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Why I Started a Media Brand Dedicated to Underdog Stories

Tyler O'Shea shares his underdog story and why he started Joker Mag – a digital media brand for underdog stories
Tyler O'Shea

The coach slammed the door shut.

Every kid in the locker room rushed toward the piece of paper taped to the door.

I scanned the list up and down.  Down and up.

It took me ten times to process what was happening.

My name wasn’t there.  I got cut from the 7th grade baseball team.

Waves of shock, disappointment, and embarrassment washed over me.

As the other kids high-fived and congratulated each other, I slipped out the side door.

I still remember walking down the hallways, staring at the lockers wondering what just happened.

I pulled out my cell phone and called my dad to pick me up.

My dad still remembers pulling up to the front of the school to find me sitting by myself, with a distressed look on my face.

He still brings it up from time to time.

Why?  Because it was a pivotal moment in my life.

It would have been easy for me to give up on baseball for good that day.

The coach didn’t think I was good enough – even just to wear the team jersey and sit on the bench.

Tyler O'Shea stands at the plate with a yellow Easton bat wearing his 9th grade Springfield Cougar baseball uniform. He was a lot smaller than the other high school freshmen.
Me in 9th grade. If you can’t tell, I was a lot smaller than the other freshmen ballplayers.

But on that day, something clicked inside of me.

Instead of quitting, I promised myself I’d prove that coach wrong.  And everyone else who ever doubted me.

I started looking up to undersized athletes who defied the odds.

Guys like David Eckstein, Tim Lincecum, and Dustin Pedroia.

I read every story I could find, searching for inspiration and evidence that my dream was possible.

I quickly found out about all the adversity those guys faced to get where they are today.

Getting cut from the school team was just a small bump in the road.

I discovered that I could use this setback to my advantage.

Fast forward 10 years.

I finished my senior season at McDaniel College being named Honorable Mention on the All-Conference team.

The following summer, I was voted MVP of the Delco League – the nation’s oldest semi-professional baseball league.

I made it a whole lot further than anyone ever thought I would.

Tyler O'Shea and Nick Valori represented McDaniel College on the All-Conference team in 2017
Me and my friend Nick Valori represented McDaniel College on the All-Conference team in 2017.

In addition to my family – who supported me in every way possible – I credit a lot of that success to the stories of those players I looked up to.

The underdogs who beat the odds.

They carved out a path for me to follow and provided inspiration that kept me going.

So after college, I launched Joker Mag – a media brand dedicated to inspiring underdog stories in sports.

As more people started reading the website, I grew a small following on social media and built a loyal subscriber base on my Underdog Newsletter.

At the end of the day, my mission is simple:

To share underdog stories that give people the same feeling I felt when I was that undersized ballplayer searching for hope, inspiration, and evidence that my dream was possible.

Like my mom always told me, you can do anything you set your mind to.  Sometimes we just need a little extra push.

And that’s why I’m so passionate about sharing these stories with the world.

Written By

Division III baseball alum (McDaniel College) and founder of Joker Mag. Sharing underdog stories to inspire the next generation.

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