Just as it is possible to draw analogies from any one thing to any other if you try hard enough and gloss over the points where the comparisons break down, there are a lot of lessons about life that can be learned from a game of softball.
First, teamwork wins.
There are 10 people on the field at any given time. No one person can carry the entire team on his or her back, but must have coordination and cooperation from everyone else.
Though it's on the basketball court, and not the softball field, there are few better examples of this than with Lakeside High School star Earl McCrommen. As good as he is, the diminutive player couldn't keep the Panthers from losing all but one game this year.
That applies to everything else: community, school, business, church. While there can always be a great game or a great play because of one star, you won't get sustained success from any team when no one else helps out.
Second, getting a base hit beats popping out.
Moderate success beats spectacular failure. We can, of course, learn from failures -- but they're still failures. Far better to take a modest swing and drop a hit into shallow centerfield than to try to knock the cover off the ball and drop it into the centerfielder's glove.
Third, diversification is important.
The loss of a key player can mean game over if no one else on the team can play that position. Diversity does no one any good if it is designed only to flesh out a racial rainbow, and doesn't extend to skills and interests. A workplace can have every color, creed, religion and nationality represented, but if the only guy who knows how to unlock the front door calls in sick, there won't be much work done.
So, you're probably wondering, what the heck is he writing all this stuff for? Is this all of a sudden turning into a leadership seminar?
No, it's just a way of getting something useful out of bragging about the Augusta Print All-Stars "celebrity" softball team beating the feathers out of everyone else in the Augusta media.
Our team, made up of front-line people from two magazines and two newspapers, beat an intimidating-looking team of cable guys (and they were all guys, not a girl on the team), and then thumped the winner of the radio vs. TV game on Sunday at Lake Olmstead Stadium.
The game was a charity fund-raiser for the CSRA Humane Society, put together by Angela Hillesland, the public relations person for Jim Hudson Lexus. Our print team won the first tournament with two back-to-back 17-0 games, prompting whining from the electronic media that our team was stacked with "ringers."
This year, then, we made sure all our folks were real, honest-to-goodness media people with recognizable names. We beat the swing-for-the-fences cable team 20-5 (see analogy No. 2), ending the game on a literal "mercy rule" when their pitcher popped his Achilles tendon (see analogy No. 3). Then we pounded the television team 17-2, taking full advantage of fielding miscues (see analogy No. 1).
There should be just one more life-lesson, then, that we can get from this softball game in particular: If, after all the pre-game trash-talk our media team beats your media team like a rented mule two years in a row, we get to bray about it mercilessly.
Lewis joins 500 club
One guy who really deserves to brag, but doesn't, is Harlem High School baseball coach Jimmie Lewis. This past week he joined a rare group of coaches with 500 wins.
Lewis started coaching in 1979, the same year I graduated from Harlem. He's done one heckuva job in those 26 years, and along the way, he says, learned that it really is about having fun.
There's another great lesson: Success is sweeter if you're having fun. Congratulations, coach!
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to email@example.com.)
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