What We Can Learn From a Grandpa, Some Baseballs, and a Note That’s Leaving People in Tears
“I’m just shocked, really. I thought I was just giving away some baseballs.” This was 72-year old Randy Long’s response when Good Morning America host Hoda Kotb asked him how it felt that his story was being spread to millions around the country.
I first learned about the baseballs and the note from my mom. She told me I’d love this message about cherishing times with your loved ones, shared by a grandfather about his son and grandson. Coincidentally enough, I was with my mom at my childhood home when she told me, and onto the television screen popped Hota Kotb interviewing Randy Long and his grandson Ethan Anderson. It was a moment with my mom I will always cherish. It was such a wonderful coincidence.
The story is not rather complex. Long found a bucket of old baseballs in his home and dropped them off at a local batting cage with a note on it. It evokes a sense of warmth and nostalgia. The note was as follows:
Hope someone can use some of these baseballs in the batting cages. I found them cleaning my garage. I pitched them to my son and grandson for countless rounds. My son is now 46 y/o and my grandson is 23 y/o. I am 72 and what I won’t give to pitch a couple of buckets to them. They have both moved away. If you are a father cherish these times. You won’t believe how quickly they will be gone.
P.S. Give them a hug and tell them you love them every chance you get.
According to Dr. David Ludden, “experimental evidence indicates that nostalgia is experienced as an overwhelmingly positive emotion. It has the effect of boosting one’s mood as well as increasing a sense of meaning in life. It also raises self-esteem and optimism for the future.”
I hope this note and this story are what you need right now. I see fundamental messages about humanity that are simple, yet often overlooked. Of course, love of family and appreciating those around you are tremendously important, but these messages are a little less obvious.
1. Material Objects are Not Always Bad
There is a stigma against materialism. I must admit, I have it too. It’s egotistical to purchase the watch, buy somebody that necklace, or get a new sports car. But material items can sometimes come with an extraordinary amount of sentimental value.
Researcher L.J. Shrum at The University of Texas at San Antonio proposes that materialism isn’t all bad. Rather, it comes down to buying motives. If purchases are meant to enhance one’s freedom or heighten one’s level of joy, then the material object may in fact do more good than harm.
One of the fathers of psychology William James once said, “A man’s self is the sum total of all that he can call his.”
With the case of Long and Anderson, these baseballs, nothing flashy by any means — had a motive far beyond that of purchasing material objects. The baseballs were part of an experience, and experiences, especially ones like these that we may never have again, are meant to be cherished.
2. Don’t Do Everything for Recognition
One of the most ironic, endearing, and comical aspects of this story was when Anderson shared that his grandfather knew basically nothing about social media. “I thought I was just giving away some baseballs,” Long said. He wasn’t trying to share this message with millions, and he certainly wasn’t attempting or planning on going viral. He just wanted one person to take the balls and enjoy the batting cages.
True character is defined by what you do when nobody else is watching. It’s how you treat telephone operators, speak to service workers, and even now communicate with online support. It’s about recognizing your own positive characteristics as opposed to seeking recognition from others. According to Dr. Karen Hall, validation is the “recognition and acceptance” of someone else’s experience. Self-validation is the ability to recognize and acknowledge your own internal experience. Self-validation will allow you the peace of mind you need to perform actions for you, not others.
3. You Don’t Need Complexity to Inspire the World
Innovation is a wonderful thing and advancing society through sophisticated technological means is certainly worthwhile. But complexity is not always necessary when the world needs inspiration. This small note with this short and sweet message is a prime example.
Even in the business world simplicity is mostly king. In an interview from Forbes, Peter Horst head of CMO Network shares that 55% of consumers claim they’ll pay more for a brand that delivers a simpler experience. 64% say they’ll recommend brands with simpler experiences and communications. Innovation is wonderful, but sometimes inspiration can be found right before your eyes.
Cherish These Moments
Whether it’s hitting the batting cages with your dad and grandpa or watching some tv with your mom, it is crucial to cherish these moments. If this year has taught us anything it’s that anything can happen at any moment, so being grateful for the here and now is essential. Enjoy these times you have with friends, family and loved ones.
P.S. Give them a hug (if possible) and tell them you love them every chance you get.
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