February 23

Much of Life is All About Baseball

Much of Life is All About Baseball

By Deborah Johnson

February 23, 2024

all about baseball, American League, baseball game, Deborah Johnson, Louisville Slugger, Major League Baseball, National League, podcast, Spalding

There is a phrase I have often used when asked about my background which is, “When all is said and done, it’s all about baseball!” This happens to me when performing concerts, speaking or even engaging in a conversation. I have realized that with a husband that played pro-ball for the Indians organization, it doesn’t matter where the conversation goes. The moment I mention Greg’s background, the focus is immediately all about baseball! So I have accepted this fact and realize that life can be likened to the intricate game of baseball, with its ebbs and flows, victories, and defeats. Just as in baseball, we face numerous pitches – some fast and unexpected, others slow and anticipated. The choices we make are similar to swinging at a pitch. The bases in a baseball game represent the milestones and achievements that propel us forward on life's journey.

Just like a well-executed play, life demands teamwork, communication, and strategic thinking. There’s so much to learn from baseball, as I have discovered through the years. Upon marrying Greg, I thought the game wasn’t too much more than nine innings that could last five or more hours! But I was wrong! The amount of strategy and consistent study for many players between and before every game surprised me. I will cover some interesting facts that I have learned about the player’s stance, the history of bats and the specifics of balls used in a game. Though there are more aspects to explore, we’ll focus on applying principles from those key elements. To wrap things up, we’ll share some interesting stories of fans catching balls.  

Women at Halftime by Deborah Johnson Much of Life is All About Baseball with Deborah Johnson 2-27-2024
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The Stance

In baseball, a player's stance is a crucial element that significantly influences their hitting performance. The batting stance is the position a hitter takes in the batter's box before the pitch is thrown. It's a unique and personalized aspect of each player's approach to hitting. There are various stances employed by players, each designed to optimize their comfort, balance, and power. For instance, some players adopt an open stance, where their front foot is positioned slightly away from the plate. This stance can provide better visibility of the pitcher but may make it challenging to cover the outside part of the plate.

A closed stance involves positioning the front foot closer to the plate, potentially limiting the field of vision but offering an advantage in reaching outside pitches. Then there’s the square stance, where both feet are aligned parallel to the pitcher. This balanced stance allows for quick adjustments and coverage of a wider range of pitches.

Tris Speaker, born in 1888, played in the MLB from 1907-1928, mostly with the Boston Red Sox and Cleveland Indians. Speaker was 6 feet tall and a left-handed batter. His stance of crouching down in a closed stance was considered unorthodox at the time. But it was highly effective. To me, this is a great example of a commitment to a position that many not be hugely popular at the outset but ends up making a huge difference in the outcome. It's common to imitate others and conform to prevailing trends. However, blindly following the crowd typically leads to unoriginality, turning products and businesses into replicas that dilute their uniqueness. Courage is required to prioritize our individual strengths and forge a path that might not be instantly popular but holds the potential for significant effectiveness with our own unique stance.

The Bats

Sometimes a novelty business that seems it has little potential becomes a gold mine. This was true for John A. “Bud” Hillerich, born in 1866. When Bud was 17, he attended a Louisville Eclipse game. When future hall of famer Pete Browning got up to bat, then broke his bat, Hillerich offered to take Browning back to their family’s woodworking workshop to make him a new bat. The new bat brought good luck for Browning, who had been in a slump, with three home runs in his next game. When Bud convinced his father they could make good money selling only bats, the Louisville Slugger was born and by 1923 Hillerich & Son became the top manufacturer of bats in the country. 

Baseball bats come in various styles and materials, each designed to cater to the specific preferences and performance needs of players. Traditionally, wooden bats have been the hallmark of the sport.

In contrast to wooden bats, aluminum and composite bats have become prevalent in amateur and collegiate baseball. Aluminum bats are known for their lightweight nature and large sweet spots, making them a favorite among young players developing their skills. Composite bats, constructed with a mix of materials such as carbon fiber, are engineered to enhance performance by optimizing the trampoline effect upon ball impact. The choice between wood, aluminum, or composite bats often boils down to personal preference, hitting style, and the specific regulations of the league or level of play. The diverse array of bats available in the world of baseball allows players to tailor their equipment to their unique strengths and preferences, contributing to the dynamic and evolving nature of the game.

The insight I glean from this tale about baseball bats is that in our businesses, breakthroughs can come from unexpected sources. It might be a song we almost discarded but chose to release, a course we developed that unexpectedly gains popularity, or even crafting a baseball bat that initially seems more like a hobby item than a potential gold mine for our business. See: FREE Sheet Music Sampler

The Ball

In the game of baseball, the humble baseball itself plays a pivotal role, symbolizing the heart and soul of the sport. Historically, there was much variation in the size of the baseball, the materials used and how the balls were held together. Early baseballs were often makeshift and consisted of a core made from a variety of materials, including rubber, cork, or even wooden spheres then wrapped in various materials such as yarn or string, which made each baseball fairly inconsistent. It was actually common for pitchers to make their own balls, which made each pitch very unpredictable!

