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Take Me Out To The Ballgame: A Moment With Bill Reflection

Updated on April 9, 2013

SET THE SCENE


Every day is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday's success or put its failures behind and start over again. That's the way life is, with a new game every day, and that's the way baseball is.
Bob Feller

Bottom of the ninth inning. Bases loaded. Two men out, the count at 2-2 and my team was up by one run.

I am fifteen years old and the year is 1964. I am standing on the mound at the ball field adjacent to Mt Tahoma High School, and I am pitching for my high school junior varsity team, the Bellarmine Lions.

The sky was a deep blue that afternoon and the sun was glaring. I’d been having trouble gripping the ball because of the sweat, and consequently my curve ball was all over the place, seemingly everywhere but its intended target.

I had two choices, then, regarding which pitch to throw. I could throw my fastball, a two-seamer that had great movement that day but was flattening out as the game wore on, or I could go with my knuckleball, my out pitch, which had been dipping out of the strike zone and was anything but reliable on that afternoon.

There were maybe fifty people in the stands. Junior varsity games do not draw big crowds, but those who were there were suddenly quite vocal and all were standing and cheering. Among the fans was my dad. He had taken off work early for the game, as he always did, and he was standing with everyone else and smiling. I remember thinking it was an odd time to smile. I could find nothing to smile about as I looked at the catcher, who was asking for the fastball, knee high on the inside corner. He might as well have been asking for a replay of Jesus walking across the sea.

One more look back at my dad, who was still smiling, but now he was nodding his head and had flashed three fingers at me. Knuckleball…the out pitch…and as schizophrenic a pitch as there is in baseball.

With a deep sigh I shook off the catcher, waited until he signaled the knuckleball, and went into my stretch.

My younger days
My younger days | Source

I Hope You Dance

STRIKE THREE AND CHALK ONE UP FOR THE LITTLE GUY


Baseball is the only field of endeavor where a man can succeed three times out of ten and be considered a good performer.
Ted Williams

Yes, I won that particular battle on that late May afternoon, but there were many others that I did not win. Two years later that same batter who I had struck out got his revenge when we were both playing on our varsity teams. In a similar situation with a similar count he was looking for that knuckleball and I did not disappoint him. When his swing was completed and he had begun his trot around the bases, the baseball landed four-hundred feet beyond the fence in centerfield, and I was left reflecting upon my future and my frailties.

That quote by Feller pretty much sums up life, does it not? There is a new game each and every day, and we can wallow in the defeats of the past, or live in the glories of the past, or we can strap on our cleats and prepare for that new game, the only one that truly counts.

I loved being a pitcher. Perhaps that says something about my personality. I loved having control of the game. I loved being the catalyst that started the action, and I loved being counted on by my teammates. Standing on that mound, twirling the ball in my hand, determining which pitch to throw and knowing that my decision would affect the outcome of the game….well, that was a rush!

It was also an illusion!

No one player controls a game. Baseball, like football and basketball, is a team sport. Once that pitch is released the game is out of my hands. I then have to rely on my teammates to field the ball cleanly, throw it accurately and move around the diamond in a pre-arranged choreography designed to play with the upmost efficiency.

It is much the same in life is it not?

A Moment with Bill

FINDING PERSPECTIVE


A baseball game is simply a nervous breakdown divided into nine innings.
Earl Wilson

Baseball was always a lesson in perspective for me, and my dad, more often than not, was the tutor assigned to make sure I learned the lessons.

I would take losses hard. I would sulk and chastise myself, and for days after a loss I would be beside myself. How could I have been so stupid as to have thrown that pitch? Why couldn’t I find my control that game? If I had just laid down that bunt properly we would have won that game.

After one loss turned into four days of me cussing life and everything related to baseball, my dad told me to grab my mitt one evening. He said we were headed to the park to work on that pitch that had deserted me four days earlier.

