What We Saw in Johnsons 300th
When I watched Randy Johnson win his 300th on Thursday, I wished my 18-year-old son had watched with me. He’s not a baseball fan, so he never watches (although he makes the occasional trip to AT&T Park with me, mostly for the garlic fries and churros).
But I wished he had watched Randy Johnson yesterday because he would have seen a 6-foot-10-inch example of the quality that I believe will determine his success in life: Perseverance.
We tell our kids all the time to work hard and keep trying. We know, because we’ve learned the hard way, that the only thing in life you really have control over is your effort. You can’t control the results. You can only control how much work and energy you put into something.
Randy Johnson is 45 years old, an age when almost every other baseball player is buying longer belts and telling stories about the old days to the local Rotary Club. Johnson no longer has the fastball that made him the most ferocious pitcher of his generation. Yet he won his 300th game this week because he put in the work necessary to overhaul his pitching style.
It couldn’t have been easy. You do something a certain way your whole life, then your body — or your financial circumstances, or your divorce or your downsized job — no longer allows it. You either give up or go through the uncomfortable process of learning a different way. I wanted to show that to my son.
Instead, I watched it without him. And I saw something about perseverance I had never fully understood. Even though Johnson shared credit with all his teammates over the years, he alone had to decide each winter to get out of bed every morning and put his middle-aged body through grueling workouts instead of hitting the golf course. He alone had to be willing to risk failure by trotting out to the mound for one more season, then another, when the safe move would have been to wave his cap and accept the applause and start writing his speech for the Hall of Fame.
Perseverance is an individual decision. My son, like each of us, has to choose it on his own. But I wonder if perseverance sometimes seems like an old-fashioned concept because we so rarely get to see what it looks like. Thursday, with Randy Johnson on the mound, we did.