I started playing baseball at a very early age, and I have always loved the sport and the important life lessons learned by playing team sports.
So as you can imagine, these last few months for me have been like living on a cloud. Every day, another exciting come-from-behind win or bitter disappointment. Luckily for Royals fans the wins in 2015 have far outnumbered the disappointments during this amazing year!
I was one of the folks who sat on the Liberty Memorial hill wearing a blue hat and blue clothing for several hours last week waiting to celebrate the World Series victory that people from Kansas City have been seeking for 30 years. My job was to come very early to the Liberty Memorial hill and save a place for the rest of the family to join me later in the day. So I found a nice location under a shade tree, put down the blanket and found myself with lots of time to think about what baseball has meant to me.
I thought about my mom and dad who watched me play baseball in little league, American Legion and Ban Johnson. I thought about the time in 1964 when St. Louis Cardinal catcher Tim McCarver came to my high school the day after the World Series ended to see his brother, who was also my high school principal. I thought about the day when I was working at the Kauffman Foundation when Mr. K asked me what I wanted to be when I was a little boy. I told him I wanted to be a major league baseball player. He smiled at that, and said that “ship has sailed but I know the owner of the Royals and if you want to work in the Royals organization…I can make that happen.” He was serious and we had several conversations about that possibility but luckily I stayed with the Kauffman Foundation. I remembered when Jackson County Executive Marsha Murphy called me to see if Mr. K would agree to have the stadium named after him. I thought about taking my wife, kids and now my grandkids to many baseball games and being somewhat frustrated that they seem to like the cotton candy much more than the game.
While l love the fine points of baseball, I think baseball is much more than a game. When asked by reporters about what the Royals players owe their success to…the answer from virtually every Royals player was “to keep the line moving.”
Sometimes you strike out, but you trust that the next person up will get the hit; now your job is to support and encourage the next in line. You might not be in the starting lineup, you might be a relief pitcher, or a pinch hitter but eventually your job is to be ready to go in when called upon so you can “keep the line moving.”
When Royals player Christian Colon was asked how he kept his focus so that when he was called to pinch hit in game 5 after not playing in a game for several weeks…he said out of respect for his teammates he had to be ready when called upon so he could “keep the line moving.”
Frankly, at home, work or when we are volunteering at a nonprofit or in our faith community, our job is “to keep the line moving.” We each have different responsibilities in each of our roles in life, but when it comes down to it, if we do whatever it takes to reach a goal and not worry about who gets the credit, we will collectively enjoy much success. That’s what winning Royals baseball is all about.
Thanks to Mr. and Mrs. K for bringing baseball back to KC — the 2015 Royals have taught us the importance of “keeping the line moving.”
So even if my kids and grandkids never understand the fine points of baseball, I hope they will appreciate what the 2015 Royals team has taught us: in life, we simply need to keep the line moving.