By Mike Johnson
Baseball smelled of leather but felt like confidence.
By third grade, I knew I had more skill than other kids.
And I desperately needed that self-esteem.
First-born and the runt of the litter, I had to work harder.
Which was fine with me because in baseball, work was play.
The more I worked, the better I played.
The better I played, the more confidence I felt.
And confidence felt GOOD.
I was amazed that everyone hadn’t made this connection.
I was best at defense.
When I played shortstop or second base, nothing got by.
I’d put in the time. I fielded grounders for hours and hours and hours.
My pitchback rebounded them at me. My buddies threw them at me. My coaches hit them at me.
I wore them out.
Some kids played scared, hoping nothing was hit their way.
I wanted every possible ball.
I wanted the most difficult chances.
My demanding rule #1: “Anything you can touch you can catch.”
If I couldn’t touch it, I’d make a sprawling dive to get there.
My demanding rule #2: “The pain only lasts an hour, the memory lasts forever.”
Even today, I remember my best circus catches.
And one painful miss in the outfield.
It was a 100-foot sprint to the gap, full extension dive, and a sno-cone catch that squirted out when I slammed to the ground.
Shoulda had it. I DID have it. But it fell out. Still aggravates me.
Baseball is a game of inches.
Today, these skills lay dormant.
My body can’t take the landings and my mind can’t stop the diving.
Which is a shame because nothing feels better than marinating in mastery.
You’re not just trying to play, you ARE the play.
Comfort, clarity and confidence are such a compelling mix.
So I limit my baseball to catch with the grandkids.
And it all floods right back.
If you’re fortunate, you’ve mastered a variety of skills.
Talents you can embrace and perform impressively without thought.
A musical instrument. Arts or crafts. Witty comments during conversation.
These are the things you should enjoy every day.
They’re fun. They’re comfortable. They’re esteem builders.
More Baseball Wisdom:
The Day We Nearly Bought the Field of Dreams
Say the Words
What I Learned Batting Against a Hall-of-Famer
Back to Mike's Warm, Wealthy Wisdoms
Back to Mike's Website, WorldsBestWriter.com