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Winning Words

“You can observe a lot by just watching.”

“You’ve got to be careful if you don’t know where you are going, because you might not get there.”

“Baseball is 90% mental and the other half is physical.”

As a lifelong NY Yankees fan, one of my childhood sports heroes, Yogi Berra, the Great 8, passed last week. By the way, the great Jackie Robinson did not steal home on Yogi, he was out, period.

Yogi Berra will be remembered for his Hall of Fame baseball career, his hustle and the toughness that he demonstrated on his field of dreams. He was hardware humble and he understood and never forgot his good fortune to be a part of something much bigger than himself.  

He also will be remembered for his artful use of the language and his memorable and sometimes humorous quotes. I shared three of my favorite Yogi Berra quotes above.

I think Yogi Berra was a great communicator because his words made us think. Isn’t it an interesting fact that those who communicate the best also win more?

Baseball in the simplest of terms is still a game played with a ball and a stick.

I think that Fire Service players, at all levels, should be more like Yogi Berra. We should all appreciate that we were one of a few who are able to play on our field of dreams and we must never forget that all of us are the lucky ones.

Because those who went before us in the Fire Service were Champions, there will never be a shortage of young people who want to be us, to see us, to touch us, to try out, to get there, to maybe make it to the bigs, to get in the game, to be something, to be someone, to feel what we feel, to belong to something so proud, so respected and revered in history with so many champions who won so many championships and who continue to win championships today.

Our career and what we leave behind is not represented by our number being retired or our statue being placed in center field or some imaginary legacy that we spent a career working on and that only we believe and that no one else really cares about.

Break the Fire Service, Fire Fighting, and Leadership down to the simplest of terms and leave it there.

Fire Fighting means that someone is going to get dirty and someone is going to get wet. Fighting a fire is not intended to be a pretty or glamorous experience, except to those who are trapped inside and dying to meet us and to their family members who are praying that we came to them prepared and ready and willing to fight to win.

Writing IN THESE BOOTS on Facebook,, @ The Fire and for Fire & EMS Virginia Magazine and speaking to groups has been a real honor and a joy for me. I am very grateful to those who encouraged me and who gave me a chance to get into the game and play. It certainly doesn’t make me a hall of famer, it just means that I will put on my gear and get in the game and hopefully I will pass on something to that one person who is learning by watching and who realizes that fire fighting is indeed a balance between the mental and the physical and who accepts the advice to always have some idea of where you want to go.

Screwballs, knuckleballs, wild pitches, sliders, slow changers, chin music, high and tighters or just plain heaters, and those who are bringing smoke; you will see them all if you play long enough. The catcher and the leader understand that each pitch requires movement, action and adjustment. Good balance keeps a catcher and a leader from falling over in the dirt and being laughed at.

What do you give back to the game while passing time as a bullpen catcher?

Your home run yesterday doesn’t count today. Keep hittin’ it.

Should you move yourself up or wait for ownership and management to start giving it away?

Who taught you the tricks plays and do you share them with the Rookies who want to be you?

Embrace those who will take your place, teach them, they might even come to your retirement party.

That little kid near your dugout is waiting for that unforgettable moment, are you too important?

A baseball player and a leader with no followers are just taking a walk.

Are your framing the pitches for your team or just catching it and tossing it back?

Teach and coach the mental and provide a coat tail for the physical – they will follow you if you lead.

Thanks for reading, liking, caring and sharing.

Have a great day – it’s a GREAT day for it.

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