The Premier Baseball Social Network for Players, Coaches, Scouts, and Umpires
The language of sports is universal. Experiences on the field have a lasting effect on who we become.
I have just come back from a reunion with the guys I write about in my book, Gods, Gloves, Pop-ups, and Ponies: a look at the character found playing youth baseball…and a run at the 1975 Pony League World Series. Some of these guys I have not seen since the last game of the Series 37 years ago. However, once we were in the room together with our 80 year old coach it was as if it was the day after the last game and we were there to talk about the next game we were to play. The memories flowed and it was fun to hear the guy’s perspective on events that I had been pondering and placing on paper for the last four years. The power of their perception and the similarity of our shared experience and what it meant to us was heartwarming and special. That is the power of sports; the power to unite and to enlarge the human condition by bringing people together in common purpose, and to grow in our understanding of ourselves through competition and companionship.
The day before after a long day of re-visiting old baseball fields and promoting my book I stopped in a Champs sports bar to have some dinner. At the bar was a lone gentleman in his forties who struck up a conversation with me after some rude behavior from some bar patrons. After shaking our heads about the unseemly behavior the conversation turned to my book and sports. He shared with me his state championship soccer season in Michigan and how the event had shaped him as a young man. He spoke of a coach who had pulled him aside when as a captain he had behaved in an un-captain-like way, and the coach had a long talk with him about conduct and leadership. The talk was a turning point for him and the team which proceeded to turn things around and eventually win the state title.
Talking with this man it struck me how universal the sports experience is. I have spoken with so many parents and people who have had a moment on the field, and it doesn’t have to be a championship, just a moment when some success was had or even when great disappointment occurred. Those powerful moments make us take notice of who we are, how we handled the event, and whether we will be better for it. Those moments of trial form the person we become, and those who have taken the greatest notice have become some of the finest people I know.