Character Lessons From The Boys Of Summer
It is tremendously refreshing to see a model of leadership character in professional sports. In amongst the dreadful headlines from the NFL, and after the Donald Stern debacle in the NBA, there were two great stories of stellar character from Major League Baseball.
First off, Minnesota Twins pitcher Phil Hughes pitched yesterday in a game that was shortened on account of rain. The truncated game left Hughs 1/3 of an inning (1 out) shy of amassing 210 innings pitched for the year. This would have qualified him for a bonus of $500,000. The Twins organization offered Phil a chance to play for 1 more out to qualify for the bonus. Hughes declined.
In the pitcher’s own words “”I owe too much to this organization for the next two years to risk getting hurt for an incentive,” Hughes said. “For whatever reason it wasn’t meant to be. There’s a lot bigger problems out there. I’m proud of my season.” (ESPN).
Hughes already qualified for two separate bonuses prior to his 210 threshold. But it’s the quality of his character in putting the organization, and not himself, first. Phil didn’t feel that pitching another inning and risking an injury was the right thing to do for a club that has invested much into him and other players to take their organization to the next level.
You would be hard pressed to find others that would declining pitching 1 more out to receive a half million dollar payday.
(See Hughe’s story here, espn.go.com)
Secondly, is a story of class personified. Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees, is retiring after playing 20 years with the same team. If that feat in and of itself wasn’t rare enough, a sports column (ESPN) gave some insight into his character. During all of those years, Jeter never once was ejected or got into an argument with an umpire.
In a day where competitive spirits are heightened, and prima donna players assert their authority over the rule keepers (umpires), it is amazing to see that Jeter played with a level sense of character for over 2900 games without losing his composure.
Umpires have nothing but positive things to say about Jeter’s demeanor. Always respectful. Always subject to their authority. On the rare time’s he disagreed, he would quietly talk to the umpire so as not to make a scene, voice his opinion, and then walk back to the dugout.
Phil Hughes and Derek Jeter’s examples of leadership on the diamond serve as great standards of unselfish and respectful character. They are not out for themselves. They give respect to the people and organizations in baseball. They give respect to those in authority. They work and strive hard, but know their role. They don’t whine and complain when things don’t go their way.
Fall may be coming. But the examples from these boys of summer should warm our hearts.
(Phil Hughes image: simbio.com; Derek Jeter: yougabsports.com)