The year was 1967 and I was playing my final year on my high school baseball team, named the Broncos. As an eighteen year old I was one of three senior players on this team and even more important, I was a pitcher.
I spent my first year with this team as an outfielder which was a very lonely place to be but the following year I became the primary third baseman and a part time pitcher. During my final year the role had reversed and I was the primary pitcher and part time third baseman.
For me life was great in this final season. The baseball pitcher received all of the attention of the coach, the players and the fans in the stand. I thought I had arrived in life and my cocky attitude was continually on display.
I felt that I was the very best player on this team and I was not shy about letting everyone know that little fact of life.
I became frustrated with the rest of the team because we had been losing games. Some batters were not hitting and our defense was awful. I did not hesitate to let them know how angry I was with them.
After our fifth game of the twelve game schedule my coach pulled me to the side and ask what my problem was. I told him that I did not have a problem instead; I was only having fun and enjoying the fame. He informed me that, yes I was a very good player and pitcher, however, he said, our team has only won one game and that there was more that I could be doing to help the team win other than just throwing strikes and striking out batters.
He informed me that the team was much more important than just me alone. He also informed me that our team had been losing and that no matter how good I was that I was still on a losing team.
Learning that the team was more important than the individual, at the age of eighteen, changed my life and each Thanksgiving I give thanks to Coach Vaughn for helping me to see that.