There are a lot of reasons to be cynical these days. If there weren’t, the Cheers theme song wouldn’t have so explicitly said so. But for those of us without a Sam and Diane, it’s been a rough few weeks. The world seems to be going out of its way to make everything complicated and mean-spirited. I usually like to present the world with solutions to problems, but before diving into solving international policy, I think that sometimes it’s worth it to step back and pause and be inspired. For inspiration I’ll often turn to art, be it writing or film or photography or comedy; sometimes I’ll turn to actions that people are taking in their communities to spark new ideas; sometimes I turn to sports. The role of sports in society is a discussion for another time, but especially in the last few weeks the question of what we can and should glean from athletes has been put in front of us. Many want to look at the negatives that we can learn from sports stars. Instead of going that route, I wanted to share a story that you may not have seen.
The story of Guilder Rodriguez.
So I love baseball, as displayed here and here, and I can promise you, you’ve never heard of Guilder Rodriguez. I hadn’t before this week either. That’s because Guilder Rodriguez has been in the minor leagues his whole career. A minor leaguer named Guilder Rodriguez is restoring my faith, and I’ll tell you why.
Guilder Rodriguez has spent the last 13 years in the minor leagues. You don’t need to know anything about baseball or the MLB to know that 13 years is a long time to be doing anything. This week he was called up to the big leagues at age 31 and got his first career hit. The hit was a weak blooper over the short stop’s head, driving in the go ahead run in a game between two teams both way out of contention for a playoff spot this late in the season.
For 13 years, Guilder spent his career in the minor leagues. That’s 13 years of someone telling him he wasn’t good enough to cut it that he put up with. 13 years of working to achieve making it to the major league level and failing. 13 years of finding it in himself somehow to not give up and believe in himself. 13 offseasons when he had to consider doing another line of work and deciding he needed to keep playing baseball. 13 years of work, dedication, passion for a game that he clearly wasn’t cut out for professionally. Baseball is a game about love. It’s a game about respect and loyalty. It’s a game that rewards those who are selfless. Sometimes it just takes longer for others.
Guilder finally got his chance and he made it a memorable one. He was called up to play a few games as the season winds down for the Rangers. He was 0 for 3 his first game. Then 0 for 1 in 3 more games he played. Then, this week, it finally happened. He got his first career hit. It was when the game was tied 3-3, and it even drove in the winner run for the game. It wasn’t a home run, or even a particularly strongly hit ball, but it was an RBI single and he was on the record now for having a career major league hit in the MLB.
His family was in the crowd, his Dad cried when he got the hit. He had played with the pitcher in the minors before. Everyone in the stadium got up and cheered for him. Sure, the game had no consequence in terms of the overall standings for either team. Sure, he’s probably not going to now start a career as a major leaguer, and will likely be back down in the minor leagues next year. But this week Guilder Rodriguez did something he worked his entire life to do and he finally did it. Something no one thought he would do for 13 years. I think that’s really quite something.
So when you’re feeling in a downward spiral or like the world is crashing around you, and if you don’t have Sam to sling you a drink, just think about how happy Guilder Rodriguez is right now. I know it’s helped me this week.
Here’s the hit: