There are not many words in the English language, which have as profound an impact on one's life, as the following two words. I QUIT. Those two words roll off the tongue easily but can be the most painful and regrettable words spoken. It's funny, but to say I SUCCEEDED also rolls easily off the tongue but it is very difficult to achieve. Shouldn't it be the other way around?
On the weekend of September 23 thru September 25, the Los Angeles Dodgers paid tribute to and said goodbye to Vin Scully. He was the voice of that city’s baseball team for 67 years. This post talks briefly about him and baseball. I wanted to focus on Mr. Scully's passion and accomplishment, along with two individuals on the Dodgers team who overcame adversity. The individual achievements of each man are noteworthy.
Of course, I will not even begin to pretend I could say enough positive things about Vin Scully that other far more articulate individuals have not already said. Vin Scully loved his job, which meant it never was a job, at all. He enjoyed what he did for a living and retired on his terms. At 89 years old, Vin Scully decided it was time to stop going to his day job.
How many of us are capable of working into our 60’s, 70’s, or 80’s and for one reason or another convince ourselves, we cannot. Of course, there are circumstances beyond our individual control that alter our lives. Aging causes us to slow down, but that does not mean quitting is the only choice.
For most people the early days of the daily grind were primarily for one main reason, to get ahead. Nothing is wrong with getting ahead, but for most, they were just jobs. Somewhere along the way, most people leave their dreams behind and possibly their happiness.
Passion is only one key element to succeeding, but it is vitally important throughout a person's vocation. Waking up each morning with a desire to accomplish our goal before the day ends. Asking ourselves how is it that the hours flew by so fast because we love what we do, not because we are overwhelmed or bogged down with garbage. Is it possible to have a passion for what we do, absolutely? People like Vin Scully prove that anything is possible.
There are two young players currently playing for the Dodgers, Charlie Culbertson, and Andrew Toles who I will speak about shortly. Charlie Culbertson is 27 years old, originally drafted by the Giants in 2007 right out of high school. He made it to the major leagues in 2012. Two months later the Giants traded him to the Colorado Rockies. In August of 2013, he hit his first major league home run. In 2015, Charlie suffered a back injury and missed most of that season.
Following his injury, Charlie and the Rockies agreed to go their separate ways. He signed a minor league contract with the Dodgers and in 2016 he was invited to the Dodgers spring training camp. An injury to one of the starting players gave Charlie the opportunity to start on opening day with the club. In July, he returned to the minor leagues only to be recalled, a month later.
During the season, all teams have 25 players on their daily roster. In September, the last month of the season all teams are allowed to increase that number to 40. It gives each team that extra push to win and go to the post-season playoffs.
For those who are not baseball fans, Charlie’s contribution came at a time that propelled him into his few minutes of instant fame. In 2016, Charlie Culbertson statistics from the LA Dodgers say that he was at the plate only 66 times had 19 hits, of which one was a home run. However, that home run is the one that every baseball player, no matter what age, dreams of all the time.
It was late on a Sunday afternoon September 25; Vin Scully was broadcasting his last baseball game at Dodger Stadium. That alone was monumental unto itself. The Dodgers were playing the Colorado Rockies and were trailing the Rockies during the whole game. In dramatic fashion, Corey Seager, a sensational rookie shortstop, who will have many stories written about him during his career, hits a homerun in the bottom of the 9th inning to tie the game.
In many stadiums throughout the league when teams play afternoon games, and it is late in the day, shadows begin to creep across the field, which becomes a problem, primarily for the hitter. The pitcher, who is 60 feet away, is standing on the mound in bright sunlight. However, the hitter is standing at home plate in a shadow.
Imagine being thrown a small round object, traveling at somewhere between 88-98 mph. Going from light to dark in a flash and you are standing at home plate hoping to connect for any hit, a single or maybe a double. When Boone Logan, the Colorado pitcher, threw the ball, Charlie didn’t see it as well as he hoped, apparently his bat did.
That afternoon, in the bottom of the 10th inning, with the game tied, Charlie Culbertson hit a home run, which gave the Dodgers the Western Division Title for the fourth year in a row. Baseball is a game where an individual can go from obscurity to a hero, with one swing of the bat. It was a great sendoff present to Vin Scully, but just months earlier Charlie Culbertson was competing for a place on the team. Oh, I forgot, that was only his sixth home run, in his career.
Personally, I think that I have saved the best for last. Andrew Toles, a young man with speed, a good throwing arm, and overall ability, almost missed his opportunity to play baseball at the major league level. Personal problems plagued Andrew Toles, and he almost hung up his cleats.
In 2015, Andrew missed playing the whole season and even spent a couple of weeks working in a grocery store. Attitude problems got in his way, and he began to get a reputation for being too difficult. Andrew Toles was destined to be one of those people that let the opportunity slip through his fingertips.
There are 162 regular baseball games, plus 30 spring training games. Andrew Toles played about 40 regular games with the Dodgers, most in the second half of the season. A quiet young man, but when Andrew was given the opportunity to play he appeared to be playing the game as though his life depended on it. Over time, his skill set and his attitude both continued to improve. Someone within the Dodger organization believed in Andrew, and it paid off. Was this also the time Andrew believed in himself? Only Andrew Toles knows what changed. He has added depth to a good team's lineup. Andrew will likely reap the rewards for all of his hard work. Teams that are going into the finals shrink back to 25 players on their rosters. Andrew Toles will be a Dodger on that roster.
Looking at these three men, it is more than luck that finds them where they are today. For Vin Scully, he enjoyed what he did and was passionate about the game of baseball. The game going forward will now be less interesting without him.
As for Charlie Culbertson and Andrew Toles, how did both rise from obscurity only months earlier to move forward and play in the National League Playoffs?
For any individual who has the desire to succeed it comes down to several components, which make up a simple answer. Hard work, bad days, determination, disappointments, commitment, practice, patience, never giving up, never quit, push yourself higher than you ever believed you could go.
If I were writing about Ernest Hemingway, Stephen King, or myself, all of those components and words would resonate just as loud.