Baseball. To some it is just a game. To others it is a passion. But no matter where one falls on this spectrum, there is a very valuable lesson to be learned from our nation’s greatest pastime. The old game has given us a century-plus worth of heroes: from Cobb to Ruth, Robinson to Mantle, Aaron to Jackson, and Jeter to Trout. These men have laced up their spikes and played a game that has brought heartache to some and joy to all.
The game of baseball creates for the fan an escape. Fathers bring their sons to a ballpark, and for that brief couple of hours they witness a game; inside a luxurious sanctuary of bleachers, hot dog vendors, souvenirs and baseball. Climbing the tunnel to their seats, you can see the son’s eyes light up as he witnesses the spectacle that is the vast outfield of perfectly groomed grass and baselines that look as if Degas himself painted them. It is the same reaction his dad had at his first game, and yet on this day the father and son share the same reaction. Nothing else matters on this day but the father and his son and the teams about to take the field. This is our great American Pastime.
Though much could be said about the pageantry with which the game is played or the escaped that is created during that nine-inning stretch; there is an aspect of this great game that transcends balls and strikes, home runs and strikeouts. It is a subtle lesson that can be easily overlooked, but when noticed pushes one beyond the foul lines and leaves them with possibly the greatest of all life’s lessons: failure learned from leads one to success.
Failure may be the greatest teacher of all time. The old adage says, “One learns more through defeat than they do in victory”. Why is this true? And if this is true, why have we shifted our thinking in society so that we shelter people, especially children, from failure? We give trophies for last place, participation ribbons and “atta boys” to everyone. We have shifted our thinking away from lessons to be learned in failure and focused our attention toward not letting anyone feel bad.
Just as in baseball, life is all about adjustments. When you make a mistake, you make corrections. As it has been said, “a mistake is only a mistake if it is not learned from”. By looking at two of the greater players to have ever played the game, one can see that failure is not the end all, but rather, something that can be learned from, adjusted to and moved passed. The two examples we will draw from are the all-time career batting average leader: Ty Cobb; and the all-time leader in wins for a pitcher: Cy Young. From these two men it is clear that failure is an aspect of the game—and life—that is constantly evident. The difference between these men and the average Joe was that they refused to be defined by their failures and made necessary adjustments to ultimately succeed.
As we look at these two examples one thing is certain, they were great players of the game. Cobb was a nose to the ground, spikes in the air kind of player, who got a reputation for his hard play. But at the end of his career in 1928, according to Baseball Reference, he held a lifetime batting average of .366. That number is a huge number when thinking in terms of a long-tenured career. As one thinks about that number, doing simple math, it is clear that for every ten at-bats, Cobb made an out on just under six and a half of them. In no other sport—or profession—can one be 3.6 for 10 and be considered one of the greatest to play the game. But not in baseball. That is the mark that has stood and will continue to stand for a years to come. The highest total for a current player is Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers who hits at a career mark of .321. It is a simple lesson, yet one that rings true, though you may fail you can adjust and have success. Ty Cobb understood this, the great ball players do; you adjust, make corrections and give it your best effort every at bat and every play.
The same rings true in life. If we all quit the moment we fail, we would never get anywhere. What if Edison had quit? What if Steve Jobs had quit when he was fired from the company he started? You may not be a Steve Jobs or a Thomas Edison, but you are you. And you are in the situations you are in for a specific purpose; do not quit at the first moment of failure; press on, move forward, make corrections and succeed. By making corrections Ty Cobb at the end of his career had collected 4,189 hits, a record that stood until 1985, 57 years after he last laced up the spikes and played the game.
The other example of the great lesson Baseball teaches us on life comes from Cy Young. Yes, that Cy Young. Not the trophy that is handed out at the end of the year for the premier pitcher in both leagues, but the guy that the trophy is named for. That Cy Young. Mr. Young totaled a win-loss record over his career of 511-316 in 815 starts. Now the math does not add up because he made appearances out of the bullpen to a tune of 906 games pitched in. Cy Young’s mark for wins is a record that has stood since 1911. The closest active player is Tim Hudson with 220, who is retiring at the end of the 2015 season. It is safe to say that this record will stand for another century at least. But even more than all the wins that he totaled, there is another category that Cy Young holds a record in: his 316 losses. Of the 906 games that Cy Young made an appearance in, he lost 35 percent of them. Yet, in a game that is triumphant with failure, he stands as the benchmark by which all other pitchers are judged. The lesson once again: when you fail—and you will fail—adjust, learn and move on.
As you make your way to a game, you will step up the tunnel to your seats and breathe the fresh air; you’ll see the vast outfield of perfect grass and as you watch a game you may be reminded of these two great players. For a couple of hours, this great game is affording you the opportunity of escaping. You are escaping from whatever curveball life may be throwing your way at that particular moment. But one thing is sure if you pay attention closely; no matter how many curveballs life throws your way, and no matter how many times you swing and miss, make adjustments, do not rest on failure and keep swinging. In doing so, you’ll eventually watch the ball fly out of the park as you circle the bases of life.
 Both of the above references are from: http://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/W_career.shtml