Triple A stories

June 4, 2014 admin

As we enter the summer reading phase of our year, I just finished Where Nobody Knows Your Name: Life in the Minor Leagues of Baseball by John Feinstein. For those of you not familiar with this sportswriter’s work, he is also the author of A Season on the Brink: A Year with Bob Knight and the Indiana Hoosiers, A Good Walk Spoiled: Days and Nights on the PGA Tour and the underrated The Punch: One Night, Two Lives, and the Fight That Changed Basketball Forever, as well as many others.

This particular story focuses on the lives of baseball players in the minor leagues mostly in the Triple A. These individuals include those that have been at the top of their games in the Major Leagues and have been sent down due to injuries, age and more often than not “losing it” in terms of being the best at what they used to be. It’s their unforgiving drive and in many instances ego that keep them going. There are also those players who have never made it any further without any real hope of moving up, players who have been up to the majors for one at-bat, and also those who are very young and destined for true stardom.

In one interesting passage we learn that there was an actual Crash Davis whose name gained stardom in the classic movie Bull Durham, although the real Crash Davis did actually make it to the Philadelphia Athletics in the early 1940s for a brief time. For many of us, it’s easy to fantasize about playing baseball as many of us have held a bat in our hands and felt the beautiful visceral connection to connecting with a ball.

For those who follow the sport, there are many familiar names such as Scott Elarton, Dontrelle Willis, Brett Tomko and Scott Posednik, who have all attained some success and fame at the top. What is really striking about this book is not really the stories about these players and not even some of the heartbreaking stories about those who never quite make it although they began with great promise.

The true nugget of inspiration comes from those in the minor leagues that we really don’t focus on. There is the story about the career minor league umpire who finally has to come to terms with whether there will be a call up to the major leagues. Or the one about the sportscaster who has been knocking around down there for two decades and is always on the “short list” for the next call up. And, finally, the managers who so often sit and wait for the call as well while there are others who are really content just where they are.

Very often when we look beyond the people who play the game, no matter the industry, and see the ones who are actually holding it all together is when the entire picture comes into focus. We all have umpires, sportscasters and managers in our organizations although we call them by different names and they all contribute in what is perceived to be minor ways but have major impacts on how we get our jobs done.

Finally the one lesson that can be gleaned from Where Nobody Knows Your Name is that every single person at the Triple A level is the best in the world, except for the 750 players ahead of them.

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JS_91x119Jonathan Schein is senior vice president – sales and managing director – Americas at Institutional Real Estate, Inc.

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