Pete Rose, the all time hit leader in major league baseball, once made the statement that he would be the first player to earn six figures hitting singles. This was the era in baseball when the big money went to the homerun hitters.  Statistics have proven, however, that more games have been won by hitting singles than homeruns. The glory always seems to go to the big hitter, but often the victory was because of the guy who just continued to get the singles.

A friend called this past week and asked me this simple question: “How important is it to hit a few singles in life?” For a philosopher like myself, this started me thinking. Let me share some of my thoughts with you, along with a couple of examples.

“Do you still attend church?” the old man was asked. “No,” he replied. “You see, my wife and I never missed for more than 25 years, until she got sick with cancer. Her name was on the prayer list and I’m sure some lifted her up in prayer. But it got very lonely here at home taking care of her by myself. No one ever called or visited, and I guess you might say, I got a little depressed.”

“She passed away just over a year ago, and a few showed up at the funeral,” he went on. “After that, there were no phone calls or visits for this old man, and the loneliness has about whipped me down. I guess I just lost faith in what the church stood for.”

Maybe a single in life from a fellow church member would have changed his outlook. This life’s single would read something like this: “I can’t do everything, but I can do something.” How many times have you heard someone say they hated to visit someone in a stressful situation because they just didn’t know what to say? Maybe they thought a homerun was needed when a single would have been the answer. A hug can often say more than a long philosophical analysis. A hug may not be a homerun, but remember, more games are won with singles than homeruns.

I recall another incident many years ago when a friend and businessman on Main Street got in trouble with the law. It was front page news and he ended up paying a thousand dollar fine for his mistake. His business began to fall off, and he felt alone and wondered what the future held for him and his family. I visited him shortly after the incident and asked how he was doing after all the publicity. “It’s been tough,” he said. “But the hardest part has been that so many of my friends have not been by to check on me.” Then he added, “I wonder if they really were my friends.”

A short visit. A “How are you doing?” Or just a hug may not seem like much. But to a struggling person, it may be the lifeline they need. And keep in mind, more games are won with singles than homeruns.  

And now, to answer my friend’s question of how important is it to hit a few singles in life. It is very important. And we should realize, while we can’t all be homerun sluggers, we can all hit a few singles. We may not make the headlines, but if we hit a few singles, we will make true the statement “we don’t have to be great to be great.”


George Lusby is the former Scott County judge-executive. “The Best of Crawfish and Minnows,” is available at the News-Graphic office.

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