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By 1910, significant changes were made to the baseball, and by 1934, the size of the ball was slightly increased and stitching pattern altered to create a flatter surface. This was the standard ball agreed upon by the American League (AL) and National League (NL). A.G. Spalding, born in 1850, was a key figure in manufacturing baseballs as well as the sport of baseball. After failing working in a couple businesses thought to be more stable than baseball, he came back to the sport he loved and became a pitcher, manager and eventually, executive. In 1876, he and his brother opened A.G. Spalding & Brothers and gained the contract to manufacture balls for the National League. That contract lasted 99 years and they eventually took over the whole of Major League Baseball.

During a typical Major League Baseball (MLB) game, multiple baseballs are used. According to MLB rules, before the start of each game, both the home and visiting teams must supply the home plate umpire with at least six dozen (72) new baseballs. The provision of new baseballs by both teams help maintain consistency and fairness during the game.

The takeaway I gather from this is that, much like a standardized baseball, many of us share fundamental tools in our lives. These tools encompass aspects like health, basic finances, and time. However, the crucial aspect is how we choose to allocate and utilize what we have. Among these, the utilization of time and resources stands out prominently for me. Taking the initiative to pause and assess how I am employing these fundamental tools holds particular significance and value. See: Online Courses

Stories of Catching the Ball

While catching a baseball at a game is a common occurrence, some instances stand out for their unusual or remarkable nature. Here are a few notable accounts:

The Popcorn Bucket Catch: During a game between the Houston Astros and the Oakland Athletics in 2011, a fan caught a foul ball in his popcorn bucket. The video of him nonchalantly reaching into the bucket to retrieve the ball went viral, showcasing both luck and a cool demeanor.

The Double Glove Catch: In 2015, a fan at a Chicago Cubs game made headlines for catching a foul ball using two gloves. With a glove on each hand, he skillfully positioned himself to make the catch, displaying an unconventional yet effective method.

The Hat Trick Catch: At a Tampa Bay Rays game in 2011, a fan caught a foul ball in his hat not once but twice during the same game. The second catch, where the ball landed in the same fan's hat again, added an extra layer of rarity to the incident.

The Barehanded Baby Catch: In 2018, a dad holding his baby at a Houston Astros game caught a home run ball barehanded while still cradling his child. The one-handed, instinctive catch garnered attention for the dad's multitasking skills.

The Beer Cup Catch: During a Milwaukee Brewers game in 2014, a fan caught a home run ball in his beer cup. After the catch, he promptly chugged the beer with the baseball still inside, creating a memorable moment captured on camera.

These unconventional catches serve as a metaphor for the unpredictability of the market and business. The suddenness of a baseball heading our way can catch us off-guard, creating a parallel to the uncertainties in the business world. However, those who remain prepared and vigilant stand a better chance of successfully catching the ball. While personally, I may not excel at catching a baseball, I do recognize the opportunity to identify trends and areas for growth in both my life and business by staying alert and using wisdom in managing my time and resources. The key is maintaining constant vigilance and preparedness in the face of ongoing challenges.


Adversities, like curveballs, may catch us off guard, but our ability to adapt and respond determines our trajectory. As we stand on the pitcher's mound of our own experiences, the pitches we throw, whether bold or cautious, influence the game's outcome. Ultimately, life, much like baseball, is a continuous cycle of learning, growing, and embracing the unpredictable nature of the journey.

Additional Articles: 

Constructing Meaningful Work

What is Groupthink and is it Dangerous?

Novelty of Thinking For Yourself in a World of Clones

Courage is required to prioritize our individual strengths and forge a path that might not be instantly popular but holds the potential for significant effectiveness with our own unique stance.

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Thought Leader, Keynote Speaker, Author

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Deborah Johnson

About the author

DEBORAH JOHNSON, M.A., creator of Hero Mountain® and former president of Los Angeles National Speakers Association, is an international award-winning music artist, author, speaker and National Media Commentator. She also hosts the popular podcast "Women at Halftime." Deborah provides tools to create your ideal lifestyle and work at mid-career or during the halftime of life, getting unstuck. You can live your second half fulfilled, focused and free! Up for multiple GRAMMY Awards and spending over 20 years in the entertainment industry, she's an expert on how to constantly reinvent yourself in a gig-economy. She is also the recipient of the Women's Economic Forum Exceptional Women of Excellence Award. Deborah is the author of multiple books, over twenty albums and musicals and speaks and performs in both live and virtual events.

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