Meet Mitch Canham, Founder of BASE By Pros

Mitch rounding the bases after hitting a home run in the College World Series

For those of you who don't know much about Mitch Canham, we wanted to share with you why he is much more than a baseball player and how he has reached his milestones.

Mitch always dreamed of greatness and has worked extremely hard throughout his life in hopes of accomplishing his goals of playing professional baseball and winning a Major League Baseball World Series. It truly has not been an easy road for him and if anyone understands how to overcome obstacles it is Mitch.

Mitch, older brother John, younger brother Dustin and mother Kimi

Some of the struggles Mitch has endured include living in an unstable home, witnessing family and friends' misuse of drugs and alcohol, loss of family members, and multiple surgeries from athletic injuries. These experiences could have discouraged anyone but they only made Mitch stronger. He has used these circumstances as opportunities to grow as an individual and to help others through sharing his life story.

Mitch grew up in a loving, though uncertain and struggling home. Even though both parents deeply loved them, Mitch and his brothers felt torn and endured much emotional distress when their parents separated. Along with his father, Mark, and younger brother, Dustin, Mitch moved across Washington State at a young age. The boys lived apart from their mother, Kimi, and older half brother, John. They were always on the move and Mitch lived in about a dozen different homes before the age of thirteen. Mitch had a hard time making long term friends and feeling settled. Much of Dustin and Mitch's childhood was spent living out of a suitcase. Some nights they didn't know where they would be sleeping or if there would even be a bed to sleep in. It may have been unstable at times but their parents always provided a roof over their head and food to eat. That taught Mitch that material things aren't important as long as he had family beside him. He experienced firsthand the struggles of a separated family in the form of lacking finances, feelings of insecurity, decreased time with loved ones, and not being able to be a kid without worries. Even though Mitch's family was separated most of his life, each member gave him tremendous love and support and guided him to being the man he is today.

Mitch and his dad, Mark

Mitch was determined to remember his past and the family he came from, and refused to let his struggles prevent him from succeeding in life. In high school he was on the honor roll and graduated top 5 of his class all while taking advanced placement courses. Mitch was also involved in a leadership class, starred in the school assemblies, was a leading member of the school student body, and volunteered at the local elementary school. He worked hard to achieve varsity letters in baseball, wrestling, and football, and competed in the state tournament for each sport. In addition to being busy with academics and athletics, Mitch found time to work several jobs during his senior year. His high school coaches and teachers pushed Mitch in the right direction, teaching him to never do any task halfway, but to reach all the way to his dreams no matter how big they might seem. Mitch quickly learned that it is important to surround oneself with positive, supportive, and inspiring individuals like his family, close friends, coaches, and teachers.

Oregon State Beavers win the National Championship!

Once college came, Mitch hit the ground running on and off the field. While at Oregon State University, Mitch held a part time job to help pay tuition, acted as a volunteer tutor to fellow athletes, was a member of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, built homes with Habitat for Humanity, and raised money for the local Special Olympics through fundraising concerts. Mitch earned Academic All-American awards for his 3.5 GPA and graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Management.

During his collegiate baseball career, Mitch reached for the stars in competition. The Oregon State coaches moved him from the outfield to the catcher position, and Mitch was able to quickly adapt. After putting in many long hours learning the new position, he soon became a leader of the team and encouraged his teammates to set their goals toward winning a national championship. Of the three full seasons Mitch played at Oregon State, the Beavers went to the College World Series every year. Having an amazing coaching staff, talented teammates, and Mitch's leadership role, dedication, and competitive nature, helped make the Beavers two-time National Champions.

While life has blessed Mitch with many exciting avenues, he has had to overcome losing his mother to a drug overdose during his first days of college, and his younger brother to a military incident at the start of his professional career. Losing a family member is extremely difficult, but through time and strong relationships with God and others in Mitch's life, he was able to press forward toward his goals and remember the positive things his mother and brother taught him in life.

Mitch's best friend Ryan MacBriar and his brother Dustin playing paintball

After losing his younger brother, Mitch and his father established The Dustin Lee Canham Memorial Fund. This is awarded annually to High School students who prove to be kind, giving, and intelligent like Dustin Canham. Dustin was the type of man all people should strive to be and was a huge influence on Mitch and the way he lives his life now. Mitch wants to do just as his brother did and "give back to others."

