Commander Surveys Upcoming Season and Says: "Play Ball!"
By Col. Greg Touhill, 81st Training Wing
/ Published April 17, 2008
KEESLER AFB, MISS. -- With spring training over, the new baseball season has begun and I'm excited about the prospects of my beloved Boston Red Sox in the upcoming year. They are a team that is a lot like the men and women here at Keesler: time-tested professionals used to success and willing to do what it takes to get the job done. Just like the Red Sox, those of us here at Keesler have a long season ahead of us, with challenges that come on a daily basis. It's been said that no team ever won the World Series in a single game, and similarly we have to face each of the challenges we encounter in this upcoming season as they come, one at a time, and do our best to overcome them.
For us to be successful in the season ahead Team Keesler needs to learn to work together, and we can take note that the most American game of baseball has a lot to say about working together. The great Babe Ruth (a former Red Sox before going to Yankees) once said: "You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don't play together, the club won't be worth a dime." Baseball teaches that through working together we can reach a common goal. Over a season you learn valuable skills working together, not only from the experience of winning but from sharing defeat as well. Overcoming shortcomings is something that can be accomplished through the advice and observations of our fellow team members, as well as personal efforts on our part.
Best Players Are "Coachable"
Another baseball analogy we can apply to Team Keesler is that the best ballplayers are the best learners. One aspect common to the best ballplayers is that they are always "coachable," always trying to learn more about being successful. They listen and apply what they hear from their fellow teammates and coaches to their conduct, and usually come out on top. But the game really isn't about winning and losing, it's about being able to walk off the field knowing you've given your all despite the outcome. The great Cleveland Indians (never a Red Sox, but I have his autograph anyway) pitcher Bob Feller put it this way: "Every day is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday's success or put its failure behind and start again. That's the way life is, with a new game every day, and that's the way baseball is."
The beauty of baseball is that when pursued full-speed, with relentless effort, you have the opportunity to pursue excellence, although you may not always hit the mark. This pursuit is its own reward, so we must strive to both win with humility and lose with dignity, and always remember that there is always a new game the next day. Baseball is a game that offers the unique opportunity for a single person to come to bat and make all the difference in the world. In parallel, here at Team Keesler, our mission cannot be sustained by a single person, but as individuals we have it within ourselves to stand out and make difference, both in our life and the lives of others. Jackie Robinson of the Brooklyn Dodgers (who was never a Red Sox, but I wish he was) puts it best: "A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives."
As of this writing, the Boston Red Sox are leading the American League East ahead of the dreaded Yankees, and I foresee another great season for them. I expect there are those of you who have your favorite teams that you'll root for over the next several months too. While America is so great we can disagree on which baseball team is the best, one thing we can all agree on is that Team Keesler has a great season ahead of us. It's been said that the difference between batting .250 and .300, which is the difference between playing in the bush leagues and playing in the big leagues, is just one extra hit a week--an extra hit at bat every week will land you in Fenway Park. The only way to get that extra hit a week is, as Hank Aaron (another great man whom the Red Sox should have signed) said simply is "to keep swinging." That's what I expect everyone on Team Keesler to do this season: keep swinging, strive for excellence in all you do and we will surely charge through the challenges ahead and end up on top of the standings as we reach our goals.