Today I want to tell you a story.
The setting: a baseball diamond in Marshall, Michigan. The regional championship game between my grandfather’s team, the Grossi Nationals, and a rival team from Ypsilanti. The winning team would advance to the prestigious Connie Mack World Series in Farmington, New Mexico. The stakes were high.
At 13 years old, I was too young to play. But I was part of the team as bat boy, so I saw everything that unfolded up close and personal.
At the bottom of the seventh, we were winning by one run. Two outs, runners on second and third. Our pitcher, Jim Abbott, just needed one more strike. He threw the ball and the batter got a base hit. We lost the game.
But that wasn’t what stuck in my mind. It’s not nice to lose, but it’s a part of sports. What stuck in my mind was the way the rival team acted after their victory. They had been cocky and arrogant since they arrived, and it only got worse after they won. They ran onto the field, knocking our players and fans over and giving us the bird. It was so unsportsmanlike, it was hard to believe. It took 15 minutes for everything to calm down.
It flipped a switch inside me. I knew I had to play on my grandfather’s team. I knew I had to beat this team from Ypsilanti and put them in their place. I told their coach as much. He just looked at me, a 13-year-old kid, and laughed it off.
For the next five years, I visualized what it would look like to play on my grandfather’s team and beat those guys from Ypsilanti. I imagined how I would feel when the victory finally came. I did this every day and at every practice. I played it over and over in my head like a tape on a loop. I could feel it. I could taste it. I had that moment in mind, and it held onto me.
To say I was committed is an understatement.
The day came. I was pitching in the regional tournament against – that’s right – Ypsilanti. They had to win two games to keep us from the championship. In our first game, we were down eight runs at the top of the third. Of course, I always wanted to do my best in every game, but this game was different. I had something to prove. This time, it was personal.
And I pitched like I never had before. I ended up pitching a no-hitter for the rest of the game. We beat Ypsilanti! We were headed to the Connie Mack World Series.
What I visualized came true. All that time, all that energy, directed on this one outcome, and it all came to fruition. That’s what the power of commitment can do to help you achieve your dreams. Not interest. Interest is something that keeps you going until things get tough or boring. But commitment. Commitment is what sees you through the dark times because you know that the end result is worth striving for.
At the end of the game, I went up to the coach of the losing team. It was the same one I talked to five years ago. I asked him if he remembered me. “You’re that bat boy,” he said, incredulously. “Yes,” I grinned, “I am.”