When it’s a family member you get a call.
Sometimes… in the middle of the night. Sometimes… an hour after you leave the house.
When it’s somebody famous you turn on the t.v. and the news anchors let you know.
And when you are a baseball family, raising 3 boys and 2 girls, all who played baseball or softball, and the three boys all played ball in college… and the only guy you talked about when they were growing up was your hero… Mr. Henry Aaron…
you get a text message from one of your boys, who grew up playing the game, “Henry Aaron passed away.”
When I was a little kid, my dad watched the games on t.v. and I watched with him. Being little I was more enamored with my dad… I thought it was funny when he would always say, “Watch his hands! Watch his hands!”
It was funny to me because he would say the same thing about Muhammad Ali.
As I got older, and understood what he was talking about, I really appreciated that. And when we would watch old games together, my kids and I, I would say the same thing.
But then I would tell them about Hanks other baseball skills.
People never really talk about how he played the outfield. He was never flashy.
He was always in the right place at the right time.
And… there isn’t much video… but the few there are… he could throw dudes out!
But… the thing I would stress most to my kids, that Mr. Aaron epitomized, was sustained excellence.
A quote from an interview on the MLB channel, “Take away his 755 home runs, and he still has over 3,000 hits!”
My second oldest son stopped playing to pursue his music.
My youngest experienced Tommy John surgery.
My oldest though, was blessed, he played all the games from Pee Wee League through college, leaving college being number one in the record book… for games played.
When, as men, we lose a hero… be it someone famous, our dad, or maybe a grandpa… we lose one of those pillars of life that we never really knew how much we leaned on.
During those baseball years of my kids younger days, as the President of the volunteer program, I thought I could do something cool for the program, and the kids playing… and if I’m honest… something for myself.
I wanted to set up a visit, for our little town, and little baseball program… from the biggest star I could think of… Mr. Aaron himself.
I only told a few people about it at the time.
They all said, “You’ll never get him to come.”
Don’t know for sure until you ask.
So within a couple of phone calls I was talking to his secretary.
She said, “Mr. Aaron appreciates your consideration, but his schedule this year won’t allow him to consider doing this, at this time.”
How far out is he scheduled?
“At the moment… two years. And his speaking fee…”
I don’t recall what the fee was.
Thank you ma’am.
Those people I told said, “I told ya.”
Yeah… but you didn’t know for sure. Now I know… what it would take to get him.
I just ran out of time.
People forget, I kinda worked for a famous guy… a one Mr. Bart Starr. #15 Look him up.
So, I know you can get a hold of people. You just gotta call. You’ll never get a hit, if you never swing the bat.
Boys look to their heroes; Men Lose theirs.
I suppose we need heroes. Someone to look to, to see how it needs to be done.
We never look at the dad, across the way, coaching little league for twelve years.
We never look at the banker, who spends his whole career being decent and honest to his customers.
Or the mechanic, no one ever talks about the mechanic… who still works on the little old ladies car, even though she’s three bills behind in payments.
And farmers… nobody idolizes a farmer.
But a ball player… exhibiting sustained excellence… not only in his chosen profession… but in life… in business… but we don’t even see those other attributes once they are out of the… public eye.
If you didn’t know who Mr. Aaron was. Please look him up.
I never played ball past 10 years old, I never hit a home run, and my personal sustained excellence… leaves much to be desired.
But if I watched an interview, or looked up an old video, watching Mr. Aaron, ‘The Hammer’ and saw how he conducted himself… well, I would buck up, and try to walk a little taller, I tried to be nicer to folks, I tried to conduct myself with a little more proper character.
Thank you Mr. Aaron. #44
Rest in peace.
In our personal circles of influence, we may never truly realize who may be looking to us, to be their example, hero… may be too big a word, maybe not… but as EMERGING MEN we can focus on our 3 E’s as best as we can… knowing… someone is watching.
To ENCOURAGE, EQUIP & ENGAGE… is an Emerging Mans way to “sustained excellence.”