Sometimes he’ll let his mind wander to the unanswerable “what if?” questions.
What if he had stuck with baseball?
What if he had made it to the major leagues?
“Then I come back to reality,” the former left-handed pitcher said. “This is probably what I should be doing. This is best for me.”
Dan April doesn’t play baseball anymore, and he’s OK with that. Instead of toeing the rubber this summer, he was providing medical care in earthquake-ravaged Nepal.
April graduated from Fort Collins High School in 2005 before pitching four years at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia.
He was selected in the 39th round of the 2009 MLB draft by Tampa Bay and reported to the Hudson Valley Renegades, a Single-A short season affiliate of the Rays.
The baseball record books show April made one professional appearance, getting four outs, allowing one hit and no runs, and striking out one batter.
It wasn’t long into his time with the team in Fishkill, New York that he decided to quit baseball.
“It just turned out that it wasn’t for me. I didn’t have the patience to sit around and try my best, knowing sometimes it can take years to make (the MLB),” April said. “Then you’re in your early 30s and don’t have any work experience.”
April was a 4.0 student at Mercer, graduating with a degree in economics and finance, but with the economic collapse he knew anything in finance wouldn’t work for him.
He spent some time traveling, trying to figure out his best path.
“I was maybe a bit disillusioned and was like, ‘Maybe I shouldn’t have quite baseball. I don’t know what else to do,’” April recalled in a phone conversation earlier this month. “I asked myself, ‘What do you think would be something valuable to do for the rest of your life?’”
The answer was medicine, so he started on the path to become a doctor.
He’ll graduate from Tulane Medical School in May, likely to pursue a job in interventional radiology.
In late June and early July, April was in Nepal with the Bicol Clinic Foundation, an organization that helps provide medical care in underprivileged areas.
April had previously traveled with the foundation to run clinics in the Philippines. The Nepal trip was planned well before the deadly earthquakes in April.
Over the course of a few weeks, April became enchanted with the area and people he met, making close friends with translators working with the group.
He heard stories about the immediate aftermath of the devastation caused by the earthquakes and worked in areas directly impacted.
“You’re in a place where you know a lot of these people haven’t had much opportunity for any kind of health care in a long time,” said April, who hopes to go back to Nepal in the next year. “It opens up your eyes and makes you realize the things you take for granted. You want to open up your heart to people and you always want to do more.”
He’s now back in New Orleans, working a radiology rotation. He’ll catch himself thinking about his baseball past when he watches a game or sees former Mercer teammates in the big leagues.
He admits he doesn’t know how to answer the hypothetical situation: “What if I said you could have gone all the way? Would you do that or do what you’re currently doing?”
Still, you can hear the pride in his voice when he talks about being one of the rare baseball players to even reach the pro level.
At 6-foot-1, he was never the biggest or strongest. But he always made it a goal to outwork everyone else, and that’s what he’s most proud of.
And he’s perfectly happy with where he’s at now.
“When really think hard about it, I’m glad that I’m doing what I’m doing and I don’t regret it,” April said. “Even though (med school) is a lot of hard work, it opens up a lot of opportunities that otherwise you just can’t do.”
Follow sports reporter Kevin Lytle at twitter.com/Kevin_Lytle and at facebook.com/KevinSLytle.