“Don’t take one thing for granted. Not a single thing. Because when it’s gone it’s gone. Love and enjoy your teammates. You’re surrounded by some of the best players in the world and guess what, you’re one of them kid! Believe in your abilities day in and day out and never, ever let off the gas. Play this game like you know someone is coming for your job and today could be the last time you ever put on a big league uniform.”
—Former Boston Red Sox rookie sensation Will Middlebrooks, now retired, giving advice to current Red Sox rookie sensation Michael Chavis through an interview with Boston radio station WEEI’s Rob Bradford.
Although Middlebrooks’ sage advice was given in the context of playing Major League Baseball, it applies equally well to all passions, pursuits, opportunities, privileges, jobs, pleasures, honors, relationships, and professions, as well as love, youth, and life in general. It is the present day Will Middlebrooks telling his younger self what he wishes he had understood before it was too late.
Middlebrooks learned the hard way. In 2012 Will Middlebrooks was Michael Chavis, a young top third base prospect for the Sox, whose rookie season promised a long career and perhaps even superstardom. He never had a good season again, and soon began the hard journeyman’s life of injuries, trips back and forth to the minor leagues, more failure, trades, and ultimately defeat: Middlebrooks is just 30-years old, mid-career for a successful major leaguer, and it’s all over.
Will learned the right life’s lessons though. He’ll be all right.
He also told Chavis, who hit two home runs last night, his 5th and 6th in the first two weeks of his Red Sox career while getting four hits, this in his public advice..
Oh, and one more thing. When you step out on the field at Fenway take a look around. Smell it. Listen to it. Look at it. The history of players that have stood exactly where you are standing is second to none. You’ll never experience a better place to play baseball. No better fans, no better city, definitely no better place to be. So truly be in the moment.
Being in the moment—perhaps the hardest life skill to master of all.