Nine Principles of Baseball and Life
by Raymond Angelo Belliotti
Baseball is about parents taking their children to local fields
and teaching them the sport. Baseball is about the bonding of
parents and children in the context of 150 years of history
and the excitement of the infinite possibilities of summer.
Baseball is about preseason practices, with everyone playing
a variety of positions, no one keeping score, everyone energized,
yelling, and engaged. Baseball is passing down an American legacy,
reinforcing family love, teaching values and a way of life,
sharing joy and triumph, sorrow and defeat. Baseball can illustrate
and enhance the meaning in our lives. Baseball is only a distant
cousin to organized games, all star tournaments, or names appearing
in the local sports pages.
My Sicilian parents taught me values about life that are applicable
to playing baseball. My father made it clear: if I acted inappropriately
on a baseball field, no umpire, no coach, no league official
would have to intervene. He would run onto the field himself
and physically drag me off. He was not in attendance to be embarrassed
by a son who had not learned proper values. The most important
rule: approach any task with great enthusiasm, a positive attitude,
and with appreciation for the opportunity to participate. My
9 principles of baseball are more fundamentally 9 principles
of living a rewarding life.
1. NO EXCUSES.
Do not blame teammates, umpires, coaches, fans, or the position
of the moon for your performance. Take responsibility for what
happens on the field. Stand up, make no excuses, refuse the
excuses that others might offer you. Excuses get in the way
of learning because mistakes are denied. Be accountable. Remember
you are not expected to be a perfect performer. No one is. Baseball
is not an easy game to play.
2. PLAY WITH HONOR.
Always hustle, run out every ground ball and pop up, encourage
your teammates, especially after an error, bad pitch, or a strike
out, carry yourself with pride and dignity. Do not in frustration
throw equipment. Do not ridicule another team or an opposing
player’s name, physical appearance, skill. Do not taunt.
Do not distract an opposing player with low-level antics. Be
positive with teammates. Never ridicule or criticize your teammates.
They need your encouragement the most immediately after they
have made a mistake. Show your teammates, your opponents, the
entire world the values you hold dear by how you play.
3. BE RELENTLESS.
Never Yield. Never Yield. Regardless of what the scoreboard
says, you are never defeated unless you give up, unless you
go belly up. No opponent can make you do this. Giving up is
something you do. Regardless of what the scoreboard says, no
opponent can extinguish the flame in your heart or crush the
intensity of your will without your consent. Never surrender.
4. SLAY YOUR OWN DEMONS, THEN SLAY DRAGONS.
Ignore those things outside your control: the judgments of umpires,
the conduct and ability of other teams, the weather, your amount
of playing time, the final score (this is a tough one). Do not
show frustration or disappointment. Do not allow your opponents
to gain joy from your inability to cope with self-pity. Do not
throw equipment or whine in anger or slump your shoulders. Such
behavior impresses no one. Maintain your poise. Learn, prepare,
and focus on the next event. We cannot change the past. Instead,
we should focus on the next action with determination, joy,
5. TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THOSE THINGS UNDER YOUR CONTROL.
Your effort, your attitude, your commitment, and your approach
to the game are under your control. Be enthusiastic, play with
great effort, conduct yourself appropriately, meet this opportunity
with great joy. Listen to your coaches. Be alert, play smartly,
know the signs. You are always accountable. How you react to
situations and circumstances reveals the person you are and
the person you might become.
6. PLAY THE GAME ONE PITCH AT A TIME.
Focus on the current pitch. If you are a pitcher, what are you
throwing now and where? If you are a fielder, what are you going
to do if the ball is hit to you? If you are a base-runner, what
are you going to do on a fly ball, line drive, ground ball,
to the right side, to the left side? If you are a batter, what
are you trying to accomplish on this pitch? If you are on the
bench, how are you helping your team be successful?
7. FOCUS ON BEHAVIOR, NOT OUTCOMES.
The results of your performance are not fully under your control.
The other team may be very good, or very bad. The bounces may
go your way, or not. But your behavior and approach are under
your control. At the end of the game, you, perhaps only, know
whether you gave 100%, whether you did all you could to help
your team. Those players who did are winners, those players
who did not are losers, regardless of what the scoreboard says.
Winners take care of the things within their control, enjoy
their participation, and are justifiable proud of their effort.
Losers make excuses, lose their poise readily, wallow in self-pity,
and surrender at the slightest sign of adversity.
8. THE BEST PLAYERS ARE THE BEST LEARNERS.
Players who are coach-able are always trying to learn more about
being successful ballplayers and people. They listen and apply
what their coaches and teachers suggest. Are you coach-able?
If you are, you are a winner. If you are not, you are a loser,
regardless of what the scoreboard says.
9. BE A JOYOUS WARRIOR!
Be enthusiastic, positive, give 100%, understand that relentless
effort in the pursuit of excellence is its own reward. The joyous
warrior exemplifies the slogan “No Retreat & No Surrender.”
Win with humility, lose with dignity.