When we got there he walked me to the mound and told me to sit down. He asked me if I loved playing baseball, because if I didn’t love it I needed to quit playing it. He told me that baseball was just a game, like Monopoly or Scrabble, and as such it was meant to be enjoyed and not treated like the death of a family member. And he told me that in the grand scheme of life, what I did on that mound would have no impact on civilization as we knew it, but it would always impact what kind of person I was and how I lived my life. He told me that baseball was a metaphor for life, and life a metaphor for baseball, and it was high time I learned from both.

Love life and love yourself

Take me out to the ballgame
Take me out to the ballgame | Source

APPROACHING THE SEVENTH INNING STRETCH


Do what you love to do and give it your very best. Whether it's business or baseball, or the theater, or any field. If you don't love what you're doing and you can't give it your best, get out of it. Life is too short. You'll be an old man before you know it.
Al Lopez

So now I find myself in the 6th inning of my game of life. In my earlier innings it appeared to be a sure victory, a blowout of the competition and a smooth ride through life. By the fourth inning the tide had turned, and the opposition was scoring at will on me. I finally found my control again so that now, in the sixth inning, it appears I’ll be able to go the distance and notch up a win.

How did I make it this far? I learned to love the game. I find joy with each day, and I embrace the wonders of life and treat them as the miracles that they are. You gotta love what you are doing or you are simply existing. Life is meant to be enjoyed. Life is meant to be rode hard and put away wet, and life is meant to be a finger in the light socket and the frizzy hair that follows.

And if it isn’t then you still have time! You can choose to be a bench-warmer and sit this one out, or you can stride out on the field, ask the coach for the ball, and pitch the game of your life.

What say you? Are you going to be a spectator or the star of your own personal game?

2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

Dedicated to my buddy Joe on HubPages. You can find Hawaiianodysseus here.

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    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      An interesting outlook here on Take Me Out To The Ballgame: A Moment With Bill Reflection, I don't know much about the game but you surely wrote a useful Hub.

    • Radcliff profile image

      Liz Davis 4 years ago from Hudson, FL

      Wow. They need more dads like yours at high school baseball games today! If only that message were more often repeated--don't sweat the small stuff and learn from your mistakes. It's easy to forget.

      Billy and Joe=my two faves. And of course they're on the opposite corner of the country!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Awww, Lizzy, thanks. I guess you will just have to travel out here and see us. This is God's Country you know. Don't stay out there with all the heathens. LOL

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      DDE, knowing the game isn't necessary for these lessons. :) Thank you for reading.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      An interesting look at our ALL American sport. I know that baseball has played an important part in your life. Most sports are about success and failure..actually life is. It is about picking yourself up and dusting yourself off and starting all over again. Sometimes life is just putting one foot in front of the other..Anyway it was an interesting look at the sport..and as always a great job. An there is something about watching a baseball game..it has many relaxing moments to eat peanuts and throw the shells. When I was a little girl and visiting Cleveland --where I was born---I saw Bob Feller play at a double header...Not sure what I saw but came home with a tummy ache.

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      A huge fan of baseball and loved how you related your life and life in general to this game. Truly great job Bill and hope you are having a great day now!! :)

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 4 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Bill - I love this on so many levels!! Both my older boys are baseball pitchers. Matt is the #2 pitcher for his high school JV team. I see him many times hang his head as if the entire game was resting on his shoulders - just like you did!

      Life is indeed about perspective. I find myself in the deepest moments of despair when I lose the ability to consider the moment in the larger frame of my overall existence. The differences we make on a daily basis, and particularly our self-worth, is not dependent on a single moment in a single day!

      Rated up - and sharing!! Best, Steph

    • Sheri Faye profile image

      Sheri Dusseault 4 years ago from Chemainus. BC, Canada

      This is an inspiring start to the day! Thanks Bill

    • Jeff Gamble profile image

      Jeff Gamble 4 years ago from Denton, Texas

      Interesting how the game parallels life. You make a great connection Bill. One thing I always remind my son when he has a start is to trust his defense. Those closest to you will pick you up when you're getting knocked around. Wonderful insights as always Bill.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Excellent and well done, thank you.

