Reflections of Glory Days — The Boss Turns 65 & The Captain Retires
Next week has been on my mind for awhile now. Bruce Springsteen celebrates his 65th Birthday on the 23rd and Yankees legend Derek Jeter plays his last regular season home games. It’s hard to believe both are actually happening, and even more surprising, they’re taking place at the same time.
For Jeter, who was born in Jersey and spent many summers there throughout his youth visiting his grandparents, his pending retirement from baseball at the age of 41, summons a familiar Springsteen lyric: we ain’t that young anymore. Jeter’s Major League debut came in 1995, two years after I graduated College. As an ex-shortstop, I’ve followed and admired Jeter’s career from the beginning. No ballplayer from my generation has done it better or longer, than the Yankee Captain.
We already know Springsteen’s a well documented baseball and Yankees fan. He’s told stories on stage of little league games growing up, and of course, wrote the hit song, Glory Days, about a high school baseball player who “could throw that speed ball by you.” And don’t forget in the 70's, he led the E Street Kings to many softball victories around Freehold and across the country.
In 2007, he played alongside Yankee great, Bernie Williams, during Joe Torre’s Safe at Home charity gala.
He’s been seen at games with his daughter wearing a Yankees hat…..
And more recently, he was photographed checking out Mariano Rivera’s autobiography.
When it comes to their respective legacies, these icons share a similar devoted approach to their life long work — an unrelenting passion and determination to be the best. They never relied on their talents to just get by — hard work, along with an extraordinary inner drive, propelled them to greatness.
Springsteen’s repeatedly stated, “More than rich, more than famous, more than happy, I wanted to be great.”
Jeter said, “My parents always felt if I worked hard enough I could make any dream come true.” He added, “I think it comes easy to work hard. I was always taught, don’t short-change yourself. Keep working to get better.”
“Work” is one of the more prominent themes among Springsteen’s vast body of work. From the cold realism found in his 1978 song, Factory, that told the story of his father going to work each day, day after day, to the idealistic tune of 2009's Working on a Dream, Bruce knows it’s a man’s work which often defines him.
Besides the dollars we make, work gives us pride, purpose and a sense of accomplishment. The physcological impact of work cannot be understated. Without work, we often feel less valued, and at times, hopeless. Bruce saw this happen to his father, a man who struggled his entire life with steady employment, working a variety of jobs with the sole intention to support his family. For him, work was anything, but fun. Bruce became determined not to follow in his father’s footsteps.
Understanding that hopelessness and despair is a by product from a lack of fulfilling work; Bruce, instead, early on, adopted The Animals “We Gotta’ Get Out of This Place” as a career anthem — things can get better — they will get better — because I’m going to make it better. It’s why he’s hailed and so revered by the working class — he offers us hope for a brighter tomorrow that those romantic dreams in our head can one day ring true.
Tomorrow there’ll be sunshine
And all this darkness past
Big wheels roll through fields
Where sunlight streams
Oh meet me in a land of hope and dreams
In a 1984 interview with MTV’s Mark Goodman, Bruce declared, “The most important message really, is, don’t sell yourself short.”
At 42, I think a lot about the work I have left. I’m still searching for a connection, and for that regular work which fills my bank account; but more importantly, drives my soul. Without it, I’m like an incomplete character in a Springsteen song, endlessly drifting — waiting, searching, yearning for some meaning. A man needs his work. It’s “who we are, what we’ll do and what we won’t.”
Once Bruce picked up the guitar for real as a teenager, he never worked another job in his life. Music would become the only work The Boss would ever know. And at 65, he’s thankfully showing no signs of slowing down. Bruce made his acting and directorial debut earlier this year on a short film collaboration with Thom Zimny for “Hunter of Invisible Game.” Rumors continue to swirl of a brand new album and another world tour in 2015. And his first co-authored book, Outlaw Pete, based on his song of the same name, hits shelves Nov. 4.
Jeter’s only retiring from a baseball career. He’s not ready to stop working just yet. Like Bruce, Derek has an interest in book publishing. He’s already set up a partnership with magnate Simon & Schuster to go along with his Turn 2 Foundation. The transition from full-time player to full-time businessman won’t be an easy one, but you can be certain The Captain will work to make it a successful one.
Nothing is more satisfying for a man to be able to earn a living from doing what he loves to do…and then, to do it extraordinarily well is….beyond his wildest thoughts. While we can’t all be Hall of Fame baseball players or rock stars; hopefully, we can find work that enriches our lives — and we can all look back one day and think fondly of those Glory Days.
Steve Matoren is a writer/producer/director living in Los Angeles. One of his glory days came, in fact, on the baseball diamond, back in high school, when he caught the last out to give his team the Florida 2A State Championship. He still has the ball.
Steve can be reached via twitter @imaliveoutthere or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org