A while back I wrote a letter to my little sister as she graduated high school and prepared to go off to college. To nobody’s surprise, and in typical “Danielle fashion,” she’s killing it. While I never wrote about it, two years ago, before my brother Chris went off to college, we sat down and I gave him similar advice that I (later on) gave my sister.
I know it might come as a shock based on our height difference, but Chris is indeed, my younger brother.
Chris has always been athletic and somehow, he got all the height in the family. He’s been playing baseball at Holy Cross for the past two years and he’s been the starting shortstop (SS) from the very beginning. While he’s had his fair share of injuries and few ups and a few downs, he’s consistently improved and even ended up leading the patriot league in batting average (during interleague play) this past season. Unlike my brother, this blog is going to be short. It’ll be about why I’m so proud of my little brother and what I think the world can learn from the way he plays baseball.
With the craziness that comes with graduate school and the distance between Philadelphia and Boston, I don’t get the opportunity to watch my brother play as much as I would like. However, back in April I was able to make a game against Lehigh and I was thoroughly impressed. I watched my brother play great in the field and go 7-10 with 6 RBIs (for those of you who don’t know baseball, that’s pretty darn good). I was happy for my brother that he played well, but I would have been just as proud of him if he struck out ten times. You might think that’s a weird thing to say, but let me explain.
Baseball is a tough sport. Among other things, it requires athleticism and crazy amounts of hand-eye coordination. If you don’t believe me just think about the fact that, depending on the speed of the ball, a batter has sometimes less than 125ms to decide whether to swing or not… and then they also have to actually hit the ball… in play… and not get out. Oh, and reaction time aside, a player also has to decide what pitch the pitcher is throwing and where it will be located. Take all that into account and it makes sense that even the best baseball players on the planet go into some serious slumps. As a result, baseball, more than most sports, is a game where success can’t be determined from short term outcomes.
The process is always more important than the product.
Like I was saying, my brother could have put out a bad product (played “poorly” by objective measures) and I would still be proud of him because of the way that he attacked the process (the way he prepared for the game, the effort he gave and the way he carried himself). In other words:
I was most proud of my brother for the things that don’t show up on the stat sheet.
I was proud as I watched him hustle and give his best effort all the time, no matter the circumstances. While it may go unnoticed by 99.9% of spectators, a smile swept across my face each inning as I watched him sprint on and off the field. I was proud as I watched him encourage his teammates and lead by example. Chris, even as a lower classman, leads with his actions and his teammates follow. I was proud as I thought about all of the early mornings, late nights and countless hours of hard work and preparation that my brother put into the game he loves.
My brother has sacrificed a lot to get to where he is and he’s invested tremendous amounts of time into the process. I’d like to think that I taught my brother (along with my dad, who obviously taught me… but that’s a topic for another time) what he knows about hard work, effort, commitment, leadership, and much more. However, as much as I talk about these things and apply them to my own life, it felt good to see my brother integrating them into baseball. Having played sports I know that these things will carry over into all aspects of Chris’ life.
I’m so incredibly proud of my little brother both on and off of the diamond, but most of all, I’m so proud of my brother for the great young man he’s becoming.
I hope that hearing about the way my brother plays baseball gives you some inspiration for whatever it is you’re chasing right now. No matter what it is, focus on the process; put in the work and give your best effort, always. I also hope that this blog doesn’t go to Chris’ head – if you’re reading this (I sure hope you are), keep up the great work and know how proud I am of you.
Chris graduates college today (5.22.20) and I couldn’t be more proud of the young man who he is and the person that he is becoming. His dedicated work ethic, genuine compassion, strong leadership and enduring drive inspire me to be better myself. Even though the circumstances surrounding his graduation are unusual (thanks COVID), I know that this is just the start of bigger and better things and I’m so excited to see where life takes Chris.
Chris is playing his first games for the University of Richmond where he is attending graduate school for his MBA. He is able to play another year because his final year of eligibility in undergrad wasn’t used thanks to COVID. In similar tone with the rest of this blog, I’m so proud of how Chris handled the loss of his senior year and how he continues to embrace the circumstances that he faces with drive, steadfast commitment and consistent hard work.
The two things that we all have full control over are attitude (perspective) and effort (actions); both of these things are governed by our choices. Take pride in these things. Take pride in the process. Keep a positive attitude. Find the good. Love other people. Do the right thing. Give it all you’ve got and nobody can take anything away from you.
Thank you for reading!
Joe Rinaldi, PT, DPT