At 6:30 on a Tuesday night I walked into Denny’s Resturant to have dinner alone and sulk. I had a tough day attempting to get certified as a contract trainer and was physically, emotionally and spiritually drained. All I wanted was a plate of hotcakes and to be left alone.
Sitting in my booth, reflecting on the day and forcing back tears, I pulled my book out of my briefcase and started reading. I think I was silently hoping that if I were going to cry in public that I could at least hide behind the pages of a book written by all-time manly man, Mickey Mantle. It seemed to be working well enough until I reached a passage that stopped me cold.
Mickey was telling a story about this first year in the minor leagues when he hit his first real slump. You see, Mickey was born to play baseball. His father was a semi-pro player that named his son after his favorite player, Mickey Cochran. Mutt Mantle taught his son to switch hit at an early age and love the game of baseball. From the first time he picked up the bat, people were in awe at how great he seemed to be. He was a natural.
That was until he got to Class D Ball in Kansas City. It was in that league that Mickey wasn’t feasting on farm boys throwing fastballs anymore. He was going up against professionals who were talented too and he was struggling.
It got so bad that he called home and told his dad that he wanted to quit. Reading these words, sitting in a Kansas City Denny’s I knew exactly how he must have felt. Mickey tells the story of his father driving all the way to Independence Kansas, slapping him and saying, “I thought I raised a ballplayer, but you’re nothing but a coward and quitter.”
Mantle wrote “I expected him to say, ‘Hang in there’ or something like that. It took me an hour to talk him into giving me another chance!”
Reading that passage at that moment, I felt Mutt Mantle sitting across from me. I felt my own father looking at me feeling sorry for myself. I felt like Mickey must have. I felt silly and ashamed.
Reading that passage got me ready to go back to work. I found a new level of inspiration that the most naturally gifted baseball player of all time wanted to quit but stuck it out. If Mickey could figure it out, I could too.
As I stood at the register, paying my bill, I heard Carly Simon on the radio singing Nobody Does It Better and my crushed confidence came to life. I might not be the Mickey Mantle of speaking and there might be those that do it better than I do, but for that moment, I found myself and I have Mickey Mantle and Carly Simon to thank for it.