Education from Little League to the Major Leagues

Jose Vilson Education, Jose

Derek Jeter and Joe Torre

Before I continue, a quick apology / shoutout to The Science Goddess at What It’s Like on the Inside. I never shouted you out for hosting / posting a great Ed Carnival, and I should have. Whoops.

Today, I began reading my Derek Jeter-covered Men’s Health, and in it, they start, as usual, with a letter from the editor Dave Zinczenko about leadership, and the intangibles, a set of characteristics that have defined Derek’s whole career. Yet, it takes decades to prepare and foster a baseball player of his caliber into the man he is today. Sure, most of the credit goes to his own determination and will-power, yet every baseball fan, Yankee fan or not, recognizes that his evolution into future first-ballot Hall of Famer and legend started from really young, and that talent was developed over time, and with a considerable amount of practice.

If we give it thought, his real career started at the little league level, developing the necessary skills and mannerisms that would eventually give him successful options in the future. His stats and awards weren’t important, though I’m sure he received a few. His coaches most likely saw promise in the little things that he did, and those elements separated him from the others. Did he always show up on time? How did he handle defeats? Was he early to practice? Does he contribute positive to his environment? Is he a valuable member of the team or only out for himself?

Maybe we personally can’t answer those questions, but we know that whenever he fell out of line, his coaches reminded him, and his parents made sure he followed through with his passion. The answers to some of the aforementioned questions made Jeter into the leader we see him as today. He wasn’t nor is he perfect. At times, he can be a little vindictive, and he’s sometimes called out teammates in the media when he probably shouldn’t have. However, we still have the deepest respect for him as the captain of arguably the most legendary team in America.

The assumed role of educators from Little League and high school to Double and Triple-A is undoubtedly to make sure is to make sure their players realize their potential on and even off the field. On the field, the managers have the most direct impact on whether the player will succeed baseball-wise. Yes, we’ve seen countless examples of athletes whose extracurricular activities often hinder their progress, some ending in tragic endings. Yet, we also see examples of players who, when moved from one team to the next, do better in the latter team or vice versa, and that has lots to do with the managers they’ve worked with.

It gets even more complex if we look deeper into the managerial styles of these students. Are they in-your-face old school style like Lou Pinella, or laid back and patient like Joe Torre? Are they blunt and fiery like Ozzie Guillen or the men of men like Terry Francona? Do they live in the tape room or just have a knack for managing? We also understand the roles of a Brian Cashman or a Billy Beane in making sure the right staff comes together, but we can also see how the mere presence of a manager in the dugout can completely revamp the way the team sits in there. Do they look downtrodden or are they in intense anticipation?

And maybe our students don’t always turn out to be a Derek, much the way some of us aren’t Tony LaRussa, but every manager has the potential to help a player become a strong leader, so even if his or her baseball career fizzles out, the student still remembers and reuses the same skills of patience, hard work, perfect practice, and determination in the other fields they wish to play in. Any role player, utility player, journeyman, or All-Star recognizes these essentials, but it’s the manager pushing the buttons, making sure they remember these pillars, and even through the harshest of times, getting his players ready for the postseason …

jose, who wants to be the greatest manager for his team …

p.s. – I recognize that professional baseball managers make a boatload more money than we do, but this is purely about the analogy.

p.p.s. – For the record, yesterday was the first day I eclipsed over 300 hits, so shout-outs to Taylor for that nod you gave to my post yesterday about the Holocaust and Maafa :-).