Ryan Bollinger made a blatant statement when he was signed by the Chicago White Sox as an undrafted free agent.
Bollinger, who was fresh from the independent leagues and a recent release from the Philadelphia Phillies organization after being selected in the 47th round of the 2009 draft, was told by the White Sox he wouldn't be high on the priority list.
That's when Ryan looked at his father Todd, who attended the tryout with him, and boisterously stated "Wanna bet?"
Former Minot High standout Ryan Bollinger delivers a pitch against the Greeneville Astros. Bollinger was assigned to the Bristol White Sox Appalachian League, a rookie ball league this season, and affiliate of the Chicago White Sox organization. Bollinger tossed five hitless innings against Greeneville on June 24.
Ryan remembers the day he was released by the Phillies just as vividly as the day he was drafted by them with the 1,427th pick in 2009.
"They called me into the office, and told me they didn't have any room for me, but they would do whatever they could to get me on another team."
Moments like that might force many players to think of another line of work.
"It was a stressful time," said his mother Laurie Bollinger. "It was stressful listening to the things he went through in spring training."
The former Minot High and Minot Vistas standout, Ryan used the situation as a catalyst to move forward, and move back into affiliated baseball.
"That moment (when he was released) was huge," said his father Todd Bollinger. "He knows how fast baseball can go away. In the blink of an eye, it's gone. He knows he has to work twice as hard as everybody else."
Ryan didn't let the moment deter him. Instead, Bollinger, who originally was assigned to the Gulf Coast Phillies, took his talents to Chicago to play for the Windy City Thunderbolts in the independent Frontier League, which is unaffiliated with Major League Baseball.
Ryan, now age 20, received an opportunity in the Frontier League the Phillies organization didn't offer. Rather than play first base, Ryan got a chance to go back to the position he is most comfortable with - pitcher.
"I learned a lot in the Frontier League. It taught me to keep the ball down," Ryan said. "It taught me to be a pitcher, not just a thrower."
Ryan, who now carries a multitude of experience from playing in the Frontier and Gulf Coast League, said the difference was night and day. Even though the Gulf Coast rookie league was affiliated ball, there were no fans to speak of.
"(The Gulf Coast League) was probably the most boring experience I ever had in baseball," Ryan said. "You went to games, played in front of no fans, and tried to muster up enough strength to play baseball. In the Frontier League, you are playing in front of two to three thousand, and it was awesome. I can't say enough about playing in the Frontier League. It was a blast."
In the Frontier League, Ryan experienced being a witness to his first bench-clearing brawl, which he said was literally "over nothing." He was also a part of winning a division championship.
After Ryan's experience in the Frontier League, he traveled back to Minneapolis. As soon as he completed the nine-hour trip, he was called back to Chicago for a tryout with the White Sox.
"We arrived down there, and were met in one of the parking lots by one of their minor league development guys," Todd Bollinger said. "(White Sox pitching coach) Don Cooper showed up, and spent 45 minutes with him throwing in the bullpen. They have been interested in him since he was a sophomore. We talked to them and about a week later the contract was in the mail."
The White Sox also gave Ryan something the Phillies didn't offer him. Instead of playing first base like he did in the Phillies organization, the left-hander was placed in his comfortable, and natural, position as a pitcher. He was assigned this season to the Appalachian League to play for the Bristol White Sox in Bristol, Va.
In Bristol, Ryan has a 1-0 record, with a 6.00 ERA, and 11 strikeouts in nine innings of work.
"It's nice to have that motivation. Knowing I can go out there and have a good game, maybe some people will think 'oh I shoulda been drafted higher,'" Ryan said. "I still like to face guys that were drafted in the top 10 rounds. That really motivates me."
Ryan has embraced his second chance of living his childhood dream of playing Major League Baseball. The lefty is one step closer with the White Sox, even though he still has a long way to go.