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The A.R.T. of a Champ - "Respect"

posted Jan 11, 2016, 9:23 AM by Ray Hughes   [ updated Jan 11, 2016, 9:25 AM ]

Proverbs 27:17 (MSG) "You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another."

One night I was pitching with a short lead in the late stages of a game at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego.  The first batter got on base on a 3-2 pitch that I thought should have been called strike three.

I got the next batter to hit an easy two-hop ground ball to our second baseman, Joe Morgan.  It should have been a double play, but Morgan dropped it and then dropped it again while trying to recover.  So now there were runners at first and second with no outs when I thought there should be two outs and nobody on base.   I got the next batter to hit the same ground ball and Joe booted it again.  Now I had the base loaded with nobody out when I should have been back in the dugout with a 1-2-3 inning.  I was hopping mad.  And then when I saw Joe walking to the mound, I got even madder.  When he got there, he said, “Larry, I’m sure glad you’re pitching tonight because you’re the one guy who can get us out of this mess. “

I will never forget those words – especially the word “us.”  That simple sentence completely transformed my thinking.  Instead of being mad at him and just about ready to throw in the towel, I got pumped up.  It was such a great compliment to think that he was depending on me to save the team from the situation that he created.  I knew he was right, but I don’t think many players would have had the nerve to come in and say something like that under the circumstances. 

Joe went back to his position and I took a deep breath.  Now it was my turn to prove him right.  I’d pitched out of bases loaded, no outs situations of my own making before.  Why couldn’t I do it now?  Well, I did.  I got the next three hitters out and the Padres scored one run but we still had the lead and ended up winning the game. 

Your job as a teammate is to help overcome another player’s mistakes.  For example, with a man on third and one out, almost anything the batter hits will score the run.  But sometimes he hits a pop-up or strikes out.  That’s when the next hitter can save the day by getting a hit. 

This isn’t just about baseball.  It also applies to any team you’re on.  It could be in a family setting, at school, at church or on the job.  We’re all in this together.  There is no better feeling than saving the day for a family member or a friend.  And when you think about how it makes them feel, it’s even better.  From that day forward, when a teammate made an error, I made a pledge to get him off the hook.  That’s what being a good teammate is all about.

-Larry Dierker

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