This week, the New York Yankees baseball team announced the hiring of Rachel Balkovec as the manager of their minor league affiliate, the Tampa Tarpons. Ms. Balkovec, the first female manager in major league baseball history, is a milestone. For those of you who don’t follow baseball or have never read the book or seen the movie Moneyball, baseball is very slow to change, especially on social matters, so this is quite an achievement.
Minor league baseball doesn’t have the glamour and fame of the major leagues. The players are paid meager wages and sometimes struggle to afford housing. In speaking about helping these young men through these challenges, Ms. Balkovec noted that she is no stranger to hardship. “Three years ago on this day I was sleeping on a mattress I pulled out of a dumpster in Amsterdam.” She was in The Netherlands pursuing her second Masters degree at the time.
She’s also no stranger to discrimination in the sport. Several years ago, she noted that when looking for a position in Arizona during spring training, she was told outright that no one would hire a woman. Her resume submissions went unanswered until, on the suggestion of her sister, she started submitting them under the name Ray rather than Rachel.
What I found most inspiring was her perspective on the challenges and adversity that she endured on this journey. She said that, in a strange way, she was glad she faced that discrimination. She took the perspective that “this is going to be good for me in the future even if it doesn’t feel good in the moment.”
As noted in other editions, living in the moment is important, but we also need the balance provided by longer-term feelings of purpose and hope that inspire us to continue our pursuits despite roadblocks. For Ms. Balkovec, without the hope and desire to be a part of a sport she loves, the discrimination she faced and roadblocks in her way may have caused her to give up on that dream. May we all be blessed with the proper balance of living in the moment and longer-term purpose and dreams.
This week’s selection is:
The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music by Dave Grohl
Sixteen-time Grammy winner Dave Grohl cranks the story of his life to full volume in the chronicle of his rock and roll career. Growing up in the 1970s in Springfield, VA, Grohl followed the sound of his drumming all the way to the stage, from jamming with friends in high school to playing in the D.C. hardcore punk bank Scream, joining Kurt Cobain’s Nirvana in 1990, and eventually fronting his band, the Foo Fighters. Grohl’s uninterested in regaling readers with tales of backstage debauchery; instead, he candidly shares his reverence for the enduring power of music.