Clearing the Bases by Mike Schmidt

I’m a big sports fan.  My favorite teams are the Eagles, the Bears, the Cubs, the Phillies, and the Bulls (I guess I’d throw the Flyers in there as my hockey team).  My favorite players of all time are probably Walter Payton (football), Julius Erving and Michael Jordan (basketball), and Mike Schmidt (baseball).  So when Leanne gave me Clearing the Bases by Mike Schmidt as part of my birthday gift, I was clearly looking forward to hearing what Michael Jack Schmidt had to say about his playing career and about his thoughts about the current state of the game of baseball.

I wasn’t disappointed.

Schmidt talks about the ups and downs of his playing days from his insecurities to his 3 MVPs and World Series Championship.   Schmidt also shares about his feelings about the Steroid area, free agency, and Pete Rose.  (The book was written in 2006, so I would be curious to know if Schmidt’s views on the Steroid era have changed as more information has been disclosed since then.)  It was interesting to get his perspectives and each of these, but this wasn’t my biggest takeaway.

I was first of all surprised by Schmidt’s expression of his faith.  Growing up, I can’t remember hearing anything about his faith, so it was refreshing to hear this.  I’d love to sit down over a cup of coffee or lunch with the legend and talk more about our common bond.

The other thing that had a big impact on me was Schmidt’s discussion about managing.  Obviously, he was talking about managing baseball, but one paragraph in particular spoke to me as a manager and leader:

“The sixth and most important attribute of a good manager – and this one’s a straight fastball right down the middle – is the ability to communicate.  To be a good manager, you must be a good communicator.  That means being able to talk to your players, not at them.  You need to work at relating to them, but at the same time, you need to keep a respectful distance.  Show you care about them personally. You can’t just stroll out of your office into the clubhouse one day a week and fake it; you have to have a consistent presence.”

I’ll be hanging this one up in my office.

If you’re a baseball plan, I’d recommend this book.