By John Pierce

While many sports fans turn their attention solely to football this time of year, I really enjoy the final weeks of baseball leading into the post-season. I try to milk all of pleasure out of these remaining games before entering that chilly gap between the end of the World Series and spring training.

Recently, when reflecting on the importance of being mentored and then becoming a mentor in whatever area of life we find ourselves, a baseball memory resurfaced.

It was spring training in the early ‘90s and my beloved Braves were playing the Dodgers in a meaningless game. Since these teams were once division rivals, there was some good-natured ribbing going on between fans enjoying the return of the national pastime and the Florida sun.

A Dodgers fan with an infectious laugh was seated near me. Like me, she was a devoted fan with a clear understanding that this is recreation. So we poked a little fun at each other.

Late in spring training games, starters give way to young prospects with linebacker numbers on their uniforms. They are the players who get “reassigned” to minor league teams just before the big team breaks camp to begin the new season.

A deep fly ball off a Braves’ bat caused the young replacement centerfielder some confusion. He turned one way and then the other before the ball glanced off his glove giving the hitter an easy triple.

“I hope he likes the weather in Albuquerque,” I said, implying that the AAA team would be his highest hope.

The woman in Dodgers apparel laughed and said: “You won’t believe this, but he’s probably our top prospect.”

“Good,” I said.

When the inning ended and the young player moped off the field, he was met by veteran outfielder Brett Butler, a Dodger who once was a popular Brave. Butler took him aside and showed him over and over how to properly go back on a fly ball like the one he had missed.

As the two walked back to the Dodgers dugout, I asked the woman how to pronounce the young player’s name: Mondesi.

Baseball fans will know that as an L.A. Dodger, Raul Mondesi was the NL Rookie of the Year Award in 1994 and later won two Gold Gloves for his defensive play. I wonder how much of his success was because a player moving toward the end of his career was willing to pass along what he had learned over the years.

The impact we make is not tied to what we accomplish through our own skills only. We expand our influence by helping others to learn and to grow.



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