I have a weird relationship with baseball. Sometimes I think it is boring and overrated. Other times? A game of subtlety and magic full of life lessons and beautiful metaphors. I always love its stories. Yesterday it gave us a classic.
Growing up Daniel Nava was often told that he was ‘too small’ to achieve his goals as an athlete. He was cut from his college baseball team but wanted to play so much that he stayed on as an equipment manager , sometimes heading to the local laundromat at 3:00 am to wash team uniforms.
There are people who don’t believe that passion, hard work and discipline can overcome almost anything. If any of them are Red Sox fans, yesterday in Boston’s Fenway Park, during his first major league “at bat,” Daniel Nava made believers out of them. And, on the way to that moment, some very cool things happened.
First, he was interviewed by longtime Red Sox radio announcer Joe Castiglione. Either just before or just after the interview Castiglione gave the young player a piece of advice about that first trip to the plate as a major league ballplayer. “Swing at the first pitch — you’ll never get it back.”
I imagine the butterflies were the size of 737s as Nava was headed to the on-deck circle. He asked Sox manager Terry Francona “Where are my parents sitting?” On a local interview after the game Francona told the reporter that he’d said something along the lines of ‘don’t worry about that — just get up there and get a hit.’
Got it? Too small. Passion and hard work. Called up to the majors. Fenway Park and all of its history. First at-bat. Bases loaded. “Swing at the first pitch” and “just get a hit” ringing in his head.
So he did.
He swung at the first pitch ever thrown to him by a major league pitcher — and connected for a grand slam home run.
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