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Life Lessons

The Day Duke Snider Broke a Heart

Duke Snider’s recent passing brought some memories from New York Post columnist Peter Vecsey.

Snider, a Hall of Famer who died last month at age 84, was playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers when Vecsey, then in seventh or eighth grade, went to a game.

You can read the details here, but the short version is that Vecsey entered Ebbets Field with Snider as his hero, and came out with a different opinion. Somewhere in between, Snider had given him an obscene gesture.

The point here is not whether Snider was a good or bad guy; I never met him,and he received many glowing tributes. The point is not whether young people should worship ballplayers. The point for all coaches, employers, teachers, parents and everyone is that Vecsey never forgot that day. It’s what he remembered when he heard that Snider had passed on.

It’s a vital lesson. People may forget what you say or do, but they will never forget how you made them feel. You must choose your words carefully. And remember that words carry only a small percentage of the message you transmit. Tone, body language and facial expression account for much more.

Snider retired in 1964 with 407 homers. Eight times he was a member of the All-Star team. And yet when he died, Vecsey thought of a day more than 50 years ago when Snider made him feel small.

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Mike Tully speaks to sports, business and educational groups. He also works with coaches, athletes and teams to make their practice time more productive and efficient. He and Gary Pritchard are co-authors of “Ten Things Great Coaches Know.” To see Coach Tully and Coach Pritchard discuss “Seven Ways to Prepare for Adversity,” go here.


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