Lesson Taught; Lesson Learned; Be Humble

I had a pretty good childhood.  At least that is what I remember.  Or choose to remember.  Whatever…

In my mind it was a good one.  Mom and Dad were always around.  Doing things for us.  Mom was there when we left for school in the morning and waiting for us when we returned home in the afternoon…sometimes with cookies waiting.   In the summer, when we left to spend the day at the ball field playing baseball, she made a jug of lemonade and peanut butter sandwiches to accompany us to the diamond.  

Dad, well simply put, worked his ass off.  Blue collar electrician.  Willing to work overtime.  Any time.  Any weather.  Any conditions or any housing project you can imagine.  Then he coached us.  Baseball.  Soccer.  He even coached a basketball team at church even though he did not know much about the sport or have a son on the team…because they needed a coach. 

As a father, he was extremely loving…as much as a Marine could be.  Demanding.  A disciplinarian.  And tough on us when he felt we needed it.  As a coach, not much different.  Subtly was not his strong point.  Old fashioned coach.  Work hard and hustle.  Do well and you play.   Don’t like it…find another team.

This was back in the day when everyone did not get a trophy.  And the coach did not have to play everyone, and no roster batting orders.  (for those of the uninitiated, that means everyone on the team bats in the line up, not just those playing the field at the time).

I recall feeling good about a particular game I had one time.  I was probably about 10 years old at the time.  I had hit two home runs in a game, threw out a few baserunners as a catcher and had a big tag at the plate getting someone out in a close play.  I was feeling pretty good about my chances of playing for the Cardinals and taking Tim McCarver’s job as a catcher.  I was probably even strutting a little bit…as much as a 10 year could.

Anyway, Dad could sense my “cockiness”.  He also knew how to handle it. 

He came into my room with a piece of paper, almost a heavy card stock.  He gave it to me and told me to read it, think about it and let him know what I thought it meant.  Here is what it said (yea, I still have it):


Sometimes when you are feeling important,  Sometime when your ego is in bloom,  Sometime when you take it for granted, You are the best qualified in the room.

Sometime when you feel that your going, Would leave an unfillable hole, Just follow this simple instruction, And see how it humbles your soul.

Take a bucket and fill it with water; Put your hand in it up to your wrist; Pull it out and the hole that is remaining; Is a measure of how much you’ll be missed.

You may splash all you please when you enter; You can stir up the water galore; But stop and you’ll find in a minute; That it looks quite the same as before.

The moral in this quaint example; Is to do just the best that you can; Be proud of yourself, but remember; There is no indispensable man.

So even though I was only 10, I could figure it out easy enough.  Dad was sending me a message.  Message received.  And it was a humbling one at that. 

I have tried to keep that message in mind throughout my life.  Sharing it with players I coached and their parents.  And keeping it in mind myself, about what I do today.  I also gave a slightly different version to my sons: Remember, you are never as good as you think you are, and you are never as bad as you think you are.

Recently I read the following:

A man truly dies when his ideas and values die.  He is here to pass along his knowledge so others can use it and pass it along.  As long as his values are alive, he is too.

Eleven years ago today, Dad died.  7/30/2001.

But he is still alive.

Published in: on July 30, 2012 at 11:00 pm  Comments (6)  
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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. John, I just read your post…my mother died 21 years ago today…8/6/91…and she lives within me.


    • If she is living within you, she must be/have been an amazing woman. Hope you are well my friend…we really need to catch up!


  2. Nice, nice read. . . . . nice read.


  3. Hi I’m Heather! Please email me when you get a chance, I have a question about your blog! LifesABanquet1(at)gmail.com


    • what is the question?


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