Baseball has been my love since I was 5 years old. When I was 5 I had no idea that baseball was going to teach me so much about life. Baseball is not only a majestic and graceful game, but it teaches you valuable life lessons. Plus it’s extremely fun, let’s not forget that!
Baseball taught me how to accept failure. The best players in the game only succeed 3 out of every 10 attempts. The best players of all time hit around .300. That means that 7 out of 10 attempts at the plate you fail. Failure is a funny thing; it is to be expected but if you let failure linger over you, you will be more likely to fail again. Baseball teaches you that you must embrace failure and stride past it. Yogi Berra said “Baseball is 90% mental and the other half is physical.” Baseball is a mental game. If you strike out your first at-bat, you have to be able to accept that failure and then release it. You learn to mentally move past each failure and move toward your next goal.
Baseball teaches you to accept your role. There are about 25 players on each team, and only 9 of them play on the field at a time. This can be the part where you learn how to swallow your pride and put the team first. The greater good—winning—is what the game is about. You learn that in order to win, everyone must accept and play their role. The catcher gets beat up every game behind the plate, but he does it because it’s his job. The right fielder backs up first base on all infield ground balls because it’s his job. If the leadoff guy gets on, the next guy up bunts him over. And they do this all because it’s about the team and not just the individual.
Baseball teaches you discipline. Baseball is not an easy game to play. Sports scientists say that hitting a pitch is the most difficult thing to do in all of sports. I can attest to this fact. Hitting an 89 mph slider is no easy feat. To be successful in baseball you have to put in your work. Not just hitting, but fielding a ground ball that bounces on some of the most unstable and inconsistent surfaces is no walk in the park (pun intended). You have to spend time on the field taking GB’s and you have to put your time in the cage. Success in baseball doesn’t happen by accident.
The game of baseball is elegant. There is a poetry infused in the game of baseball. There is a fluidity that comes when you watch the best players play the game. As a fan of the game, I am baffled at the symphony of the movements as a short-stop and a second-baseman turn a double play, or an outfielder robs a homerun. Baseball is not a static game, there is always something going on. People think baseball players just stand around and play with the daises. This is the furthest thing from the truth. There is always somewhere you have to be, no matter what your position.
Baseball teaches you patience. Every good hitter will tell you that you must wait for your pitch. You have to let the pitcher give you the pitch you are looking for, and not to swing at his pitch. You learn to let the game come to you. You learn not to force the game, you put in your work and let the game play out. Some of the greatest hitters of all time knew when to take a walk and not swing at every pitch they see. Being patient in baseball brings you success.
The game of baseball is fun. Joe DiMaggio once said “When baseball is no longer fun, it’s no longer a game.” Baseball always has and forever will be a game. Baseball is where grown men to go play a game for a living. It’s a game where you are congratulated on getting dirty. Baseball is complex and elegant, but most of all is just a good ol’ fun time!
I love baseball for what it is, but also for what it has taught me. I would not be the man I am today without the game of baseball in my life. Long live America’s Pastime!