Baseball: where failure is success

José Bautista - Dunedin 2011

One of the things I love most about baseball is what it teaches about the dangers of perfectionism.

To be considered a very good hitter in baseball, a player carries a batting average of .300 or higher. One out of every three times he goes to bat, he gets a hit. And two out of every three times, he fails.

Ty Cobb holds the record for the highest all-time batting average at .366. The best hitter in the history of baseball failed at the plate almost two-thirds of the time.

How do you feel when two-thirds of your endeavours fail? Do you label yourself a loser and give up? Baseball teaches perseverance and big-picture thinking that dilute the poison of perfectionism. Baseball teaches that occasional miscalculated swings, short strides, or lapses in good judgement do not define a person: a body of work does.

If the professional baseball players of today had bought into the myth of perfectionism when they grounded out to first base as Little Leaguers, then we wouldn’t be able to watch people like the 2011 American League Home Run Leader, José Bautista, blast another homer out of the park. (Career average .254. He has failed at the plate three-quarters of the time.) Or see how the 2011 American League Batting Champion, Miguel Cabrera, magically gets himself on base again. (Career average .317. He has failed at the plate two-thirds of the time.)

Lessons for everyday people live in this beautiful aspect of baseball. If we carry a .300 average for our parental decisions, encounters with a person in need, or negotiations with neighbours , we are probably doing all right.

After all, there’s nothing to be gained from hanging up the cleats and never stepping up to the plate again.

2 thoughts on “Baseball: where failure is success

  1. debra mckune

    Insightful and inspiring post! I absolutely love baseball and its life lessons. In the words of Annie Savoy (from the movie, Bull Durham), “I see great things in baseball. It’s our game, the American game. It will repair our losses and be a blessing to us.”

    1. Arlene Post author

      I love that movie, too. They use the phrase, “the church of baseball” in that movie, and some days it feels that way to me. I’m a Canadian who loves the American game, but it’s just not the same here for us as hockey. We’re working on it . . .


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