First, those who know me know that I’m an avid baseball fan. And despite the fact that we’re going headfirst into football season, and my Indians didn’t make the playoffs, I can dream, can’t I? (By the way, I’ve heard that fantasy football is a billion dollar business!)
Second, you may be asking, “What does fantasy baseball have to do with business?” Well, I’ll get to that, too.
Meantime, you folks can go ahead and devise your own football dream team. Here’s my baseball dream team, which I’ll take any time!
I’ve selected my fantasy baseball team pretty much the way I usually select employees: ability to play the game (willingness to roll up sleeves and dig into the work at hand), character (always important; in sports and in work), and commitment to the game (show me you’re in it for the long haul). Also, each of the players on my fantasy team played for the joy of the game. Not for the fame or the money.
Catcher: Jim Hegan played for the Cleveland Indians in the 1950s. I was a catcher on my hometown baseball team and I held Hegan in high regard. He had little exposure to other teams, but he was an exceptional player and a highly respected family man. He reached out to youth.
Pitcher: Orel Hershiser came from a larger market, but finished his career with the Cleveland Indians. On a high note, I might add. He provided the team with leadership. A former Bowling Green State University student, Hershiser played with humility and strength, despite his career with the biggest teams in baseball.
3rd Base: Max Alvis was a star in the 1960s. He lead the League in hitting until the All-Star break, and in my eyes he was always a rock solid player and gave his all for the team. Alvis had a quote that was clearly the attitude of his generation. He said, “ Baseball is a service- oriented business, if you don’t serve your customer, someone else will.” He went on in life as a successful banker, maintaining his customer service philosophy!
2nd Base: Duane Kuiper joined the Cleveland Indians, who drafted him in the first round of the 1972 January Secondary Amateur Draft. Kuiper is currently a five-time Emmy award-winning radio and television sportscaster for the San Francisco Giants. Along with former major league pitcher Mike Krukow, he forms the broadcast duo known as “Kruk and Kuip.”
1st Base: Vic Power Teammate Mudcat Grant called Power “…one of the best-fielding first basemen of all-time,” and I’d have to agree. Playing in the 1950s, Power was, and remains, one of the most exceptional hitters and fielders of all time. My mom and all fans loved him and cheered Power every time he stepped onto the field. I still remember my mother’s cheer for Power, a resounding “Come on VICTOOOOOR!”
Left Field: Minnie Minoso was signed by the Cleveland Indians as an amateur free agent in 1948. He was the most charismatic player I ever witnessed. Also, Minoso engaged the fans and was one of the most excellent and exciting players of his time.
Center Field: Vic Davalillo was a super leadoff hitter. He was very involved with the Greater Cleveland community and was a great leader; sure to get the game started on the right track.
Short Stop: Woodie Held was another of my heroes in the 1950s. He was solid; never flashy. He was a great leader – for the team – and for the community.
Outfield: Joe Charboneau was named Rookie of the Year in the late 1970s, yet he had to win his job back on the team. With that, he lost confidence. But he stood by the Greater Cleveland community and will always remain a major player and hero in my book.
Manager: Mike Hargrove led his team to five consecutive AL Central Division titles in 1995–99, and World Series appearances in 1995 and 1997. His dismissal as Indians manager by GM John Hart was controversial with many fans, and to this day, Cleveland adores him. He maintains a home here, even though he was born in Texas.
ONE LAST THING…
Baseball (all sports, actually) is a business, perhaps today, more than ever. It’s not enough to be a good player. The best of the best contribute to the team and for the team. Those who succeed beyond expectations work hard, accept defeat with grace and then get up, dust themselves off, and start again. People who excel in business are cut from the same cloth as sports stars. I’m sure that’s why there are so many analogies to sports in business.