Once upon a time, I played adult fast-pitch baseball for several years in my late 20s. It was incredibly intimidating, since I played against several ex-major leaguers and college players. Some guys threw in the upper 80s, even, which is unnerving at best and scary as hell at worst!
Anyways, I started at right field, which baseball fans know is where you put the worst fielder. But I usually batted third, fourth, or fifth, which is where big hitters usually line up.
Only problem was, I wasn’t a big hitter. Why did my coach put me there?
Because I had one goal—get on base. What’s the easiest way to do that? Hit singles or walk. So that’s what I did.
I hit a lot of singles back then. Walked a lot too. I never swung for the fences and always made the pitcher work for three strikes, which is very hard hard to do at amateur levels, especially if the hitter isn’t swinging. So I only swung at strikes.
Halfway into the season, my teammate Russ pulled me aside and asked, “Have you looked at your online stats?”
“No,” I replied. As a rookie, I didn’t even know that was possible. “Well you’re leading the team in RBIs (runs batted in) and have an on-base percentage over 70%. NICE WORK!”
That praise and realization felt good. But it also reminded me of an important life lesson: thinking small often leads to big results. Since small ball is boring and unglamorous, however, not many people engage in it. Big ball, you see, gets most of the fame and attention.
Obviously, big ball works too. Maybe just as much, if not more, than small ball. But big ball is harder to pull off. It requires more skill and God-given talent. I’m often short on that.
So I in life, business, and baseball, I usually choose small ball.
PS—Small ball works in all aspects of life and sport, not just baseball. For example, Italy plays some of the smallest, most boring soccer you will ever see. But they are tied for second for most World Cups. Because small ball works.