“Love it and learn it.” – Tony LaRussa
Growing up, I loved the Oakland Athletics. Rickey Henderson was and remains one of my favorite players of all-time. While everyone enjoyed The Bash Brothers slamming home runs into the upper decks of whatever stadium they were in (you can say what you want about PEDS, but we all enjoyed it then), I loved watching Rickey work counts, draw walks, hit lead off homers, and blaze around the bases in his neon green Mizuno batting gloves. Because I followed the A’s so closely, I also became a fan of their manager, Tony LaRussa.
LaRussa led my childhood Athletics to three straight World Series appearances. That streak resulted in my cringing every time I see a replay of the Kirk Gibson home run off Dennis Eckersley (yes, the one he hit on one foot), elating when the A’s swept the San Francisco Giants in the 1989 Battle of the Bay (the earthquake series), and crying (a lot!) when Todd Benzinger caught the final out of the Cincinnati Reds 1990 sweep in Oakland. (Note: I also cried a lot when the Reds won Game 1 in Cincinnati, which I attended in full Oakland gear.)
As I listened to LaRussa deliver his Hall of Fame induction speech on Sunday, I pulled out some notes I took when he spoke in January at the ABCA Convention in Dallas. The above quote was one I had starred in my notes then and one that he mentioned on Sunday. I began to think about how simple of a philosophy this would be for all of us.
What do you love? What are your passions?
It may be our job. It may be a sport. It may be a historical event. It may be an idea we first heard about in a book or class. It may be something we have seen someone else do. It may be a person or persons. But, we all have things we love and about which we are passionate.
Do we take those things for granted? Do we really seek them out as often as we want? Are we learning as much as we can about those things?
Loving and learning go hand in hand. If we truly love something, we should want to learn as much about it as we possibly can. That learning only continues to foster more love, and the cycle continues.
LaRussa expressed this message in January and again on Sunday. As he began his Major League coaching career, he developed a passion for baseball. Because of this, he sought out ways to learn more about it. He learned from its history; he learned from fellow coaches and players; he learned from studying his notes and replaying games and situations he had just managed. This passion and his desire to continually learn earned him recognition for his in-game strategy and management of bullpens, which ultimately culminated with his induction in Cooperstown.
The Oakland A’s teams of my childhood provide some of the early memories of my love for baseball. Great pitching, tremendous power, solid defense, and incredible speed. Those teams lit a spark in me for something that I loved. I have not stopped learning about baseball since, whether through playing or coaching. That love and learning has taken me to places that I never imagined, all because I pursued one of my passions.
We all have things we love. Oftentimes, we make excuses for why we do not get to spend as much time as we would like doing those things. Find some time. Make some time. Do the things you love. Learn the things you love. You never know where that passion may take you.
Bring your best today!