Baseball gives every American boy a chance to excel, not just to be as good as someone else but to be better than someone else. This is the nature of man and the name of the game.”- Ted Williams
It was a moment of reflection… when Heroes Sports gave me the opportunity to get back on that mound I saw a timeline of my life… from the moment baseball was taken from me for being academically ineligible (no one’s fault but my own) to enlisting in the military and eventually to my life now.
I started playing baseball when I was 4 years old. I had no choice. My father made sure I was playing year round to keep me out of trouble and away from gangs and street kid mischief. He didn’t care if I was the best or the worst. He only cared that I gave 100% at all times.
It wasn’t until years later, standing on that foundation of grit and character, that I finally discovered a true love for the game and elevated myself to a level of success. But reaching that level would have never been possible without those early years of forced participation by the old man. Though I didn’t understand it at the time; it remains to this day one of his greatest gifts to me.
For me, baseball is life. For most, baseball is considered boring or monotonous, but to someone like me, it’s something much more. “Baseball” the sport is just a sport. I got it. But I see baseball as a whole, very similar to the grind of life. It’s a game of failure, a game of negativity. It’s a problem to be solved, it’s something to be overcome… just like life itself.
I had to fight all my life to survive. They were all against me… but I beat the bastards and left them in the ditch.”- Ted Williams
Hitting a baseball is considered by some to be the most difficult thing to do in all sports. Hitting a round ball with a round bat and trying to hit it square… it’s a wicked problem. Sound familiar? Life is nothing but trying to hit one out of the park no matter what field it’s pertaining to… relationships… fitness… kids…. transitioning out of the military… it’s all a difficult game. It’s just difficult no matter how you cut it. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
Every strike brings me close to the next home run.” – Babe Ruth
It is said that baseball is a game of failure, because even the great hitters are only successful 30% of the time. The best pitcher might throw one no-hitter in his entire career.
And even the most proficient fielder is at the mercy of the batter, and whether or not he ever gets the chance to make a play. Typically a score of 30% on any test is well below failure. If I was faithful too my significant other 30% of the time, I wouldn’t be in a relationship. If I only paid 30% of my bills, I would be filing for bankruptcy. But nevertheless, life is a game of failure.
We have so many things holding us down…stress, collapsing relationships, impossible dreams and unattainable goals. But like all sports and most of life, it is a game of preparation meeting opportunity.
You have to shake off those unsuccessful moments and keep walking back up to the plate for another chance to hit the ball out of the park. Because the only truth is nobody hits a home run while crying in the dugout. I was a terrible baseball player when I started. But at some point I fell in love with the game. I didn’t need anyone to push me anymore. I pushed myself. Every day I was outside swinging the bat and soon seeing the results on the field.
The way those clubs shift against Ted Williams, I can’t understand how he can be so stupid not to accept the challenge to him and hit to left field.”- Ty Cobb
Life seems to have mirrored this same trajectory. When I was young, I had no idea what I was doing, but the harder I worked, and the more of myself I give to any task, the greater the outcome. This is the secret of baseball, and the secret of life. The trick is falling in love with your own life, and making it a game you can win, despite the inevitable failures.
See in life we take swings… chances… and we miss a lot. We miss often, but when we hit the ball, we hit it big. In a world where success is minimal, we live with the mindset knowing that anything is possible.
One of the beautiful things about baseball is that every once in a while you come into a situation where you want to, and where you have to, reach down and prove something.” – Bob Feller
One of the best things we can do for veterans is to help them find their identity after service, their “space” in the world. We need to help them become “highly functional” and not fall into the “entitled victim” mindset.
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