// you’re reading...

How to Win

The Beautiful Difficulty

“Everything worthwhile, everything of any value, has its price.” — Loretta Young 

No major-league player has ever hit a home run in five consecutive times at-bat. Johnny Blanchard may have come the closest.

Blanchard, who died Wednesday at age 76, hit four in a row in July of 1961. The fifth time, he hit a long fly ball that was caught only a few feet from the fence.

And so even though major-league baseball has been played since 1876, never has anyone — whether a Hall of Fame player like Lou Gehrig or a career backup like Blanchard — been able to hit five straight homers.

It’s just too difficult. Baseball is too difficult. Anything worthwhile is difficult.

But, as Tom Hanks says in “A League of Their Own,” “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard… is what makes it great.”

Take Blanchard. He played eight seasons in the major leagues and hit 67 home runs. Four of them came in one week. That means there were a lot of  weeks when things didn’t go nearly as well.

So how do people cope with that kind of difficulty?

Well, love of the sport helps. But even more important is consistent preparation. Players get to the top, and stay there, by understanding that there will be some good days and some bad days, but that you must prepare on a high level every day.

I was talking yesterday with a baseball coach at a university with a very good program. He says that he is beginning to notice an improvement in the team’s approach to practice, because the players have seen the connection between how they prepare and how they perform.

Top performers prepare like champions all the time. The game is just too difficult to do it any other way.

Coach Tully’s Extra Point: Author Harvey Frommer relates this anecdote about Blanchard. In 1965, the Yankees traded him to to Kansas City. Blanchard sat in the Yankees clubhouse and sobbed. Mickey Mantle sat down next to Blanchard and attempted to cheer him up.

”Don’t take it so hard, John. Just think, in Kansas City you’re going to get a chance to play.”

”I can’t play, Mick. That’s why I’m crying.”


No comments for “The Beautiful Difficulty”

Post a comment