That mental toughness and focus is also necessary if a player has any thoughts of being a quality major league hitter.
“I used to drive to the games at Tiger Stadium with Bill Freehan and he would tell me that I wasn’t a good driving partner because I never said a word the entire ride,” Kaline said. Truth was, I was thinking about that night’s pitcher and how he pitched me the last time I faced him. We’d arrive at the stadium and I wouldn’t remember anything about the drive. I’s a miracle I didn’t get us killed,”
Kaline had a reputation as being stoic at the ballpark and it was a reputation born from focus.
“I was always criticized because I never smiled on the field,” he said. My wife always used to ask me why I would never wave to her in the stands. That’s how focused I was.”
Kaline’s focus and mental toughness was also the result of a fear of embarrassing himself on the field. So to was his decision to retire when he did, instead of prolonging his career and collecting a paycheck.
He finished his career with 399 home runs and instead of coming back for one more year to reach 400, Kaline called it quits. “I could see that I had lost my skills and I didn’t want to hang around and embarrass myself,” he said. “I never wanted to take a paycheck if I felt I didn’t earn it.”
It’s a refreshing attitude that isn’t always prevalent in today’s game.
Posted: March 25, 2013 at 04:35 AM | 34 comment(s)
Login to Bookmark