38 Lessons in Baseball
As an 11-year-old, I was addicted to baseball. I listened to baseball games on the radio. I watched them on TV. The books I read were about baseball. I took baseball cards to church in hopes of trading with other baseball card junkies . My fantasies are all about baseball. With this attitude, I entered the 1956 Little League season.
Gordon, who moved into our neighborhood that year, also signed up to play baseball. Quite different from me, he was not addicted. Nor was he good. He couldn't catch. He couldn't hit. He couldn't throw. He couldn't run. In fact, he was afraid of the ball.
I felt relieved when the final selections were made and Gordon was assigned to another team. Everyone had to play at least half of each game, and I couldn't see Gordon improving my team's chances in any way. Too bad for the other team.
After two weeks of practice, Gordon dropped out. My friends on his team laughed when they told me how their coach directed two of the team's better players to walk Gordon into the woods and have a chat with him. "Get lost" was the message they delivered. And Gordon got lost.
That scene violated my 11-year-old sense of justice, so I did what any indignant short stop would do. I tattled the whole story in full detail to my coach, figuring he would complain to the league office and have Gordon returned to his original team. Justice and my team's chances of winning would be served.
I was wrong. My coach decided that Gordon needed to be on a team that wanted him—one that treated him with respect, one that gave everyone a fair chance to contribute according to his own ability. Then Gordon joined our team.
I wish I could say Gordon got the big hit in the big game in the final inning . It didn't happen. Gordon didn't even hit a foul ball the entire season. Baseballs hit in his direction went over him, by him, through him or off him.... It wasn't that Gordon didn't get help. The coach gave him extra batting practice and worked with him on his fielding , all without much improvement.
I was not sure if Gordon learned anything from my coach that year. I know I did. I learned a lot from my coach that summer, but my most important lessons weren't about baseball. They were about character and integrity . I learned that we all have value, whether we can stop the ball or have to turn and chase it. I learned that doing what is right, fair and honorable is more important than winning or losing.
It felt good to be on that team that year. I was grateful that man was my coach. I was proud to be his shortstop and his son.
(By Chick Moorman)