COMSTOCK PARK, MI - Ross Kivett only thinks about the 'what if?' in late spring when he happens across a television set tuned to the hunt for Lord Stanley's Cup.
It's only then that the West Michigan Whitecaps outfielder briefly wonders what taking the road less traveled would have been like. Instead of continuing a promising hockey caeer, Kivett threw himself into baseball in his early teens. While the native of Broadview Heights, Ohio, is still a big hockey fan - particularly during playoff time - the decision to turn to baseball has worked out well.
"I learned to walk, then I learned how to skate about four years old," Kivet said."I loved hockey. Sometimes I watch a game and I go, 'man, I could still do the job.'"
Kivett, 23, nearly stuck with hockey. He played against Michigan's top amateur teams then tried out for the Brockville, Ontario, Junior team. His dad, who picked Ross up from hockey practice every night, didn't particularly want him as far away as Canada, but Kivett had led his St. Edward (Lakewood, OH) High School team to a state title, had played well against the Michigan clubs and his future seemed to be on the ice and not a diamond.
But things changed on the trip back from the Brockville tryout camp. Kivett had only been playing baseball since he was 12, but after what Kivett and his father thought was only an ordinary result at the camp, they talked more about baseball on the way home.
"We kind of broke it down," he said.
Kivett also thought back to a comment made by his youth baseball coaches which he took as a compliment.
"The first thing they said was I played baseball like a hockey player," he said. "Kind of high-energy octane."
Kivett eventually landed at Kansas State, where he hit .314 and .286 his first two years before blossoming as a junior. He batted .360 and .333 his junior and senior seasons, combining for 28 doubles, seven homers and 72 RBIs.The Tigers took him in the sixth round of the 2014 draft and he hit a promising .289 with 10 doubles and 26 RBIs in only 47 games at Connecticut.\
Kivett has continued his promise with the Whitecaps, where he was 16th in the Midwest League in batting (.298) and third in doubles (23) through July 14.
Kivett said other than a fleeting look back when he sees a hockey playoff game, he's 100 percent committed to baseball. No second thoughts, no wondering what could have been.
"It just feels right when I get a couple hits or make a play," he said. "That's what you have to think as a baseball player."
If baseball doesn't work, he - tongue-in-cheek - has a second vocation to fall back on. Kivett works at his cousin's pizza business. Depending on tips, Kivett said he can make up to $500 a week.
"I get to hang out with my cousin, I can use the extra money and I thought it would be something different," Kivett said."Sometimes I feel like I need to get away from baseball and do something different."
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.