The Orioles right-hander is visiting Taiwan along with a team of Major League All-Stars who are playing in the five-game 2011 Taiwan All-Star Series, and he took time out of the players' busy schedule on Friday morning to tell students that his respect for learning and achieving made everything worth the wait.
Guthrie and his wife, Jenny, were guests of the Morrison Academy in Taichung City, an American K-12 institution where the mascot is the Mustangs. Guthrie spoke to a packed auditorium of fun-loving high school kids who listened attentively as he spoke of his career path, his goals, his desires and his outlook on how it can all work to one's advantage.
"Having a goal is the most important thing -- what you want to do, what you want to accomplish," Guthrie said. "And once you have that goal, you need to be strong enough to know that anything that takes you away from that goal, you need to turn it down.
"You need to overcome the obstacle that someone might put in your way. That stops you from wanting to be whatever it is that you want to be."
Sure, Guthrie wanted to be a Major League star, especially after a dominant high school career in Ashland, Ore., where he reached the high 90s with his fastball, but he also wanted to go to college. So when then-New York general manager Steve Phillips met with him, Guthrie explained, the talk might not have gone exactly how the Mets envisioned.
"He said, 'If I gave you a million dollars, would you sign a contract right now?' I remember feeling my heart kind of sink a little bit, because this was a very serious conversation -- very serious for my life, very serious for them, offering me all that money," Guthrie told the students.
"And I thought about it. I thought about all the goals I had and all the hard work that I had put in, and I realized at that point in time, baseball was not the most important thing to me."
One more offer from the Pirates later and after college, Guthrie signed for $4 million after being selected in the first round of the 2002 First-Year Player Draft by the Indians.
He has dreams for after baseball, too -- in the shoe business.
Guthrie collects shoes, more than 400 pairs, and he is fascinated with their design and marketing.
"It's still what I love," he said. "So when I'm done playing baseball, my goal is to work for Nike. And I know that I can do it because I've met lots of people and I've prepared a way now, playing baseball, that will allow me to work for Nike when my career with baseball is over."
Guthrie conducted a Q&A session with the students before departing, and he said that, as in the U.S., delivering uplifting messages is as rewarding to him as he hopes receiving them is for the students.
"They seemed to have a great excitement about them about education and having me here to speak to them," he said.
"So I'm grateful for the opportunity."