When I was living in Washington, DC, I was an assistant coach for a 8-10 year old “coach-pitch” little league baseball team.  Connor showed up on the first day of practice, and you could tell he was a little “special.”  Since we were not really a “competitive” team (more educational than anything), we allowed Connor to be part of the team.  It did not take us long to fall in love with Connor.  He always wore his hat a little cockeyed, but he had the biggest smile I had ever seen before.  It literally almost went ear to ear.

There were only four teams in our league, so we ended up playing the same teams over and over again.  We got to know the kids and parents on the other teams very well.  It got to the point where we would cheer the other team along.  It truly became more of an educational season than anything else.

The thing about Connor is that when he came up to bat, he would never swing at the ball.  So, fast forward to the end of the season.  It’s the last game of the season.  We have two outs with a man on first and second base.  Guess who comes up to bat?  That’s right – Connor.

I was coaching third base and had told the runner on second base to run on anything.  I called time out and walked to the plate to have a word with Connor.  “Now look Connor.  This is the last inning and the last opportunity for you to get a hit.  How about we take a crack at the ball?”  Connor gets that huge smile on his face and says, “Alright, coach.”  Here comes the pitch.  Connor just watched it go by.  Strike one!

I called time out again and went to home plate to have another talk with Connor.  I told him the same thing.  Here comes the second pitch.  Connor watched the second one fly by.  Strike Two!

Again, I called time out and walked to home plate.  “Connor, turn around and look in the bleachers.  Do you see mom and dad?” Connor nods.  “Well, they don’t care whether you get a hit or not.  They just want to see you swing the bat.  Honestly, that’s all any of us want.  Just take a swing. Connor replies with the big smile, “Alright coach.”

Here comes the pitch.  What do you think Connor does?  Yes, of course he takes a swing at the ball.  The story would suck had he let it go by again.  Well, not only did he take a swing, he made contact with the ball.  You would have thought it was Game 7 of the World Series, bottom of the ninth inning, and Connor just put the game winning homerun out of the park.  Both sets of bleachers went nuts.

I turned around to see Connor’s parents reaction.  Mom had her hands over her mouth like she was choking back tears.  Dad was shouting and pointing towards first base.  I was so happy until I turned back around.  Darting down third base line was Connor.  The runner on second was also running towards third base.  Connor slides into the bag about the same time as the other runner.  Connor stands up with this look as if to say to the other runner, “What are you doing on my bag?”  Then a huge smile spread across his face because he realized what he had done.  He had his first hit.  I did not realize how quiet the parents were until I heard the umpire yell, “Batter’s Out!”  I looked down at Connor and said, “Connor, I am so proud of you.  You mustered up the courage to swing at the ball for the first time, and you got a hit.  Next season, when you get a hit, I want you to run to first base first.”  Connor looked up and smiled and said, “Alright coach.”

Email mike at mike.miller@primosolutionsllc.com to learn the valuable sales lesson from this story.