Rambling On About My Glory Days: Peace of Mind at Thanksgiving
Of course, Thanksgiving is the time of year when one looks back, thinks of and thanks the people who they are most grateful for. In my professional career, there is one person that fits that bill every Thanksgiving.
1984 was a bittersweet year for me. I was traded from the Indians to the Mariners in the off season, along with power hitter Gorman Thomas. That was sweet – ” after my rough 1982 year with the Indians and mostly Triple A season in 1983, it was very fortunate that I would be getting another opportunity at a regular major league role. The sweet part was made possible by the Seattle manager Del Crandall, the former great catcher for the Milwaukee Braves. I had played for Crandall in the minor leagues and I am sure he was behind the trade. Del knew my game; steady, unflashy but hardworking. I believe the often stated golf term that described my game was “grinder.” Having lost pretty much all confidence in my play in Cleveland, Del was my last hope to prove that I could play in the major leagues. It certainly helped that he said to me early in the year, “Relax, you are my second baseman.” It felt like the weight of all my hopes and fears were lifted with that suggestion.
Athletes, by nature, are very competitive and the biggest competition goes on between one’s own ears. This was the case with me - a constant battle with confidence and proving that I belonged in the major leagues. When a player knows they will be in the line-up day in and day out, even if they experience a rough spell, it makes a huge difference. I have written before about how it was not enough to just make it to the big leagues and that was so true. An amount of proof that one belongs is necessary and my success in 1984 provided the peace of mind that allowed me to move on in my mind and life, no matter what happened professionally after that year.
The bitter part to the season happened late in the season. The Mariners decided that manager Del Crandall should be fired and that was a big blow to me. The man, who I owed my major league success to and my baseball peace of mind to, was fired. As is generally the case and is often stated, it is easier to fire the manger than to get rid of 25 players. Deep in my mind I realized that the firing may have meant the end of my success also. It was gradual, but that was the case. That was OK though, by then the proof was in the thanksgiving meal, as they say. Thank you Del Crandall.
Former major leaguer Jack Perconte is the author of The Making of a Hitter (http://jackperconte.com) and has a baseball instruction blog that can be found at www.baseballcoachingtips.net. He has recently published his second book Raising an Athlete – How to Instill Confidence, Build Skills and Inspire a Love of Sport