Leader Lessons from a 1959 Little League Game

By | August 8, 2019

[August 8, 2019] Upon entering First Grade, my buddies and I became eligible to join the town’s only Little League Baseball Team. We loved the sport like true fans love any great baseball team. But it was our first game as new-fangled team players. Yet, we were taught several leader lessons that followed us the rest of the season and made us better kids.

If you were to look back in time to rural Northeast Louisiana, you would find that things are different when compared to today. Sixty years ago there was no air-conditioning, no video games or mobile phones, and nothing for a kid to do in school except be a good Little League baseball player. We were all friends in the First Grade, and the teacher expected nothing less. We always played by the rules.

If my memory is correct, there were seven boys and seven girls in my class. The school wasn’t important to any of us boys, and we went there because our mommas told us to. Baseball was the point of life, and we revealed in thinking about it. I distinctly remember the prior year in 1958 when the New York Yankees (my team since I was old enough to watch TV) won the World Series after coming from behind 1-3 games.  Here are the lessons from my first game; a 1959 Little League Game:

  1. Our first lesson was that to win any game; it takes practice. And, practice takes a great coach who is willing to instill discipline and determination in the players. He has to know the right thing to do, clearly articulate his way of doing those things, and be strong mentally and physically. You had to show up for practice every time.
  2. Another lesson was good sportsmanship. As one of the players, if you cussed, called other team members names, or in any way misbehaved; you were off the team. For example, our coach expected us to shake the hands of every player on the opposing team both before and after the game; and wish them a good game.
  3. A baseball player had to show he contributed to the community. It wasn’t good enough just to be a churchgoer or demonstrate the Golden Rule; although these were important. Each team player had to show that he would help other folks in town. So we spent time cleaning up our school’s playground, picking up coke bottles (we got 2 cents each), and helping our teacher erase the blackboard at the end of the school day. In school, it was called “citizenship,” and our teachers took it seriously enough that we were graded daily.
  4. You had to have good grades in school. Yep, you might be the best player on the team, but grades were more important, and our coach made that clear. If you made a “C” grade in any subject, you were off the team. Since being a Little League baseball player was our most important objective in life, we studied to ensure our grades were acceptable. I remember more than once making a “C,” and it horrified me.

There are many lessons we all learned from childhood. Being part of a baseball team helped instill those lessons quicker than otherwise. Every boy in my class was on the team, and to be kicked off would be the ultimate disgrace. We prospered and occasionally won a regional championship. I still remember some of the games and I’m also still a New York Yankees’ fan, 60 years later.

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

22 thoughts on “Leader Lessons from a 1959 Little League Game

  1. Joe the Aussie

    Win at any cost was not one of those lessons. In my growing up, playing the game was what was most important. It was important so that other boys would continue to play with you. It meant sometimes you didn’t win every game. Imagine that. Cheers!

  2. Jonathan B.

    I enjoyed your article. Using your past as a young boy to reinforce regular-well established human points makes for easy reading and easy remembering.

  3. Mike Baker

    Great article that should be read by everyone, especially young boys and girls. This is what we should be teaching kids in school, not some of the stupid things mandated by clueless politicains.

    1. Ed Berkmeister

      Good point Mike. We have gone beyond what school is really about and now it’s a place to learn leftist propaganda.

  4. Walter H.

    Another enjoyable article from Mr. Satterfield. Thank you!

    1. JT Patterson

      Walter, we usually refer to him as “General Satterfield” or “Gen” for short. Anyway, I’m sure he doesn’t mind as long as you’re reading his articles. Great to have you as a regular contributor to this leadership blog.

  5. Georgie M.

    Do we even teach good sportsmanship anymore? Do kids even know what it means or have they even heard the word? Winning is important but if you don’t win by playing by the rules, practicing, and working hard at it, then I don’t think a win is a real win.

      1. Willie Shrumburger

        A good quote from the article and the main theme: “There are innumerable parallels between what it takes to be successful both in real life and on the playing field. “

      2. lydia truman

        The ideas are simple:
        Play fair
        Be a team player
        Stay positive
        Keep the trash talk to a minimum
        Lose gracefully
        Win with class
        Respect rulings of the officials.

        1. Janna Faulkner

          Thanks lydia. Haven’t heard from you in a while. We all hope you’ve been well.

  6. Ronny Fisher

    Wow, you certainly had a tough coach. I wish he had been my coach.

  7. Greg Heyman

    Great article; very entertaining and educational. Well done!

  8. Army Captain

    For those who may be interested, those boys (and girls too) who come to the US military and are from homes that encouraged playing sports, are much better at being in the military life. Why? I’m sure some psychologist will say it’s the “conscientiousness” that they possess; a personality trait. But I say it’s simply good family upbringing.

    1. Max Foster

      Army Captain, I like that you always cut to the heart of the matter. Yes, families matter and matter a great deal. Those who believe families are a thing of the past will soon be like the dinosaur.

      1. Eric Coda

        Very true. I see this where I work. Folks discourage you from getting married and from having kids; like that somehow will help SAVE THE PLANET. Which this is all a bunch of bunk. The good news is that those whackos will not pass their stupidity along to their kids.

    2. Anita

      Yes! Conscientiousness and intelligence are the two main predictors of doing well in the world today. Except if you are an entrepreneur which requires more creativity. Well said, Army Cpt. Thanks.

  9. Darryl Sitterly

    Your tales from your childhood takes me back a number of years to when our family spent time together playing and traveling. Great article. Thank you Gen. Satterfield for your blog and knowing how to push back the curtain on the way it was.

    1. Yusaf from Texas

      Same here. Good to hear from you again, Darryl.

      1. Darryl Sitterly

        Thanks Yusaf. I certainly enjoy being on this website and read it everyday. It helps me start my day at work and helps me with my home life too.

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