December 17, 2017

Rambling On About My Glory Days: Earning Respect

January 4, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

This is one of my most often used comments when talking with my baseball students, “Remember the good at-bats and forget the bad ones, or this game will drive you crazy.” This is the approach I believe most professional athletes use once they retire from professional baseball, too. We tend to remember the good at-bats (and plays) and forget about the bad ones. Of course, the bad ones are still in our minds somewhere and sometimes show up in dreams as nightmares. I could write about my 35 or so errors I had in Triple A Albuquerque one year and I believe I have mentioned my horrific 1982 season with the Cleveland Indians when I performed no better than a decent college ball player could have played.

Seeing as how I don’t want to go crazy, I will save them for when I run out of the good memories (hopefully never). I realize I had an “average at best” career in the big leagues, but it is fun being the hero (at least in my mind) in many of my stories. Believe me though; there are many more repressed stories in my mind where I was not a hero. But as mentioned, I will forget those and play the hero instead, for now.

Baseball is a team game but as I wrote about in my last post, there are many one-on-one battles that develop. Of course, the ultimate is when teams work together as one in an effort to consistently win and earn respect. I have written about some of those times in the past and will continue to do so in the future. Players are constantly being challenged and rising to meet those personal challenges is what being competitive is all about for athletes. It is the thrill of competition against one’s own insecurities as well as against the opposition.

Gaining respect in an athletes own mind as well as respect from the opposition is crucial for the competitive athlete’s mindset. This earning of respect is a constant process, especially for players with average skills like me. Here are a couple of more personal stories where I am the leading man in the tale.

Playing in Oakland one day against the Athletics – we were “battering” their pitcher pretty good when I came up to bat. Getting thrown at is sometimes an obvious situation in professional baseball but other times, it is not so obvious. Walking up to home plate, I don’t recall the thought of being a target entering my mind. This was probably because I was facing a former teammate of mine.

The first pitch came buzzing right at my head, where upon my teammates came racing out of the dugout towards the pitcher. It all ended pretty quickly as most baseball fights do, with a lot of pushing and yelling but no real blows. It is one thing to be thrown at but players always draw the line when the ball is up around the batter’s head. The determination factor certainly jumps up after such an encounter and when I lined the next pitch right back through the middle, returning the buzz to the pitcher, my sense of gratification was sky-high. Players were congratulating me on hitting the ball back at the pitcher, but of course it just happened that way. Also of course, I played it off as if it was intentional. I learned a valuable lesson also; just because some one is a friend that often goes out the window in competition.

The next situation where I earned some personal respect was in a Triple A game. The game was on the line in the ninth inning when I came up to bat with the bases loaded. The opposing manager brought an outfielder in as an extra infielder as some mangers do in this less than two outs situation. Being a punch and Judy hitter as I was, this was an excellent move. However, “Yours Truly” proceeded to hit a grand slam to end the game. Wow! - talk about gaining a little respect, and like the previous incident, respect and a sense of revenge just happen sometimes for those memories to remember.

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

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