Wednesday, August 14, 2013

What Will People Remember?

I remember as a kid debating his "worth" with a friend. We were trading baseball cards and I needed his to complete my All Stars. But he wouldn't give it up. "He's the best hitter in the game, and one of the best all-time." I didn't believe it. I'm a National League guy myself, so the best hitter in the game was obviously Tony Gwynn. And as far as all-time? At that age, my knowledge began and ended with Ted Williams. So of course I figured fair value was one of my "doubles" like Jerry Hairston Sr. (respect the specs!)

But the numbers don't lie. One of only four players to have hit 300 home runs, 3000 hits and hit for .300 average (Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Stan Musial being the others). He's a Hall-of-Famer. He is the only player to have won batting titles (for best average) in three decades, and his best season is the closest anyone has come to .400 since Williams did it in 1941.

With that last one, if you're a baseball fan you've figured out who I'm talking about- George Brett.

For the die-hard baseball fan, stats mean everything. They offer comparisons across generations and eras (no, I won't get into steroids here) which means you can say George Brett and Ted Williams in the same sentence. (Or even George Brett and Hank Aaron, but that feels weird)

But ask a casual baseball fan about the legacy of George Brett and they are likely to remember this:

This happened 30 years ago; an outburst memorialized with an anniversary. I don't even have to play the video. I've seen it so many times I know exactly how Brett looks as he storms out of the dugout. I know, because I see that face in the mirror sometimes. And sometimes I see it in my son.

I showed this video to my son not long ago after one of his epic temper tantrums. I told him, "here is one of the best players to ever play baseball, but all most people remember is this." I continued with the fatherly pep-talk of he can be anything he wants to be in life, do anything he wants to do, but if he can't control himself none of that will matter. All anyone will remember about him are his outbursts.

I think he took the lesson well. Of course, I don't set a good example. My temper is probably my greatest vice.

There's a story about a boy who struggles with his temper. His dad tells him to go pound a nail in the fence every time he gets angry, to take out his frustrations there. Over time the son grew tired of pounding nails into the stubborn old wood so one day he approached his father and handed him the hammer. "I'm done," he told him. "Good, now go out and take out all the nails," the father replied. "But dad, the fence will be filled with holes!" His father then explained how that's what anger does. And no matter how much you try to fix it, it does damage that can not be so easily repaired. Anger leaves holes.

Yes, this lesson was for my son. But it was just as much for me.

"In your anger do not sin." (Ephesians 4:26)


Ryan said...

You speak about this event as if it were a negative for Brett. Why is that so?

Fatha Frank said...

Ryan, thanks for stopping by! From what I've seen it isn't a negative for Brett personally. In fact, the event has probably afforded him a level of fame he may not have had otherwise. But on a personal level, what would you rather be known for- being one of the greatest hitters of all time or a temper tantrum from a single one of a thousand games he played? And I think we can apply that lesson to ourselves- we may seek the short-term fame at the cost of long-term impact, or lose long-term impact due to a single-time event.