Lessons in Baseball
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.
With this attitude, I entered the 1956 Little League season.
I was a shortstop. Not good, not bad, Just addicted.
Gordon was not addicted. Nor was he good. He moved into our
neighborhood that year and signed up to play baseball. The
kindest way to describe 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 they
delivered, and "get lost" was the message that was heard.
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 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 his
Gordon joined our team.
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 his son.
By Chick Moorman