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The single greatest moment in my baseball career came when I was ten years old. This, of course, tells you something about the rest of my athletic exploits, but we don’t need to get into all that.
We were playing the first place team in our league, Hooks Alarm Company; and my team, the Elks Club, was stuck somewhere in the middle of the standings. Hooks had taken a big lead but we’d slowly crawled back into the game. Bottom of the last inning, I was standing in the on deck circle with the bases loaded and the score 11 to 8. The Hooks coach called timeout, walked to the mound and called his son back to the mound to pitch.
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This was bad news. He’d already struck me out earlier in the game, and he was one of the hardest throwers in the league. I stood there watching him warm up and could hear my heart beating in my helmet. My Dad, who was also my coach, broke the pounding rhythm. He got right into the earhole of my helmet and said “No matter what happens, remember I love you, and I’m proud of you.” I stepped to the plate and hit the ball over the centerfielder’s head for a bases-clearing triple. A few minutes later I scored the winning run. We celebrated, as ten-year-olds do, with hot dogs from the concession stand.
That moment has meant different things to me at different points in my life, but it took on new dimensions when I became a father myself, and then when my kids got old enough to get grades on tests, win or lose at sports, clean their rooms or not. As parents, my wife and I have made it clear that we do not expect a certain level of...
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