When the Time Comes to Turn the Page
I have gone with Older Brother to a number of baseball tryouts over the last couple of years as he has attempted to find a school that needs a submarining righthanded reliever. With no offers–at least to this point–he has determined that the time has probably come to turn the page on his baseball career.
One principle to which I have tried to stay true with both of my boys is that WHO they become is much more important than WHAT they become. That’s not just a principle to fall back on when their baseball careers are over. It’s a principle for life. The message is not, “Well, that didn’t work out, but at least you have your character and integrity to fall back on. At least you’re a good person. At least you’re a hard worker.”
Every experience–whether sports, jobs, relationships, classes, etc.–offer something to learn and opportunities to grow as a person. My job as a dad is the help my kids frame their experiences beyond their immediate results. Nothing has been more beneficial for that purpose with Older Brother, though, than baseball. That’s one reason I want to give back to the game through writing Coach Dave.
“I am more concerned about who your sons become that what they become,” Coach Dave began. “Some of them may be voted to the league all-star team but not all of them. A few of them may go on to play high school baseball, and maybe–just maybe–we have a college or even a professional baseball player on our twelve-year-old recreational league team.”
All eyes turned toward Bryce Ford as the coach continued, “But all of these boys, God willing, will grow up to be young men. And I think you would all agree that no matter how successful they are on the field, most of their lives will be lived after their careers are over.”
–Excerpt from Coach Dave: Season One
I was grateful this week for a Twitter exchange with my friend Andy Milligan, who shares a mutual love for baseball and the ability to teach life lessons through it. One of his sons reached a “turn the page” moment of a different type this week. He was chosen in the Major League Baseball amateur draft and will have an opportunity to play professional baseball. I sent my friend this message: “What a great day for a baseball dad. I know how proud and grateful you must be. Happy for you.”
His response–though very much in line with what I have come to expect from him–is significant. It highlights what happens when baseball is played, coached, and parented with the proper perspective. It did not deserve to be pigeonholed in my messages, so I share it with you with his permission:
Thank you, Al. Drew’s worked hard and done things the right way. That makes me proud regardless. But yes, we are excited! (Emphasis added)
In my closing note of the Coach Dave book, I finish with these words: “…the point is to highlight the values of what Coach Dave has taught his players…and their parents. These values make champions in life–win or lose.”
I hope you will take a piece of advice from two baseball dads whose sons are preparing to turn the page in their baseball careers. One day, the time may come for your son to pursue the dream of millions of American boys. One day, the time will come–sooner or later–for him to put away his gear and call it a career. Make sure you have raised a champion for life. Your son won’t ever need to turn the page on having great character. He won’t ever have to turn the page on being a man of integrity. Teach him well.