Robb Paller hasn’t looked at baseball the same way since a broken leg cost him his entire sophomore season at Columbia University.
An ill-fated slide into home during practice took away the game he loves for the first time in his life. The four months the former Berkeley Carroll star spent on crutches put it in perspective for him.
“To be honest, I missed hitting more than walking during that stretch,” Paller said.
But that experience just made what the Lions right fielder and his team accomplished this past season all the sweeter. Columbia won its third-straight Ivy League title, reached the final of the NCAA Coral Gables Regional against national power Miami, and posted a program-best 34–17 record.
Paller finished the year with a 36-game streak of reaching base. He earned a chance to playing in the prestigious Cape Cod League with the Bourne Braves, and is currently with the Green Bay Bullfrogs in the Northwoods League
“Breaking my leg, I realized it could all be gone in one second three years ago,” Paller said. “I try to enjoy it. I think I play better that way.”
His streak happened organically, and only became a big deal once it hit 30. That’s when Columbia began tweeting about it. Paller never let it affect his approach at the plate. All he cared about was doing what he had to for the win.
“The best way for me to help my team win the game is to get on base, and there you go,” Paller said. “I got a streak. I’m not going into the game thinking ‘I hope I don’t snap the streak.’ ”
Paller hit .264 of the season, drove in 23 runs, and scored 23, all while posting and on-base percentage of .392 thanks to a team-leading 32 walks. While Paller doesn’t make a big deal about the streak itself, he know it reflects well on how he approaches each at bat.
“I think it just means I don’t take pitched off,” he said. “I don’t give away at bats no matter what the score is.”
Arguably the best game of Paller’s season came in an elimination game against Florida International. He went two-for-three with three runs batted in to lead the Lions to a 4–3 victory and a spot in the regional final. Columbia had its season ended by Miami, but Paller enjoyed his time in the pitching-rich Cape Cod League.
“It’s the best league in the country,” he said. “It’s a dream as a college player to play in Cape Cod.”
Each step and accomplishment is a blessing after breaking his leg and seeing what life is like without baseball.
“I’m trying to not take it for granted, and enjoy playing on a huge stage like that,” Paller said. “It doesn’t get better than that.”