    • hawaiianodysseus profile image

      Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

      Hi, Bill!

      Wow! What a beautiful hub! You draw me in, my friend, and make me feel like you're right there in front of me, sharing yourself and what's in your heart with me. Pitch by pitch, you had me mesmerized.

      I am so honored by your personal dedication. Your reminiscences of pep talks from your dad move me to conjure up flashbacks of similar occasions with my father. In my turbulent adolescent years, I didn't always like my dad. Sometimes, I downright hated him. Strong word, I know, but I want to share this to provide perspective. A young, confused boy grows up to be a man...and after getting knocked around by the harsh realities of life, the lessons taught by a father doing the best he could with the limited resources and parental skills that he had at the time became crystal clear to me. I saw Dad last month, and we sat and watched his great-grandchildren play in a pre-Little League game. It was better than going to a professional game--lots of family and good friends, more heart, more spirit--and I couldn't help but remember how he had drilled my brothers and me with fielding and pitching.

      Your hub elicited lots of warm memories, Bill, and the videos you and Bev produce are superb. I loved both, but the one about loving yourself really hit home. Your mission to help others feel good about themselves is a noble one, and I am right there beside you supporting the cause!

      Thanks, Bill! You and Bev make a great team!

      Aloha!

      Joe

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 4 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      Billy, I don't know much about baseball, but I suspect it evokes the same emotional response in the US as football do on this side of the pond. Here's a quote about football which may also appeal to baseball fans; "some people think football is a matter of life and death. I don't like that attitude. I can assure them it is much more serious than that" Bill Shankly. :) Did I read you correctly? the same as monopoly!....Scrabble!...

      We're all reaching for the stars Bill; maybe one day....

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

      Wow! A home run for sure. It would seem you've inherited your Dad's wisdom and how lucky we are you share it. Dad's are great and their little pearls of wisdom follow us through our lives. Take heed, it is never too late to live and love life! Blessings Bill & Bev. Oh, and to dedicate this to one of my favorite hubbers HawaiiO, the icing on the cake.

      Voted up, awesome, and interesting.

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      Kelly Umphenour 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Nicely said Bill - my middle girl plays 1st and relief pitcher. At each game - I can't help observing the parents behavior quietly. I am amazed at how emotional a game it can get for both parents and children!

      I think it's an exciting GAME but at the end of it...we all go home:). It's just a game. Don't let Sydney hear me say that! Lol

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Janine! The memories I have of playing the game and learning from my father will last me a lifetime. I have been so lucky. :) I am having a great morning and I wish you the same.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Steph, you are a quality person and I'd hang with you any old day. As long as we all keep our perspective and remember some lessons that never go out of style, we have a chance at living a quality life.

      Thank you my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sheri, if this inspired you then I did my job as a writer and I am grateful. Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jeff, those are great words and powerful advice...trust those around you. Oftentimes they have the ability to make you and better you. :) Thank you for the visit and great comment.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Eric! I hope you are having a great day.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Kelly, there you are again. When you aren't driving me crazy with pictures of food you are visiting me and saying nice things. Thank you Kelly! It is only a game, but man oh man have I learned some great lessons from that game.

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Great analogy! Spectatator or star? Benchwarmer or player? You probably know this one and I ='m sure I've used it in a hub or on my other site but LeeAnn Womak's "I Hope you Dance" fits right in with this. I must say, I LOVED the picture! Thank you, Bill for an, as always, thought provoking hub!

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      lovedoctor926 4 years ago

      Bill, I agree with your views on regret. A very powerful message in this video. I like the Bob Feller quote. Al Lopez was right.. If you aren't passionate about what you're doing, then get out. I enjoyed this story Bill. you look so handsome in your baseball uniform. Lol. I'm sure you were a good pitcher back in the days. voted up!

    • profile image

      SassySue1963 4 years ago

      What I learned from Fooball:

      "If you want to move forward even one yard, have a big guy to clear the path."

