Lessons in Baseball
By Chick Moorman
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? All about baseball.
I played baseball whenever and wherever I could. I played
organized or sandlot. I played catch with my brother, with
my father, with friends. If all else failed, I bounced a rubber
ball off the porch stairs, imagining all kinds of wonderful
things happening to me and my team.
It was with this attitude that I entered the 1956 Little League
season. I was a shortstop — not good, not bad, just
Gordon was not addicted. Nor was he good. He moved into our
neighborhood that year and signed up to play baseball. The
kindest way of describing Gordon's baseball skills is to say
that he didn't have any. He couldn't catch. He couldn't hit.
He couldn't throw. He couldn't run.
In fact, Gordon was afraid of the ball.
I was 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
that was delivered, and "get lost" was the one that
Gordon got lost.
That scenario violated my 11-year-old sense of justice, so
I did what any indignant shortstop would do. I tattled. I
told my coach the whole story. I shared the episode in full
detail, figuring my coach would complain to the League office
and have Gordon returned to his original team. Justice and
my team's chances of winning would both 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 their own ability.
Gordon became my teammate.
I wish I could say Gordon got the big hit in the big game
with two outs in the final inning. It didn't happen. I don't
think Gordon even hit a foul ball the entire season. Baseballs
hit in his direction (right field) 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'm not sure if Gordon learned anything from my coach that
year. I know I did. I learned to bunt without tipping off
my intention. I learned to tag up on a fly if there were less
than two outs. I learned to make a smoother pivot around second
base on a double play.
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 everyone has worth, whether
they can hit .300 or .030. 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'm grateful that
man was my coach. I was proud to be his shortstop. And I was
proud to be his son.
Chick Moorman is the co-author of “The 10 Commitments:
Parenting with Purpose” and is the author of “Spirit
Whisperers: Teachers Who Nourish a Child’s Spirit.”
He is one of the world's foremost authorities on raising responsible,
caring, confident children. He publishes a free monthly e-zine
for educators and another for parents. To sign up for one,
order a book, or obtain more information about how he can
help you or your group meet your staff development or parenting
needs, visit his website today: www.chickmoorman.com