Ronnie Dawson of the Kiwoom Heroes speaks during an interview at baseball stadium in Songpa District, Seoul, May 14. Yonhap

Having just turned 29 and still in his prime years as an athlete, Kiwoom Heroes outfielder Ronnie Dawson is trying his best to stay in the moment while not letting himself look too far down the road.Dawson used to stress himself out worrying about the future, but he has since learned how to “take everything as it is, one step at a time.”The new mindset comes from the comforting knowledge that, if nothing else, he will have his family after his baseball career is over — whether here in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) or back in his native United States.”I have no clue what’s going to happen after baseball, but I know I’m going to be a dad,” Dawson said in an interview with Yonhap News Agency on Tuesday, before his Heroes hosted the NC Dinos at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul. “I want to be with my family. I want to be with my son. I’m going to be a fun dad.”Dawson is the proud father of Remington, who was born in 2022 and is not old enough to know what his dad is doing for a living. But Remington apparently took a keen interest in the Heroes’ game Sunday when his dad hit a home run to celebrate his 29th birthday.Dawson said he had homered on his birthdays before in his career, but to do it in front of his wife and son made Sunday extra special.”My wife was just telling me how he was into the game,” Dawson said of Remington, beaming. “You know, being a baseball player is cool, but that’s only for a short amount of time in my life. Being a father … I want to be a father the rest of my life. So for me, that’s the most important.”

Although Dawson said he hasn’t put much thought into his future in baseball, he does know one thing: He wants to play until Remington grows old enough to understand his dad is a ball player.”That’s the goal. I want him to be able to start dissecting my swing and start talking, ‘Dad, why did you do this?'” Dawson said. “That would be cool. I hope I can do that. But even if, god forbid, this is my last year, I would be OK because I know I have my son, my family, have people that love me, and that’s the most important thing for me.”When Dawson is not smiling talking about his family, he is smiling on the field playing the game he loves. Since joining the Heroes in the middle of last season, Dawson has come to be known as a fun-loving player who never seems to have a bad day. Whether it’s cheering on his teammates from the dugout or putting on dance moves in the outfield in front of fans, Dawson wants people to know he’s having a swell time.The relentlessly positive player said he wasn’t always this way. By meditating, reading books about not overthinking and trying to live in the moment, Dawson has been working hard on the mental side of baseball.”This game is hard, man. This game is stressful. I had a lot of adversity, I would say, earlier in my career and the mental part was hard for me,” said Dawson, who was selected out of Ohio State University by the Houston Astros in the second round of the 2016 Major League Baseball draft. He only logged four games in the majors and spent most of his time in the minors before coming to the KBO last summer.

“As I got older and played the game longer, I realized my mental (game) has to be the strongest,” Dawson continued. “Physically, I do have a routine. I trust that I work hard. But for me, staying strong mentally helps me be able to have my personality show on the field.”Dawson thanked the Heroes for allowing him to be himself, noting it wasn’t always the case with some other teams he’d played for in the U.S.”Honestly, the fans and coaching staff here, they let me have my personality,” he said. “I’m just happy that the fans enjoy it, and the coaches let me be myself, and that also helps me.”Of course, Dawson knows his boundaries.”If you’re losing by a lot, you can’t be having too much fun,” he said. “There’s been times people got mad at me for having too much fun. There’s a time and a place for everything, but I also know I’ve got to be myself. It helps me play my best when I can be myself. That’s why I love this coaching staff on this team. They let me be myself on a good or a bad day.”And it’d be easy for anyone to have fun with the kind of numbers Dawson has put up this season.Through Wednesday’s action, he is third in the league with a .361 batting average and tied for second with 15 doubles. An on-base plus slugging (OPS) of .983 puts him in fifth place.Last year, he had three home runs in 57 games, and he has already more than doubled that total with seven in 47 games. His OPS has jumped by 131 points, and his strikeout rate has fallen from 15.7 percent to 14 percent.Dawson said the key this year has been his ability to drive the ball better.

“My average was good, but I wasn’t driving the ball as I thought I could,” he said. “And I’m doing that this year, and I am still hitting with my average. Homers, they’re going to come. I kind of hit homers on accident. I want to hit the ball in the gap, and that’s been my style. When I hit homers, I feel like that’s lucky.”Dawson said he wasn’t sure if his positivity has necessarily rubbed off on his teammates — “I don’t think anyone’s going to end up being the next Ronnie Dawson,” he said with a smile — but added it’s important for him to build relationships with them in whatever ways he can.”My personality is different than a lot of guys here, but I enjoy my teammates,” he said. “We have great conversations. They’re teaching me Korean, and I teach them English. I’m a relationship guy. So to be able to have a good relationship with my teammates helps me just enjoy the country a little bit better.”Dawson said he didn’t think he would enjoy traveling around South Korea so much when he first signed here. He now tries to see as much of road cities as his playing schedule allows him to.”Last year, I experienced Korea, but I want to see more of Korea … see different landmarks in different cities,” he said. “I’m more than just a baseball player. I am also a human being. I like to see new things and learn new things. I’m always 안전 learning.”

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