“And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout; But there is no joy in Mudville-mighty Casey has struck out.”
Those lines have echoed through the decades, the final stanza of a poem published in the June 3, 1888, issue of the San Francisco Examiner. Its author, Ernest Thayer’s poem has taken a well-deserved place as an enduring icon of Americana. Christopher Bing’s magnificent version of this immortal ballad of the flailing 19th-century baseball star is rendered as though it had been newly discovered in a hundred-year-old scrapbook.
And what does this have to do with Amazing Journeys? Last week a bunch of baseball enthusiasts – aficionados, if you will – went on a road trip of their own, to visit some of the most iconic baseball venues in the history of the game. It was a smorgasboard of baseball; an endless horizon of becoming one with the diamonds of yesteryear as well as today. We met Dwight (Doc) Gooden of the Mets and Yankees….we ate peanuts and Cracker Jacks at Yankee Stadium…we swung (and hit very well) a few fastballs at the batting cages…we remembered the past in Cooperstown…and we became part of the past with a Fenway experience in Boston that words alone cannot describe.
Baseball teaches us so much about ourselves. It is a game of life; a game with so many metaphorically similar lessons to learn that it’s a wonder we all don’t fall in love with the game.
Just think about it.
A player is surrounded by teammates, coaches, fans as well as opposing players, and their advocates. A person in life is surrounded by siblings, parents, cousins, co-workers, acquaintances and friends, as well as those who compete against them for jobs, parking spots, short lines and other competitive routines of daily living. Like the pitcher who just gave up a grand slam and needs to be replaced, he still gets a pat on the tush from his coach and the support of his teammates. In life, our inner circle of family and friends – real friends – support us even when we fail. Together, the team and family learn about the joys of succeeding, the trials of failing, the challenges of improving and the results of their efforts.
Sometimes life throws you a curve ball – an illness, a bad evaluation at work, a car accident or perhaps Mother Nature reaps havoc. This is where life can be like the impossible baseball game; sometimes the game seems like it can’t be won, but miraculously it often can. In 2004 the perennial losers of baseball, the Boston Red Sox were about to embarrassingly bow out yet again to the mighty Yankees having lost the first 3 games of the best of 7 in the American League Championship Series. Down by one run in the bottom of the 9th in Game 4, and only moments before their curse would continue….history changed forever. The Sox tied it, went on to win the game in extra innings and then all the rest of the games in the series. They then went on to blow out the St. Louis Cardinals for their first World Series win in 86 years.
If not today, there’s another game tomorrow where you get to start all over again. Perseverance can pay off in big ways if one can get up, dust themself off and figure out a new way. Just like the player getting thrown out trying to steal 2nd base. He’ll get another chance. Skills such as determination, focus, ambition, patience, practice, sportsmanship, and respect enhance the meaning of the word “hope”. To sit at home and hope that the love of your life will knock on your door is futile. But by getting out and doing things, you put yourself in position (notice the baseball lingo here) to make a catch.
As they say “even the longest journey begins with just one step”. Think of career minor leaguer John Lindsey. He spent 16 years in the minor leagues before getting his break in September of 2010 when he was called up to play for the Los Angeles Dodgers; his first stint ever in the Majors. He played in 11 games that season and is now still a prospect with Major League credentials with the Detroit Tigers organization.
Hope springs eternal. One never knows what can happen….if they continue to hope.
Such as in life, a player will only succeed over a period of time if he wants to; if he truly desires to. As Babe Ruth once said – “You just can’t beat the person who never gives up.”