October 24, 2011

Grounders: Boys, Men, and a Baseball Adventure

With the 2011 World Series in the air, it's a great time to think about baseball. I remember the fall pick-up games in the evening at the local park when I was a kid. Cool nights under the lights, smell of leaves in the air, the hard feel of the ball, and all the fun of having every young male from my small tribe gathered in one place to play the game. Baseball was a big part of so many boys' lives as they were growing up. The connection to other young guys, the physical activity, a code of behavior, being on a team, competition, and often having good men on the sidelines creates a very compelling mix for a young male, and good for him too.

Tom Slone is a man who loves baseball, kids, and he also understands the critical differences good men can make in boys' lives. When he put those passions together, he wound up creating an amazing adventure in which three men accompanied a pack of boys, to see 10 Major League Baseball games, in 10 different cities, and they did it all in 21 days! You have to love boys and baseball to pull that off.

Because Tom is also a mentor, business man, and natural teacher, he consolidated the story about the boys and baseball centered adventure into a book titled Grounders: A Once-in-a-Lifetime Journey of Baseball, History, and Mentoring. The book is full of great baseball tidbits, fun boy-on-the-road stories, and 33 life lessons drawn from their trek. Lessons which can improve anyone’s batting average in life.

Some of the wisdom embedded in Grounders lessons include pearls such as, “It’s OK to Look Back at the Past, Just Don’t Stare; “Help People Be Successful; and one of my favorites, “The Power of Recognition.” As with most of the 33 lessons in the book, the boys on the trip got a chance to experience The Power of Recognition working in real life. During the trip, one of their challenges was to catch people being good at what they do and then actually write them a note of affirmation. Tom helped the boys to learn that by appreciating others, you earn their gratitude, and you get to feel good too. Nice.

The heart of the book for me is how much Tom and the other men care about their young male traveling companions, and how they keep the boys thinking about the men they will become. As they travel from city to city and visit different ballparks, we go along as Tom pulls life-lessons toward the boys. He’s not only offering these young guys the trip of a lifetime, but in so many ways, he makes sure they extract important notions about life that will help them on their journey toward manhood.

In my research with men for the Man-Making book, “the coach” is often described as someone who had an important and often life-shaping influence in their lives. In Grounders, Tom and the other two men not only show up as great coaches, but also as allies, mentors, friends, and co-journeymen on one amazing baseball expedition.

If you like baseball and the idea of helping boys become good men, you’ll love Grounders. You can learn more about Tom Slone at the book’s website and you can order the book from Amazon at this link.

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1 comment:

  1. Earl:

    Thanks for this post. I grew up playing baseball, basketball, football and any other sport that had a ball involved. I made great lifelong friends with my coaches, teammates and even opponents.

    I still correspond and occasionally see former coaches and friends I played with as a young boy. It all started with my dad. He was a coach and I followed him everywhere! I was a gym rat and spent countless hours shooting baskets while he was working with his team on one end of the court or working in the locker room. I had the gym to myself and I was in all my glory. He didn't have a job, he played for a living!

    He coached me in baseball and taught me how to keep score. When he was coaching a team of older boys, I kept score, shagged foul balls, and was the bat boy. Your post elicited many fond memories of the life I lived as a young boy growing up and developing into the person I am today because of the mentoring and bonding coaches, older athletes and teammates I grew to know and shape me into me.

    I wouldn't be who I am if it hadn't been for sports and belonging to a team.

    Thanks again.




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