“Duck walks give you a good base. If you have no base, your house will fall down. No house should ever fall down.” – Henry Jones
With all due respect to Ken Griffey, Jr. and Torii Hunter, Andruw Jones is the greatest defensive centerfielder that I ever got to see play (in person or on TV). With all due respect to Willie Mays, Duke Snider, and Mickey Mantle, Andruw Jones is the greatest defensive centerfielder that ever played the game (and perhaps the greatest outfielder period!). Some may remember Jones for stepping onto the scene in 1996 and becoming the youngest player to ever homer in a World Series game. (He did so at 19 years, 5 months, 28 days of age in Yankee Stadium. Actually, he homered in his first two World Series at-bats.) Atlanta fans certainly remember the 2005 season where he clubbed a franchise record 51 home runs en route to a runner-up MVP finish. However, the majority will likely remember him for the nonchalant way he recorded putout after putout by catching the ball near his waist. He made everything look routine–sometimes, too much so.
Because, for him, it was.
Television never did Andruw Jones justice. Sure, you could find his highlight catches on Baseball Tonight or Sportscenter, but most of the time, all casual viewers got to see was Jones drifting under a ball making his seemingly lackadaisical catches. They missed the work he put in prior to costing under his most recent routine play.
The cameras do not show the work. In the second or two it takes the camera to shift from the batter to tracking the ball, Andruw Jones has put in his work. He has read the pitcher’s sign to know what is coming, gauged where the fly ball is heading, and began his sprint to the spot. By the time we catch up with him, he has relocated the ball and is catching it as easily as possible. The cameras, and thus we, missed the work.
The work began with the duck walk. The work began on the Curacao beaches. The work began when Andruw was a young boy. The work began with his father.
At a young age, Henry Jones, Andruw’s father (also a centerfielder), took him to the beaches of his native Curacao and hit him fly ball after fly ball. Barefoot in the sand, Andruw would track the balls in the wind. Every day was windy on the Curacao beaches. The wind never sleeps, some would say. It made a breezy day at Wrigley Field a walk in the park. If he did not catch the ball, his father made him duck walk. Andruw and his father competed in everything. The loser always duck walked.
My point in telling this story is that we must train for our own success. We must prepare for the opportunities that we want so we can take advantage of them when they arrive. We must put in the necessary work off camera, so that everything looks routine on camera.
Too often, we want all of the glory with none of the work. We want to have things given to us, or we feel entitled. We have these dreams about which we are passionate, yet we do not want to get our hands dirty to achieve them.
We refuse to do the duck walk.
How are you going to lay the foundation for your success? Are you willing to get your hands dirty to pursue your passions? Will you be committed to building a solid base?
Developing our core takes hard work. Shaping our character requires intentional commitment and dedication. Becoming the best version of ourselves comes from constant preparation and trust in the process.
Andruw Jones did not become the greatest centerfielder in the game overnight. He did not win 10-straight Gold Glove awards because he was entitled. He was not the youngest player in MLB history to homer in the playoffs by accident.
He worked. He trained. He prepared.
He duck walked.
Bring your best today!