In the late eighties and early nineties, Orel Hershiser was about as accomplished as a pitcher could get. During one stretch, he pitched a major-league-record 59 consecutive scoreless innings – nearly 7 straight games. In 1988 he won the NL Cy Young Award and was voted the World Series MVP.
It’s easy for people of that stature and success to become absorbed in themselves, but that wasn’t the case with Orel. After the LA Dodgers spring training camp ended in 1992 a young, skinny pitcher felt devastated after being demoted to the minor leagues. When the young pitcher’s head was turned, Orel quietly slipped a ball into his bag. On the ball, Orel had written:
From one big leaguer to another. See you back here soon.
Imagine being that discouraged young player, wondering if you had what it takes to make it in the big leagues, and then reaching into your bag to find those encouraging words from a highly accomplished pitcher. What a lift!
As it turns out, Orel’s words were not only encouraging but accurate. That skinny pitcher’s name was Pedro Martinez who went on to not only make it in the big leagues but became a highly successful pitcher in his own right.
Lord, who would you have us to encourage today?