It was an unusually warm Saturday in early June of 1990; Larry had already graduated from high school and attended his senior prom. Larry was a little different from most graduating seniors; he had big plans, big-league plans to be exact.
Larry was one of the most sought-after high-school athletes in the country. He was among a handful of players that hoped to be selected in Major League Baseball’s amateur draft right out of high school. He was a switch-hitting shortstop with soft hands and a strong arm. His high school game that day had attracted a swarm of big-league scouts. They holed up in motels as far as 30 miles away anxious to get a look at Larry on the field.
Imagine his disappointment, as all the scouts show up to watch him play, as he strikes out not once but four times! He fails utterly. What was going to happen to all his plans, his future?
One scout rushed back to his hotel and called his general manager that he absolutely had to draft Larry with their first pick of the 1st round. Why? Why on earth would they take a player that struck out four times? For this one simple reason: Larry showed the same “face” when he struck out as he did when hitting a home run. Bottom line: He handled failure professionally in a game that has a lot of it (7 of 10 at bats result in failure).
What can we learn from Larry’s story? How do we handle failures? Some people deflate in shame, some explode in anger; still others blame someone else every time. What’s your attitude when you make a mistake?
I believe his story holds one of the keys to developing a prosperous economic direction for our county. A vital element in our success in Tama County is how we handle failure. Every failure gives you the opportunity to move forward. Every failure should teach us lessons and make us stronger, wiser and better the next time.
So what happened with Larry’s baseball career? Turned out the scout was right. He ended his career with the most career RBIs for a third baseman. He is also behind only Eddie Murray on the all-time switch hitters career RBI list. He is considered one of the best switch hitters in the history of the game, and he is the only switch hitter in MLB history to have both a career batting average of at least .300 and 400 or more home runs.
Oh, in case you are wondering Larry was better known by his nickname “Chipper” yes, Chipper Jones of the Atlanta Braves – eight-time All-Star and 1995 World Champion. On June 28, 2013, Larry’s number 10 was retired by the Braves and he was inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame. Not bad ending for a high school senior that once struck out four times.