Throughout my years as a high school and collegiate baseball player as well as life after ball, I have been lucky enough to hear speeches from many profound MLB names. I have been graced with words of wisdom from the likes of Duane Ward, Sandy Alomar Sr., Bruce Hurst, Goose Gossage, Tim Raines, and most recently Homer Bush. Though every one of them has vastly different experiences and stories to share, there are some common themes that I have noticed throughout the years: enjoying the moment, perseverance, and humility.
Homer Bush made those three ideas the focal points of his speech. A likable guy, Mr. Bush stood up on the stage at the Vauxhall Academy of Baseball and was not afraid to admit short-comings or disappointment from injuries. As he puts it,“Many great things, many amazing things have happened to me in my career”; and isn’t that a wonderful outlook on sport and life in general? Too many people seem to take their success for granted, especially those working their way through the ranks. Homer spent 7 years in the minors with the Padres and Yankees before making it big. That’s a pretty long time to be spent on buses and in cheap hotels.
Though that may seem like hell to some people, Mr. Bush explained that “every time I moved up a level it was like the Big Leagues for me”. Having been a high school football star in East St. Louis, he never really thought baseball would be his calling. It wasn’t until he was drafted that he really thought about a future in the sport. He shared his wisdom happily, and gave me an impression that no matter what you’re doing to achieve a goal, you have to enjoy every step; even the boring ones. As long as you have a goal in mind, the steps you take to getting there are the things you will need to remember once you arrive. Every little moment in time has a purpose and if you can take a lesson from all of your experiences, you will surely advance in life.
This may ring true when you remember your days in post-secondary, churning out papers and lab reports and studying for hours on end. I’m not sure if I know anyone who misses those days, but it was an integral aspect of maturity and growth towards a goal – graduating. You can apply this to many other aspects of life as well and for Homer, it was grinding through the minors. Before finally making it big with the New York Yankees in 1998, he had to fight for a position that nobody thought he would make. In his rookie season they won the World Series; the team was loaded with many all-time Yankee greats and he didn’t take that experience for granted either. He described it as surreal, often finding himself stepping back and thinking “wow, I’m really playing in the majors with these legends”. This realization allowed him to stay humble throughout his career.
Having made the jump from the inner city of East St. Louis to the flashing lights of New York City he remained true to himself, remembering his family and roots, simply trying to learn as much as he could from the likes of Derek Jeter, Tim Raines and Bernie Williams. One of his thoughts that I found interesting was “nobody wanted to hear my hitting philosophy when I’m just a rookie and we’ve got guys like that around”. And it’s true, that even though 99% of the baseball world could learn a thing or two from Homer Bush, he was still learning every day from his mentors in the major leagues. His humility stayed true when he was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays and was told “you’re my 2nd baseman”. He took the opportunity with grace and strived to lead his team to a World Series. Too often, people take promotions and power and use them the wrong way; either for personal gain or to take advantage of others. It is Homer’s give-back, team-first attitude that sets him apart from the other speakers I’ve heard. His humility reminds me that with any success you are fortunate to earn, giving back to the community is a great way to show your thanks for your opportunities.
Though Homer’s career was cut short by hip injuries, he has found ways to share his dream with others. He currently helps the Blue Jays run baseball camps for kids throughout Canada, increasing the awareness and passion for baseball across the country. He really made me think about my opportunities and what I would do if I were to achieve more throughout my life. I already want to give back and maybe this blog can help some people realize their potential too, because no matter where you come from or what you start out as, you can always reach your dreams if you enjoy the moment, persevere, and stay humble.
Thanks for reading and please let me know what you think in the comments.