Lessons from a Left Handed Pitcher

Move over, Brian Wilson! A new pitcher has my attention, and it’s not because of a beard or incredibly cool pair of orange cleats. This young man is a leader, and we could all stand to learn a thing or two from him. Last month I had the privilege of meeting University of Texas baseball player Sam Stafford. He was recently drafted by the Yankees and spent his summer in Austin getting ready for the big leagues. I had just moved my family to Austin and was hanging with my kids at the pool when Sam and several of his friends showed up. I don’t know about you, but when I was 21 if I saw two young screeching children at one end of the pool I think my friends and I would have made a beeline for the other end. But Sam and his friends came over and spent time with us.

5 Lessons from a Lefty:

Engage with others. Be intentional about meeting new people. Life is boring when you hang back in the safety of your own circle. Sam marched right up and shook my hand, introducing himself with a friendly confidence that we should all strive for.

Don’t talk about yourself first. Sam took an interest in getting to know us, asking questions about our move and the kids. He didn’t voluntarily tell me he was a baseball player, much less a Longhorn drafted by the Yankees a few weeks earlier. No, I had to drag that information out of him over the course of an hour. I’m pretty sure that if I was drafted by the Yankees, I would shout it from the rooftops and talk about it any chance I got. My conversation with Sam was a good reminder that we should be humble and more focused on others.

Be fun, not lame. My 6 year old son was drawn to Sam like a long lost older cousin. Instead of treating him like some annoying little kid, Sam was super fun and played with him, talked to him, and threw him up in the air. Really cool.

Take the initiative to make things right. At one point the strong-as-an-ox baseball player tossed my son way up in the air and he landed in a deeper part of the pool than he expected. It scared him. My little guy got angry and ran out of the pool crying. Sam could have easily shrugged off my 6 year old’s overreaction. Instead, he got out of the pool and went over to an upset child and took the initiative to ask what was wrong.

Know when to apologize, even if it’s not your fault. Sam had done absolutely nothing wrong, and my son was losing it. Recognizing that a young boy’s perception of what happened is more important than what the intention was, Sam said, “Hey, I’m sorry buddy, I won’t throw you up that high again.” A great lesson here. The next time you unintentionally hurt someone, whether your actions were right or wrong, just get over yourself and apologize. It’s the right thing to do.

I hope you learned some things from this young athlete. And keep an eye out for him. He’s going places. I think I need a new shirt.