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Baseball And Failure

What’s more American than baseball, hot dogs and apple pie? Baseball is considered America’s past time. Not everyone loves baseball but bear with me. Many consider hitting a round ball with a round bat the most difficult of all athletic things, especially when it is tossed at the batter at speeds over 90 mph. That is why failure is so high in baseball. Which brings me to failure. Nobody likes to fail but you better learn to accept it if you choose to play this sport. 
I grew up playing baseball. Not only little league but most days kids would ride their bikes to the park and we would play for hours. That doesn’t happen today as everything is structured. My oldest son played and now my ten year old does as well. In fact, Evan loves it and I love the teachable moments this game provides. Evan is very competitive and baseball has challenged him. Last year was a struggle as his team won only two games all year which made for a long summer. But it taught him some good lessons about teamwork and sportsmanship. This year he has seen better success on the field with many more wins.  
One thing I truly believe about sports is that you have to learn how to fail before you can learn how to succeed. Earlier this summer, Evan found himself up to bat in the last inning with the bases loaded and the game on the line. He struck out and the game was over. He cried and was distraught thinking he lost the game. It was tough to see, but what a great teachable moment for me as a parent. Sometimes I seek these situations out as a father with limited time, and sometimes life presents them to you.
So, it was time for the failure talk. Not only about baseball but about life as well. I explained to him about how the best baseball players fail 70 percent of the time. I also reviewed all of the opportunities the whole game presented for the team. Baseball is won and lost as a team, not by a single player. Two weeks later, he was in the same situation. This time he hit a triple to tie the game and stole home to score the winning run. To his credit, he was happy with his success but said it was a great team win. 
Competition builds discipline, character and teamwork, which are building blocks for the future. Failure is one of those building blocks, too. If you talk to any successful person whether in sports or business or life, they will always have a story about the failures they endured that preceded their success. That’s why I love baseball, especially for youth. If they can handle a 70% failure rate and realize success, it should be a good building block for future endeavors during their lifetime. 
 
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6 responses to “Baseball And Failure

  1. Some great thoughts on life- as usual. Thanks Jim!

  2. Ken Sussex ⋅

    Great post Jim…read this article the other day and thought you might enjoy…http://www.freep.com/article/20140629/COL01/306290088/augie-nieto-als-mitch-albom

  3. alicew627@gmail.com ⋅

    Definitely posting this to my timeline … such valuable lessons you’ve pointed out … seems I have many grandchildren who will benefit from your words of wisdom … Thanks big guy!

  4. Karen crotty ⋅

    Thanks Jim. This was a beautiful piece. I have watched Evan grow in confidence and spirit this baseball season. He, you and your whole family are an inspiration to us all. I look forward to reading more great blogs and for any actual baseball knowledge that you care to share with me on the sideline- Oh let me guess there are no side lines in baseball, right? Is there any hope for this Irish baseball novice. Regards. Karen crotty.

  5. Geoff Cooper ⋅

    Jim, the turn of events you mention in this post with Evan were remarkable. I remember when he struck out, he was indeed distraught. After the game, as his teammates consoled him, he coined the phrase “We foughted hard.” Yes, not proper English, which is why the whole Team laughed. And, of course, we all used that phrase after every game the rest of the season: “We foughted hard!” When he tripled and stole home, we were never more happy. An improbable Team win. Evan’s a great kid with a great spirit and such positivism. He was a joy to coach this summer!

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