Cooperstown, N.Y., turned into Atlanta North on Sunday for the Baseball Hall of Fame inductions. With former Atlanta Braves pitchers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine entering the hall along with longtime Braves manager Bobby Cox, the Atlanta contingent was understandable.
There are a lot of things that come with going into the Hall of Fame — a parade, a ring and the bronze plaque that boasts of the person’s achievements. But while watching the speeches, it occurred to me that maybe the most special perk of making the hall is the very public opportunity to thank those who helped along the way.
Those parts of each speech were very moving, with the men thanking their wives, parents, families and others who helped them along the way. What an opportunity to profess your thanks and love in such a way. Can you imagine getting to do that for your wife or parents or family?
When Glavine talked about his parents setting an example for him to follow and live up to, it was more than a little emotional. The speech of each honoree was very distinctive, but all carried similar themes of thankfulness, love of family and appreciation for people in the industry (in this case, baseball) taking the time to help, tutor and believe in them.
In short, the speeches are a reminder that you don’t get anywhere in the world without some help. At least not any place good.
To be fair, the Hall of Fame is a little different. You need talent in addition to support. My parents loved me very, very much, but that did little to help me hit the curveball. And they always believed in me, which lead me to some good things if not the big leagues.
The single-mindedness needed to succeed at the highest levels of professional sports reminds me of a story I read about golfer Davis Love III. Love’s focus on golf was so narrow, the story said, that if he withdrew from a tournament he wouldn’t think to tell his caddie, who might show up only to find out his boss was not playing. So they put a person in Love’s camp in charge of contacting the caddie if Love wasn’t playing, the thought being something akin to “Davis needs to concentrate on golf. We’ll worry about the other things.”
We all know “the other things” are as important as hitting with runners in scoring position or making a 3-pointer under pressure. Sunday’s speeches indicate that fact is not lost on elite athletes. It takes a village not only to raise a child, but to make a ballplayer. Or banker, teacher or fireman. To make a success.
The Hall of Fame, along with the chance to share such public thankfulness, is for a hallowed few. But appreciation of the help, love and kindness of others is not.
You may never get the chance to profess your thanks on national television, but nothing’s stopping you from doing it in person. And if you take the time to do so, both you and the person you tell may end up feeling like Hall of Famers.
Email Todd Cline at email@example.com. His column appears on Wednesdays.