Posts tagged: jack cust

Inspiring Your Audience

I wrote this and delivered it as speech number ten for my “Competent Communicator” designation in Toastmasters. I hope you enjoy it. The purpose of the speech is to inspire your audience.

“Never Give Up, Never Surrender.”

That is what Tim Allen says throughout the 1999 movie “Galaxy Quest.” It’s kind of corny, but I like the movie and the quote. In the movie Tim Allen plays Peter Taggart, the captain of a starship and crew on a weekly television show. It’s totally a parody of Star Trek. Real, friendly aliens from another galaxy watch his show after the television signal travels through space to reach them. They base their whole society around the show. Those aliens are on the verge of being wiped out by real, unfriendly, unattractive aliens. They come to earth to recruit Tim Allen and his crew to help them. They don’t realize that Tim is just an actor on a television show. Naturally, Tim and his crew never give up and never surrender, although of course it looks hopeless for a while.

Jack Cust was signed to a professional baseball contract by the Arizona Cardinals after he graduated from high school in 1997. He went right to the minor leagues and stayed there for 10 years. He made very brief appearances in the big leagues with 5 different teams, but always went back down to the minor leagues. In 2007 he was playing for the San Diego Padres in the minor leagues.

He told his agent to see if he could get him a contract with a team in Japan. On May 2, 2007 his agent called him and told him that 2 teams in Japan were interested. Twenty minutes later his agent called him back to say that the Oakland Athletics wanted him to be their designated hitter. (Mike Piazza had gotten injured and the A’s needed a new designated hitter.) He is in his 4th season now with Oakland.

The July 31, 2007 Sports Illustrated has a story about him called “The Legend of Jack Cust“. The last paragraph of the article says: Cust was five years old and sitting behind first base at Yankee Stadium when he first told his father that he wanted to be a professional ballplayer. “As long as I can remember my goal was to be a big league player — to make it in the big leagues,” says the legend. “I keep saying that this, right now, is my last chance at it. But really, it’s my first.”

Jack never gave up. Not even this year when he was sent to the A’s AAA team in Sacramento to start the season. I admire him for that.

In 1994 I found out that I did not get a job with Bell Atlantic that I had interviewed for and had wanted for a long time. I was crushed and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. I put on a suit, grabbed a copy of my resume and went down the street to talk to a small company that sold computers. A few minutes after I got back home, about an hour later, I got a phone call. It was an offer from Bell Atlantic to start working for them on Monday. This was a different job than I had originally applied for, but it turned out to be the best job I ever had, at more than twice the money I would have accepted, and I ended up working for them for 12 years. I went from despair to wahoo in an hour. You just never now what might happen if you don’t give up.

In 1967 I was the starting pitcher on Hamilton PAL, a Babe Ruth League team in Yardville, New Jersey. I was 14 years old and Jack Cust’s father was the center fielder. Bob Demeo was the catcher on the team (Demeo Field in Veterans Park, Hamilton, NJ is named for him.) I couldn’t throw a curve ball to save my life. Bobby always put down a 1 for a fastball. I would shake him off and try to throw my curve ball. I can still see him shaking his head in disgust. I lost every game I pitched that year except for one and my arm hurt. I still wanted to pitch though.

In 1968, I was 15 and I taught myself to throw a great curve ball. I can’t remember how I learned. I think I just experimented in practice until I got it right. Jack Cust was still the center fielder, but I had a new, younger catcher. That one pitch made all the difference. I could throw it for a strike whenever and wherever I wanted. I won every game I pitched that year except for one that I lost, 1 to 0. I shared the leagues best pitcher award that year with Kenny Andrews, another pitcher on my team. 1967 was a terrible year and I could have given up. But I knew that I could do a lot better. I didn’t give up and 1968 was a great year.

Let’s go further back in the “wayback” machine.

June 4, 1940
Winston Churchill’s “We Shall Fight Them on the Beaches” speech to the House of Commons following, “Operation Dynamo,” the evacuation of 338,000 Allied troops from Dunkirk, France to England during WWII. These are the last few sentences of Winston Churchill’s speech.

“Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.

I’m certain that Winston Churchill meant every word he said. He was the right man, at the right time, in the right place.

I very good friend of mine, Larry Lewis, used to say, ” The only way you don’t get what you want is you either give up or you die.”

I’m not giving up. Don’t you give up either.

In the immortal words of Captain Taggart, “Never give up. Never surrender.”

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