I believe in humility. I used to play baseball when I was younger, but it wasn’t until middle school and high school when I really took notice of my fellow teammates’ attitudes towards themselves. It wasn’t everybody, but some of them really took me by surprise with how full of themselves they were. It was hard not to notice, and equally hard not to think about because I was always asking myself why they chose to portray themselves in such a way.
I remember one day while I was thinking about this, a catchy phrase came to my mind and I wrote it down so I wouldn’t forget it. Sometimes, I wish I could have written it in big, bold letters on our dugout just as a reminder to some of the guys. It reads as follows: Don’t tell us in the dugout. Show us on the field. Chances are if you’re that good, we’ll all know it without you saying anything.
I’ve always liked the way that sounded. I appreciate the guys who just come back into the dugout after making a big play, receive their congratulatory high-fives, say thank you and sit down. They know they made a great play, as does everyone else who just witnessed it. There is no reason to brag about it. Don’t get me wrong, I get just as excited and proud of myself as anyone else would after doing something worthy of mention or notice, but there is a difference between getting excited and being arrogant.
I remember there were two pitchers on my high school team who were both overly proud of themselves and were not afraid to show it. One day during practice, the older one wanted to reminisce about how silly he made a batter look in a game that took place in the previous year. He began the conversation by saying, “Hey, remember how nasty my slider was that day. I made that kid look like a fool.” I wasn’t a part of the dialogue, but I can recall thinking that he was the one who looked foolish with that inflated head of his ready to burst. The other young man, who also likes to hear the sound of his own voice, once brought up a game in which he “dominated the other team” and had a handful of strikeouts. I’ve had my fare share of strikeouts during games, but I never bragged about it. The people who were actually there seeing it happen were good enough for me. It was just so distasteful to hear the language those two used to describe themselves. No one wants to listen to that.
When the older players would talk about their own success in such a way it would actually discourage me from talking to them at all. It was the humble guys who just went about their business and tried to help the team anyway they could who I felt more inclined to hang around with. Perhaps the arrogance displayed by the others had something to do with our young age at the time, but who knows what those guys would be like if I saw them today?