Rocky Ray Graves was born in Hot Springs, Arkansas to a baseball family – his father named him after Rocky Colavito, an outfielder for the Cleveland Indians. Rocky Graves knew from the age of 6 that he wanted to be a baseball player.
He went through college on a baseball scholarship, and although one winter he was invited to the California Angels rookie camp, he decided to finish college rather than go pro.
“I just didn’t think I had what it takes to be a Major League baseball player,” he says.
After college, Rocky started his business career, but baseball was never far away. In fact, most of his business connections came through baseball. He started a franchise of a national staffing company with a friend from an adult baseball league team. He sold that business and started a baseball academy in Central Florida. A few years ago, he sold the academy and went back into staffing, joining the business of a man with who he’d coached Little League ball 20 years earlier.
Rocky and his wife have two sons who play baseball but aren’t named after ballplayers. Nothing is more important, he says, than the responsibility of coaching.
“When you’re a coach, those kids look up to you,” Rocky explains. “They may not listen to everything you say, but the watch everything you do – how you talk to the umpires, to their parents, to the other kids. The experience that a kid gets as part of team, and the things he learns from a coach, are far more important than the game itself.”