Putting Your Talent to Use

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By Kirk McCarley

“Your talent is God’s gift to you.  What you do with it is your gift back to God.”  Leo Buscaglia

Nearly a century ago, in 1920, he cracked 54 home runs, more than all but one other major league team!  The runner up that year, George Sisler, had just over a third of that number at 19 round trippers.

He went on to hit a career total of 714, a record holding until 1974.  So prolific a ballplayer was he that a candy bar carried his namesake.

Many would argue that George Herman “Babe” Ruth was the most dominant player to have ever graced America’s professional baseball diamonds.  What was it about Ruth that distinguished him from his contemporaries and still to this day holds him in the highest esteem?

Two research professors at Columbia University made it their mission to find out.  Following a game in 1921, Ruth was shepherded out of Yankee Stadium and into the research lab for a battery of tests.  The objective: to determine how and why his skills were unparalleled.

The tests included a series of not only motor function and pencil-paper examinations, but also exercises in which Ruth assumed his hitting stance and responded to bat and ball stimuli.  The results were remarkable even considering the more rudimentary nature of scientific study existing then.

The findings revealed:

  • Babe Ruth’s brain recorded sensations quicker and transmitted its orders to the muscles faster than did that of the average man.
  • His coordination of eye, brain, nerve system, and muscle was practically perfect.
  • His eyes were about 12% faster than the average human being.
  • His ears functioned 10% faster.
  • His nerves were steadier than 499 out of 500 individuals sampled.
  • In attention and quickness of perception he rated one and half times above the human average.

Babe Ruth was an original:  an icon whose feats have lived through the ages.  He left behind a legacy so ingrained that Yankee Stadium continues to be referred to as “the house that Ruth built.”  Yet are not each of us unique, one-of-a-kinds?

Though we may not hit towering home runs or throw 100 mile an hour fastballs, even the most modest possess a unique skill, a talent, hidden though it may be.

At a super market works a young man with Down’s Syndrome.  He sacks groceries, a job involving significant public interaction, yet a task that some would call unglamorous.  This sacker, however, devised a plan to inject excitement into an otherwise mundane assignment. For it is on a small piece of paper inserted into their grocery sack that each of bag boy Johnny’s customers receives a note with his “thought for the day.”  The market now has an unanticipated problem: overcrowding at one very special check out line.

So what do you have?  How are you special? Who can use your skill or talent?  You can’t hit a baseball to save your life. You lack Johnny’s creativity. Oh, to have a special gift.  Perhaps my best talent is on display at major league baseball games. When a player’s batting average is posted on the scoreboard, .265 for instance, and he gets a base hit in that at bat to go to .286 I calculate instantly that he now has 10 hits in 35 at bats.  If he gets a hit his next time up his average will go to .306, if not, down to .278. Can’t explain how I figure it out and don’t know what the career field is for that skill. Perhaps it parlays into work with a sports programming network.