When Second-Best Is Good Enough

27 Mar

League championship game, 1960, Tacoma Little League Babe Ruth . . .

My team, the Pythias Giants (I’m being dead serious) against the League powerhouse Cheney Lumberjacks.  I was pitching for Pythias and Don Carlson for Cheney.

I pitched a hell of a game.  Gave up a run in the 5th inning and another in the 7th, both on broken bat hits, dying quails we used to call them, those agonizing little floaters that just make it to the outfield, out of reach of an infielder’s glove.  Cheney managed a grand total of three hits off of me.  I struck out twelve, my nasty knuckleball dancing like a ballerina.

We lost 2-0!

Don Carlson no-hit us!

I was totally dejected riding home with my dad who, to his credit, allowed me to wallow in self-pity for a full ten minutes before he had had enough.

“Bill,” he said.  “There is always going to be someone better than you.  That’s a fact of life there is no escaping.  So that leaves you two choices, or so it seems to me.  You  can either work your butt off to get better, knowing you’ll never be the best but still able to play the game you love, or you can take that glove of yours down to Goodwill and let some underprivileged kid use it.  Let me know now, though, before we get home, so I can swing you by Goodwill if that’s your decision.”

Those words are still with me fifty-eight years later, and they apply to so many of my pursuits in life. I am never going to be the best writer, but I can become a pretty damned good writer.  The best husband?  Father?  Friend?

Where’s that old glove of mine?  I need to practice some more.


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

16 Responses to “When Second-Best Is Good Enough”

  1. Janine Huldie March 27, 2018 at 1:54 pm #

    Aw, absolutely great advice from your dad and thank you for sharing it here with us today. Happy Tuesday now, Bill 🙂

    • Billybuc March 27, 2018 at 1:56 pm #

      Thank you Janine! You were quick today. Have a great Tuesday my friend.

  2. Greg Boudonck March 27, 2018 at 2:00 pm #

    Well spoken by a damn good writer. But I bet I can hit your knuckleball. LOL.

    Thanks Bill… Great inspiration for this day!

    • Billybuc March 27, 2018 at 2:51 pm #

      Greg, I bet I can’t even throw it any longer. lol thanks buddy!

  3. Mike March 27, 2018 at 2:19 pm #

    Hello Bill – Baseball offers so many lessons. No way you should lose a game pitching a three hitter. It had to be a championship game to boot. S.O.B.

    • Billybuc March 27, 2018 at 2:52 pm #

      SOB for sure, Mike! God I was pissed! Pissed enough to remember it fifty years later.

  4. 1authorcygnetbrown March 27, 2018 at 7:01 pm #

    As an author, I don’t think that I have ever been in competition with anyone else. The only person that I want to be better than is the person that I was yesterday and the day before that.

    • Billybuc March 27, 2018 at 7:08 pm #

      Nice, Donna! It’s an interesting viewpoint. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Sageleaf March 28, 2018 at 2:25 am #

    Big Bro, you have this magical way of relating these stories. Your dad sounds like he was level-headed and didn’t put up with too much crap. However, he also had compassion just as he had high expectations of all those around him. Such fun stories and it’s incredible that you remember these lessons so well. You’re pretty awesome, Big Bro and have some incredible lessons and insights to share.

    • Billybuc March 28, 2018 at 1:40 pm #

      Lil Sis, I grew up around storytellers, so thankfully some of it rubbed off on me. Thank you for your kindness and for just being you.

  6. phoenix2327 March 28, 2018 at 8:43 pm #

    Yes, there is always going to be someone better than you at something, which means there’s probably someone out there who thinks you’re better than they are at something. Maybe we should all get together and learn from each other to be the best we can at whatever that something is. Hey, it beats sitting on the pity pot. 😀

    • Billybuc March 29, 2018 at 1:45 pm #

      What a novel idea, Zulma…get along together? Is that possible? Are we capable of it as a species? Sigh!

      • phoenix2327 March 29, 2018 at 4:02 pm #

        We can hope, right? We allowed that at least. 🙂

      • Billybuc March 29, 2018 at 4:26 pm #

        I don’t want to live in a world devoid of hope, Zulma.

  7. Melanie March 30, 2018 at 10:13 am #

    Such great advice from your Dad, here Bill and something that resonates with me sooooo much. Being a perfectionist (recovering one… trying!) and really ambitious is hard. In school, I was pretty average. C+ student. But, when I hit 29 and switched careers to writing and being creative, something inside me changed. I got competitive. Meek and mild me. It’s been an interesting few years, figuring out ways to balance the ambition without getting overwhelmed. “Good enough” – I won’t lie, it’s something that doesn’t come easy to me as I always want to make things better and tweak, tweak, tweak. So, I needed to read this. Easy for me to give advice, hard to follow my own sometimes. Thanks for sharing friend! Hope you’re having a wonderful long weekend. 🙂

    • Billybuc March 30, 2018 at 1:43 pm #

      Mel, you and I would have competed in school for the most average grades. LOL I have always been competitive but not in school. I just couldn’t care less about those grades. Anyway, I appreciate you being here…thank you!

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