      This was a great read. Though we call them games, and some even try to devalue their effects, there are great life lessons to be learned. You've pulled out some very interesting and unique ones in this piece. Nicely done.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Carol, I am green with envy. Bob Feller was a monster in the game, and I never saw him play.

      Thank you for the visit and recollections. For sure, baseball gives one time to do some great eating in the sunshine on a lazy afternoon. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Joe, it was my pleasure to dedicate this one to you. I knew you would appreciate the memories.

      As for Bev, she is a treasure and I am one lucky man. Heaven only knows what I did to deserve her, but there is no way I'm going to take her for granted as long as there is a breath in me.

      Life has not always been easy my friend, but it appears that I am finally living the good life, and I don't plan on changing what I am doing.

      Blessings to you my friend. I hope you are having a great day and I hope that walk is inspirational.

      Aloha,

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jo, forget about that reference to Monopoly. Baseball is so much more than that. :) And yes, one could see a parallel between baseball in America and football in England. Here American football is considered life and death by many. Baseball is just the traditional game filled with nostalgic memories. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mary, i was late meeting Joe, but it didn't take long to realize what a quality human being he is. I was happy to dedicate this to him. As for you, thank you so much. I am blessed with so many great friends here on HP.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Randi, I love that song and it is the perfect song for this hub...in fact, I really need to insert that soon. Thanks for the idea my friend and thank you, as always, for visiting and leaving a quality comment.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Doc, handsome I have never been, but thank you for the compliment. Passion....got to be passionate about work and play, love and relationships. Passion is the straw that stirs the drink of life my friend.

      Thank you! Sending you hugs across the country.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sassy, the idea of a big guy clearing the way is sound judgment. LOL Thank you for the visit. Much-appreciated.

    • vkwok profile image

      Victor W. Kwok 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Interesting hub. I especially liked how you began it with quotes of wisdom.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you vkwok! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

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      Shauna L Bowling 4 years ago from Central Florida

      What an inspiring hub, Bill! I think it's wonderful you remember the words your dad told you on that day. That was a life lesson that you still carry with you today. And now you share it with us. You're the best, my friend!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Sha! I had a pretty special childhood and it is worth sharing with others. :) I appreciate you my friend.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 4 years ago from south Florida

      From your description, Bill, of your dad's profound life lessons, it would appear that he was a very wise man and that you have inherited those marvelous genes. Thanks for sharing those metaphorical thoughts with us.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      drbj, he was a pretty simple man with great insights about life. I was lucky to have him as a father. Thank you my friend and I hope you are well today.

    • ladydeonne profile image

      Deonne Anderson 4 years ago from Florence, SC

      billybuc,

      I am happy to say that I have no regrets over how I've lived my life. I have been in the game of life 150%...no half stepping for me. I have felt and experienced great joy. I have known immense pain and suffering. Yet, I am thankful for all of it, the good and the bad. Were it not for the rain storms, I would not be able to fully appreciate the sunshine. I have completed three fourths of my life game and am "all in." I am the STAR! I create my life experiences on a daily basis and have heaven right here on earth. Thanks for the metaphor.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      ladydeonne, if it weren't for the bad times I would have no idea what real happiness is....and the bad times helped to mold me just as the good ones did. I have no regrets at all and I love my life. So happy you do as well.

      Thank you!

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      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      I'm still working on that home run!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Deb, just single them into submission. :)

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Bill. Your dad was a wise man, as are you. I'm sure he's very proud of the man you have become. Many thanks

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Bill, if I ever run into him again I'll ask him that very question....are you proud of the man I became?

      Thanks buddy! Have a great evening.

    • MrsBrownsParlour profile image

      Lurana Brown 4 years ago from Chicagoland, Illinois

      "No one player controls a game." But it's up to us how we play the game. These are such great lessons told with the metaphor of baseball---motivating and fun to read, even for a non-sports person like myself. :-)

    • picklesandrufus profile image

      picklesandrufus 4 years ago from Virginia Beach, Va

      A nice comparison of baseball to life. You also gave me an insight to the game of baseball...was a basketball player:) Enjoyable hub!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Lurana, in the end we will be judged by how we played the game. Accomplishments pale in comparison to the essence of who we are. :) Thank you for another visit.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Pickles, I could have written this with basketball as the theme...same lessons in life. :) Thank you for the visit.

