a ball *really* hard… 😁
Just kidding, I’ll opt to take that to mean “getting into tech from a different field.”
The one unique thing I think I can bring to that conversation is to use your existing strengths. The subject matter of your job might change but you’re still you with a background of unique experiences and skills. Bring them with you to your new endeavors!
I love your answer but I actually meant, someone else living a dream of playing pro sports, but not yet to big money level. Picture yourself sitting on that bus, riding to the game, wondering how you are going to pay the bills and keep chasing your dream. What advice would you have for that person? Or maybe, would you do anything differently?
I’d say discipline over motivation. There are times when the task is daunting and you’re tired and it looks like you’ll never make it.
But none of that matters in sports. The only thing that matters is winning which means the only thing that matters is preparing, no matter how you feel that day.
How can people find you elsewhere online?
I’ve got all my links on my personal site! https://shew.dev
Looks like I’m missing Twitch which is twitch.tv/antho…
Oh, and my stream is twitch.tv/antho… if anyone would like to give it a follow!