Every spring the “Boys of Summer” celebrate the “Great American Pastime.” As I watched the Padres and Dodgers duke it out today, I was struck by the similarity between baseball and the way our society works.
Perhaps that’s why, as other sports gain in popularity, baseball still retains its popularity and historic significance after 100 plus years. It reflects each of us and how we live our lives.
“It’s as American as “mom and apple pie.” One of the most famous baseball comedy bits of all time is, “Who’s On First” by the comedy team of Abbott and Costello.
Baseball and life
Baseball, like life, has no clock. No time limit or “sudden death” overtime. You know there is an end to the game, but never exactly when… just like life. You might be way behind in the score, given a death sentence, but can rally and come back to survive another inning or even win in the end. In baseball, like life, we often fight the hardest in the last inning of the game.
Balls and Strikes
In baseball, like life, you get multiple chances to succeed. During nine innings you should get four at bats, and you get four balls and three strikes and whole bunch of foul balls. I think it’s interesting that if you fail to hit safely 70% of the time you can end up in the hall of fame. As in life, we often have many more failures than successes. But in baseball, like life, it’s those failures that make us better and stronger to be a better competitor the next day.
Individuals and Teams
In baseball, like life, you can excel individually and you can also excel as part of a team. Tinker to Evers to Chance was a famous double play trio of Chicago Cubs infielders. Shortstop Joe Tinker, second baseman Johnny Evers, and first baseman Frank Chance turned their first double play in 1902 and became immortalized in poem.
Signing a big client in life is akin to hitting one out of the park and winning the big game – an individual effort. Marketing, advertising and sales teams all working together can have a winning season or a very profitable year – a team effort.
In baseball, like life, we are sometimes asked to make sacrifices for the good of the group. In baseball the sacrifice bunt is used to advance the runners. A sacrifice fly with less than two outs can score a runner from third base. Parents may do without many material things to save for their children’s education. Sometimes you do the work and someone else gets the glory.
In baseball, like life, there are policeman. Baseball’s policemen are the umpires. Unlike life, umpires are exposed to stealing quite often. Stealing bases is not only OK, but encouraged in baseball. And, like the police in real life, they sometimes miss a call and call someone out who was actually safe. But that’s life and why we love baseball.
Last, but not least, in baseball, like life, you score when the opposing team controls the ball. In life, we find ourselves trying to achieve greatness while others control the ball at our workplace, school, or military service. Sometimes it does seem like the other team truly wants you to fail. And, sometimes at work, or in society, it may seem everyone is out to get you.
But, in baseball, like life, those who succeed in either, find a way to overcome the obstacles placed before them. Hitting the baseball or hitting the books can both brings success.
So when I wake up each morning and look my workday in the eye, a little voice inside yells, “PLAY BALL!”