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My First Pitch

I was invited to speak to the East Carolina University (ECU) baseball team as well as a business event for leaders in Greenville, North Carolina.

A few weeks before my visit, the event organizers (Pirate Radio) asked if I wanted to throw out the first pitch at the ECU baseball game.

My first thought was, “That would be fun,” but it was followed by “What if I throw it into the dirt and embarrass myself and it becomes one of the worst first pitches on YouTube seen by millions of people.”

I was about to say no thanks when a voice within my soul said, “Aren’t you the guy who encourages people to live fearlessly and go for it. Don’t you tell people to live inside-out and love the moment instead of fearing the outcome. Aren’t you the guy who helps pro and college athletes perform at a higher level.”

If I didn’t do this, I wouldn’t be living what I teach and couldn’t live with myself.

I had to do it even though I hadn’t thrown a baseball in years. Baseball was my first love but ever since trading in my glove for a lacrosse stick in high school I rarely played.

If I was going to throw a first pitch I would have to practice. Thankfully I was going to speak to the Colorado Rockies during spring training a week before I was expected to throw out the first pitch. Hopefully they could help me get ready.

My friend and baseball legend Clint Hurdle assembled a few of the guys to help me. Steve Foster, the pitching coach, gave me his glove. Nolan Jones had me throw a few pitches to him. And Bobby Meacham, who played shortstop for the New York Yankees and is now a manager for the Rockies Double A team, had a catch with me.

The coolest thing of all is that I watched Bobby Meacham play in Yankee Stadium as a teenager and now he was helping me get ready for my first, first pitch. It’s amazing what happens when you step out of fear and into faith.

A week later I traveled to Greenville, North Carolina with my bags, my new glove and a baseball. All I could think about was the first pitch. I practiced my throwing motion in the airport and in my hotel room. I laughed at the fact that at 53 years old, this pitch was such a big deal to me. But I realized it was more than a pitch. It was about overcoming fear, being uncomfortable, being bold, taking a risk, going for it and being willing to fail.

They announced my name, I ran onto the field, I stood on the rubber mound, and I threw the ball right to the catcher’s glove. Mission accomplished. A feeling of joy and relief.

Some say it was a strike. I think it might have been just a little high and outside, but I’ll take it.

My first, first pitch thankfully didn’t hit the dirt! You can watch it here.

But even if it did, I would have been glad that I went for it and failed rather than not try at all.

Life is so often a test of overcoming fear with faith.

Each time we let fear dominate our decisions we become weaker, and our world becomes smaller.

Each time we choose faith, we grow stronger, and our world and impact expands.

-Jon

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