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      Faith Reaper 4 years ago from southern USA

      Game on, Bill!

      Thanks for sharing your Dad's wisdom. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, I see!

      Excellent write as always.

      Voted up +++ and sharing

      Blessings, Faith Reaper

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Faith! Like any son I'll never see myself as wise as my father. :)

      love and blessings to you

      bill

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      Sueswan 4 years ago

      Hi Bill,

      You have hit a home runner with this one.

      Voted up

      Hope you are having a good week. :)

      Take care

      Sue

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      Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Bill, I admire how you always preface your message with a fine story. Unlike the sugar coating on a bitter pill, this pill is sweet inside out.

      Thanks for this lovely journey that you take us on, each day.

      Up, awesome and sharing.

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      Nithya Venkat 4 years ago from Dubai

      Great write. Embrace the game of life and give it the best shot. Great ball play. Voted up.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sue, I am having a good week and I hope the same for you. Thank you my friend.

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Rajan, that was a lovely comment. Thank you! I have always admired storytellers, so naturally I picked up the practice. :) Have a wonderful remainder of the week.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Vellur, indeed, embrace this thing called life. We only get one shot at it.

      Thank you my friend.

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      Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

      Kindred, this is one of your best works. I loved every line. The story of your days as a young pitcher is wonderful and I melted when your Dad took you out to the mound to teach you a most valuable lesson. It is the way my Dad would do things as I grew up. I would have loved your Dad too. "Rode hard and hung up wet"... I heard that all my life and it is the way I want to do things. As Aerosmith says..."I don't want to miss a thang". Just beautiful!!!!

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      Karen Silverman 4 years ago

      i know little about baseball, but i've NEVER heard of a 'schizophrenic pitch'...omg...too funny, Billy!

      the only 'game' we can control - is our own, and even then- it's often ripped from our hands rudely and without forewarning!

      it's the NEED for control that becomes the problem - if allowed to...blossom..

      your dad taught you a life-lesson that many need to learn about perspective...and priorities..

      well done as usual, my friend..

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Kindred, there is no reason to do things half-assed. Go for it and deal with the consequences. :) Yes, you would have loved my dad, and he you.

      Thank you my dear. Sending love your way.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Leslie, I hate it when I can't control things...probably explains my alcoholism. LOL I had to learn to give up before I had a chance at happiness. As for perspective and priorities....I agree, many a migraine would be avoided if people would just learn those two things.

      Thanks, Sis! Sending love to you.

    • Insightful Tiger profile image

      Insightful Tiger 4 years ago

      Another great hub!

      I would rather play baseball any day, rather than watch it. I find it terribly boring to watch.

      I really liked all the baseball quotes and analogies and I agree with them all.

      Thank you, my friend, for coming out for the 6th inning and sharing your talents with us daily!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Insightful, it is good to see you again. I'll have to check and see if I've missed anything new by you. Thank you for the visit. It is always nice to see your smiling face on my site.

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      Dancing Water 4 years ago

      I recall watching the Blue Jays in Toronto, and I was struck by the zen of the game. The ball is struck, and the infield and outfield dance a slow ballet that is a joy to behold__that is, if there is true teamwork. The dance is only beautiful when all of the components are in harmony.

      I so enjoyed reading your hub, and appreciate it for the beautiful life lessons it holds.

      Also, thank you for sharing your father with us. What an amazing man! How many fathers would have carried the lesson he taught during his time with you on that baseball field? Not many, I daresay. Many fathers these days would be pacing back and forth, behaving as if a family member had died.

      Blessings, dear friend, Bill,

      Reba

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Reba, I was for sure blessed to have the parents that I had. Their lessons will remain with me until I die, and I have tried to pass those lessons down to my son.....and so it goes, the legacy passed from generation to generation.

      Thank you my friend and blessings to you, today and always

      bill

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