Shaking hands with the greatest boxer of all time, Muhammad Ali

The San Diego Padres drafted Mitch in the 2007 Supplemental First Round of the Major League Draft. So far in his professional career Mitch has played for the San Diego Padres, Oakland Athletics, Colorado Rockies, St. Louis Cardinals, Kansas City Royals, and Washington Nationals organizations. The minor leagues haven't been easy, physically or mentally. The season can be very hard on the body; 12-hour bus rides from field to field and playing every day for 140 games in the 105-degree heat is exhausting. Throughout Mitch's collegiate and professional careers he endured multiple surgeries from athletic injuries. Each time he went through another surgery it was another time that he could have thrown in the towel. But Mitch is so determined and dedicated that he knew he just had to be patient and do his best to recover from each surgery. He learned that he had to trust in God, that His will would be done in Mitch's life. Mitch never gave up and just worked harder to be better than he was before his injury.

Mitch has met many talented and influential individuals over the past several years playing professional baseball across the country, and continues to learn more from each player and coach he meets. Throughout his time in the minor leagues Mitch has understood that you have to work hard and earn your place on a team. Professional baseball is more challenging because you have to be responsible for yourself. The competition is higher, not only between teams but within your own team too, and Mitch has been constantly competing for his position on the team. Being a professional player in the minor leagues, you are always being watched and compared to others by players, coaches, scouts, and even fans. Mitch has seen the highs and the lows of playing in the minor leagues; he has fought for and earned positions at the Double-A and Triple-A levels, but was also released several times in his career. It is deeply rooted in Mitch's soul to never give up, no matter how many obstacles are put in his path, and he continues working every day toward his dream of winning a Major League World Series Championship.

Mitch and his wife Marlis

There is another huge part of Mitch, and that is his better half, so to speak. Since Mitch was a senior in high school he has had an amazing woman by his side. His wife, Marlis, has been in his corner through all the highs and lows. It has been said that behind every good man is a great woman, and this is more than true. Mitch likes to say, "I knew she was the one because she loved me when I was on top of the world, but showed me she loved me even more when I made mistakes and hit rock bottom." Marlis is a God loving, intelligent, kind hearted, and honest woman who is an important part of why Mitch is who he is today. Once again, we must really focus on the people we associate ourselves with, especially the person we want to spend the rest of our life with. Building strong positive relationships makes us stronger as individuals.

Motivational speaking event with White Center P.A.L. Boxing Club in West Seattle

Mitch Canham has already accomplished amazing feats in his life that would complete any young baseball player's dream, but that is still not good enough for him. He wakes up ready to better himself everyday. Taking a day off is never acceptable and instead each day is filled with practice, weightlifting, conditioning, uplifting others, and working on his latest projects. He believes he owes it to God, his wife, mother, brothers, father, mentors, coaches, friends, fans, and himself to remember where he came from and make the most out of every day. Mitch is dedicated and determined to attain his goals of winning a MLB World Series, being inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame, having a lifelong loving Christian family, and changing the lives of others with every chance he gets.

Mitch's unsettled childhood, the loss of his mother and brother, and the struggles throughout his career, made him desire to be a source of support and encouragement to others by sharing his experiences. That's why Mitch has also become a motivational speaker. He tells his life story and shares the lessons he has learned to middle schools, high schools, community groups, and athletic teams. It is very important to Mitch to provide opportunities that he didn't have growing up to others like him. He believes that through the development of BASE By Pros he can help kids build character, respect, and work ethics by learning the game of baseball, but also by being a source of support for kids who may have encountered the struggles Mitch went through growing up.

It is clear that Mitch has never had anything given to him easily; instead he has worked hard to earn every award, championship, and accomplishment in his life. It is important to Mitch that no matter how great his success, he will not change from being who he truly is: caring, down to earth, and humble. Always remember the road traveled because that is where we learn about ourselves and how we continue to grow. No challenge should be feared, but rather tackled with your head held high, using the knowledge and values you have learned, and following your heart. After all, it takes a little more to be a champion.