Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Showing Up

This piece was published a couple of days ago at the M Street Softball League website. Since I can't expect you to be as much of a mens fast-pitch softball nut as I am, I'm assuming you may not have seen it there. I think it makes a good point, and I've been told by many of my fellow players that they agree with the sentiments expressed. So, here it is and I hope you enjoy it.

Me, 2004, when I played for Sidewalk Cafe in the M Street Softball League [photo: Mark Senna]

With the accumulated wisdom that comes from having been on this planet for 57 years, I decided to play in three mens fast-pitch softball leagues this year. I think I mentioned that I'm 57 years old? What I haven't told you yet is that I'm a catcher. My knees write nasty letters to my brain after each game. They say, "What were you thinking? Next time, use yourself!" My brain ignores them, of course, because it's just a knee-jerk reaction.

Anyway, these aren't "over 50" leagues I'm in. They're mostly populated by guys in their twenties and thirties; folks who are at least relatively in shape and, unlike me, don't need a calendar to time them when they run the bases. The interesting thing is two of my teams are in their first year of existence and I was actually recruited to play on those two teams (I've been a member of the other team for 20 years.)

Obviously, 57-year-old catchers with balky knees are not usually in high demand. I also have a torn rotator cuff, so my arm stinks. In addition, my batting average drops closer to my weight with each passing year. So, why did the guys who run those two teams ask me to be a part of them (I mean, aside from my sparkling personality?) It's because I show up.

Showing up is the most important thing you can do in some of life's endeavors. If you can be relied upon, that makes up for many a sin. No matter what other problems a coach may have, he knows he can always count on me being there. That's important. Lots of better players in these leagues don't always show up. Sure, if you put me up against some of those guys, both of us available to play, you'd put the other guy on the field and I'd (rightly) take a seat on the pine. But I'm always there. When that other guy doesn't show up, I'm ready to go. That's why coaches still consider me valuable at my ancient-for-ball age. I show up.

There are folks in every walk of life who do the same. They show up, every day, ready to give it their best shot. Most of them do so in much tougher circumstances than being a softball bum like me. They push a broom, lug stuff, clean floors and do the dirty work. They flip burgers, drive deliveries, dig ditches and haul crates from one end of the warehouse to another. They show up and do the job. Ask any employer how highly they value that trait. It might be the first thing on the list. Hell, if you don't show up, what value do you bring to the table? None. You aren't even at the table.

If you're one of those folks who does the tough jobs, keep that in mind. Showing up will pay off. It might not reward you immediately, but it will earn you respect sooner or later. I've never been the best player on any team for which I've played, but of all my teammates from thirty years ago I'm the only one still playing - and still being asked to play. It's because I show up.

And I'll be showing up here again, soon, with more better stuff.


Yogi♪♪♪ said...

I work with lots of young people at work and one of the things I bore them to tears with is Life is All About Showing Up.

Tabor said...

This is a valuable attribute and I wonder if we have new generations who value it? We are being invaded by people from other countries who show up and show up big time!

Craig said...

You remind me of my favorite historico-political aphorism: "The future belongs to those who show up for it." (Heh-heh)

It's also been said that 90% of success in life is just showing up. And I've played enough softball games with 8 guys on my team to understand the value of it.

And, can I say that I'm a little in awe that you're still playing at your advanced age? And you're playing fast-pitch; my reflexes probably aren't quick enough to even get around on the pitches.

I can still play slow-pitch, altho I'm finding that the fence-busting power I had in my 30s ain't quite all that any more, and, as you say, my arm is mostly shot. But hey, first base, right?


(not necessarily your) Uncle Skip said...

Just reading this made my knees ache.
It also reminded me of how much I miss the camaraderie of the dugout.
I don't believe I ever missed a game except for that one time I was in Texas for a week.
I knew if I showed up I would play.

Buck said...

Showing up is the most important thing you can do in some of life's endeavors.

You and Woody Allen (apocryphally).

messymimi said...

Yes. It's what i've tried to teach my children. They do show up and do the work, and all of them are valued for it. Keep preaching this.

Anonymous said...

I love this post. You are absolutely right! Thanks for a blast of inspiration and encouragement, just when I needed it!

Jackie said...

I'm impressed with the skills and determination you have regardless of age. Factor in age, and I'm completely dumbfounded with what you do. :)
I hope that your knees and ankles are feeling better. I know that they have been bothering you.
As far as showing up, somebody raised you right! I'm proud of your work ethic....and your play ethic (is there such a thing?)
Take care of you, my friend.

Daryl said...

even if its about sports, even tho i am days late i am one of those who shows up .. cause you're my friend! xo

lime said...

showing up matters. it's letting your yes be yes and your no be no so people know they can trust your word and depend on you when you make a commitment.