Mariners ball shagger shares life lessons beyond the diamond

SEATTLE -- Every Spring, baseball takes over Arizona.

"We're going to be here about five weeks and then it's like the circus left town," says Ed Sproull, a long-time baseball fan who enjoys Mariners Spring Training every year.

Fans flock to the desert, eager for an autograph, a photo and a taste of the big leagues.

"Seeing it this close up really gave me a different appreciation for the amount of work that they have to do," says Sproull.

Thanks to a 'Ball Shaggers' program the Mariners implemented in 2016, some lucky fans actually find themselves on the field with their favorite players.

"We come out here and shag fly balls. Their job is to get ready for the regular season and our job is to make sure they don't have to do a bunch of dumb things like run around and pick up baseballs."

Ed Sproull has been apart of the program since it's inception.

"I've been a die-hard baseball fan since I was a kid," says Sproull, " I met my wife Linda and she was a Mariners fan and as she would tell it, is 'I made him convert!'"

Now retired and living in Arizona, nothing gets in the way of Ed and his team.

"I don't even think about that," says Sproull when referring to his leg. "The leg has never been a real big issue."

Ed lost his leg in 1981.

"A drunk driver. I quit drinking after that though," explains Sproull.

He was the drunk driver.

When you see Ed, you'd never guess the story he's lived to tell.

"I've drug addict, gang member and ended up in prison," says Sproull, "that jerked my chain like a dog on a leash. That turned me around."

Ed's life changed during that period.

"You've got to figure out like, hey you're better than that and you can move on cause things are going to happen. Sometimes you're at fault for it, sometimes you're not but it's never really as bad as it seems. I made a decision that I wasn't going back the way I'd came. It was a dead-end street. If I probably not been arrested I'd probably be dead by now. That's what I wanted to share with the players."

Ed recounted the hardships and lessons learned with the team five years ago. It's a story he hopes many can take something from.

"My experiences maybe didn't apply to them but then I started to think it really does. What was the major thing I could tell these guys? And it was simply, keep your head up," says Sproulls, "If you get down on yourself you're done. If you don't think you can you're right, you've always got to stay positive and you've got to look for 'What can I do to make myself better today?"

For the players, it's batting practice and perfecting their gifts. For Ed, it's doing his part for a game that never abandoned him.

"Oh sure I feel apart of it. Maybe just the one pitcher that pitches another ten innings because he wasn't worn out in September and I'll never know. There's no way to say what you did or didn't do but you know that you did as much as you can and I know they appreciate it, oh my gosh  I know they appreciate it."