I have a confession, of sorts, to make.
In the grand scheme of things it’s not terribly salacious (perhaps even trivial), and for those outside the U.S., unless you’re in a country where the sport is an institution, this may not even register as much of a confession.
I don’t really follow baseball.
To set the context for what I’m about to say, you do need to understand that to those that do follow baseball, it’s not just a game. It’s a passion. A religion. A metaphor for life, even.
So the recent tragic and premature passing of a retired MLB pitcher named Roy Halladay didn’t initially mean that much to me. I sort of knew the name. I understood he was in the tradition of some of those “eccentric” and colorful types who have emerged every now and again in Major League Baseball. Maybe not as unconventional as Bill “Spaceman” Lee, but something of an iconoclast, all the same.
Then I read Tom Verducci’s moving tribute in Sports Illustrated. Which, to give credit where it is due, I was directly by the great blog, The Daily Stoic, written by author Ryan Holiday. If you’re not familiar with his work, I think you ought to be. But that’s just me.
What truly registered about the character of Roy Halladay was his focus on his craft, his genuine humility, and his desire to be recognized for “doing the right thing” and leaving the world a better place, rather than securing his legacy or self-promoting at every opportunity. From what I’ve gathered, his idea of being an #influencer was based on what the Buddhists might call “right actions” and “right thought,” with no regard to pointing this out to others as a form of self-aggrandizement. He simply did. And trusted that in doing so this would quietly impact those with whom he came into contact and then ripple outwards.
This quote in the article, evidently in Roy’s voice and responding to his relatively low public profile, is what hit me like one of his famed fastballs:
“For me the satisfaction is always the competition, and the self-gratification knowing you did something to the best of your ability and I think that’s all it will ever be for me. It’s not ever going to be who knows me and what do they think about me. It’s ultimately going to come down to how I went about doing my job.”
That’s it, folks. It’s really about how we go about doing our jobs.
Not just what puts food on the table, and a roof over our heads, and maybe if we’re lucky provides for some material comforts and diversions, educational advancement and healthcare when we need it. I think he was speaking far more inclusively. He was referencing our jobs as humans. And everything that entails.
My condolences to the family and friends of this man that I never personally knew. I reckon, however, one of the greatest compliments and indications of respect that I can ever pay from afar is that after learning more about him, I wish that our paths might have crossed. If ever so briefly.
We all benefit when we cross paths with decent humans. Hopefully it inspires each of us, even if momentarily, to be a bit more decent.
We could use more decency in this world of ours.
And we certainly can use more quiet and humble people who spend less time talking about themselves, and more time making the world a better place.