And here’s another thought: if you give up, you’re giving up on yourself—ever think of that? I was thinking about two such situations, and I’d like to share them with you. First, there was a young (high-school) pitcher who had inexplicably lost the feel of his curveball and couldn’t get it back. He was ready to give up—and then one day he attended a pitching workshop conducted by my wise and wonderful pitching coach at a playing field near Yankee Stadium. I was watching, and that pitching coach—Eddie Lopat—suddenly sized up the situation; he seemed to have a sixth sense about things like that. He walked over to the kid and told him: “Get off the mound, sit down, and pick up a baseball. Feel it. Feel all 108 seams on that ball. Feel the smooth surface of that ball. Get the entire sense of that ball; let it talk to you. Next day, get up on the mound, but don’t throw the ball—repeat the same sequence I just told you. A day later, go into the bullpen, and stand there on the mound and repeat the same sequence—then get a grip that you use when throwing a curve, and think about what you just did, and get the sense of what it’s like to throw a good curve Really think about it, let it get inside your head. A day later, go back into the bullpen with a catcher in tow, have him set up with a mitt and perhaps a mask, and then repeat this same sequence—and then throw ten, fifteen curveballs, always keeping in mind the sense of what it feels like to throw a good curveball. Nothing else matters at that moment—just throw a good curveball.” The kid got his curveball back, got the real feel for the pitch, and never had another problem with it. It became his best pitch.
The other instance was not so lucky. The Cincinnati Reds had a pitcher named Jay Hook who when he was good was very, very good but when he was bad he stank on hot ice. On one occasion he stank, and then some; he was lambasted from here to the moon, every pitch being turned into line-drive base hits, and in the fifth inning he had to be removed from the game. He returned to the dugout and sat down in a corner and bemoaned the loss of his fastball. “Without my fastball I can’t pitch.” Reliever Jim Brosnan, who might have made a very good pitching coach had he been so inclined, tried in vain to explain to him that “No one has all his good stuff every time out. That’s when you learn this game. You have other pitches to throw; use them when your fastball isn’t there.” Hook didn’t hear him; he just sat there and moaned and wailed “Without my fastball I can’t pitch” over and over again. The poor fish didn’t last very long in the majors after that. He had given up on himself because of one pitch—whereas the kid at the workshop listened to what Lopat had told him, followed instructions, and got the feel for his pitch back.
Now—what does that tell you? 8)