Yes, it’s baseball season again. Time for us to dream about our team being in the championship game. Time for the hot dogs, ice cold beer and peanuts. Time to take your kid to the park where you will share your stories of when your dad would take you to the park.
And, so it goes, with the season upon us, I couldn’t think of a better player to talk about but the great Willie Mays.
Willie Mays was a twenty year old playing in the minor leagues when the New York Giants brought him up to play center field in May of 1951.
Mays started off slowly in the majors hitting only once in his first 26 at bats. His confidence was failing as he told Giants manager Leo Durocher that he didn’t think he was ready for big-league pitching. Durocher then gave Mays the vote of confidence that he needed by telling him, “As long as I am the Manager, Willie, you’re going to play center field.” Durocher also told Mays, ”You are the best ball player I have ever seen.”
Mays was quoted in a 2000 interview, “Those few words that Leo said made me realize that I could play major-league ball.”
Those few words were all that Mays needed. He went on to hit 9 times in his next 24 at bats. He then went on to becoming the National League Rookie of the Year in 1951. By the end of Willie Mays career, he’d hit 660 home runs and 3,283 base hits. Mays was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1979.
Mays possessed all the intangibles of being great. He had work ethic, passion, athleticism and skills. He was also a student of the game as he made a habit of studying opposing pitchers and took mental notes on them. “Batting starts before the game,” Mays said. “You have to know the pitcher.”
Durocher went on to write in his 1975 autobiography, “Nice Guys Finish Last”, “He’s the greatest player any of us has ever seen.”
As great as Willie Mays was, it may have never happened if he didn’t hear those few words of confidence from his manager.
Where can you share a few words of confidence to get the most out of your team or even your children. Remember that you posses the power to start a tremendous career for someone else with just a few words.