Lessons from Cal

September 07, 2009 | Paul Hoke

September 6, 1995. Fourteen years ago yesterday. Wow. Has it really been that long? Has it been that long since my boyhood idol took the field for his 2,131st consecutive game? The answer of course, is yes. I can still remember sitting in the living room of my father’s house in East Baltimore, watching the events of that evening unfold. I was 19 years old, and I can still remember what my step mother fixed for dinner that night. And I still remember the lessons that I learned.

To clarify, most of life’s lessons, I have learned from my father. A great man, from whom I have learned the value of a hard day’s work, showing up when you are called upon, and not asking anyone for anything, including thanks. All of this my dad taught me, through nothing more then his daily routine. But there’s a footnote to that. And that’s the lessons I learned from Cal.

To me, September 6, 1995 was the culmination of nothing more then showing up for work everyday, no matter how you feel, and doing your job. Of course my dad taught me that, but Cal always reinforced it. He was a sports superstar who always played that game the way everyday people go about their lives. If you are supposed to work that day, you show up, and you work. In my line of work, there’s no TV cameras, or pregame fluff shows. It’s just, showing up for work when you are supposed to, and giving the best effort you’ve got. And that is what Cal did from the moment his career began, to the day it ended. He was my idol. Cal’s career began when I was 5 years old, and finished when I was 25. He was my idol, I wanted to be like Cal. Not just because he was a great baseball player, but because as I got older, the more Cal embodied all the values that my dad was trying to teach me. And through Cal, dad’s messages made sense.

So as we ponder the significance of the anniversary of 9-6-95, I can honestly say that it holds a little deeper meaning for me. It represents the lessons of my father, lessons I’m trying hard to teach my children, but it also represents the lessons I learned from Cal. Lessons that I take with me, because they were in conjunction with the things my dad taught me.

And that, is what September 6, 1995 means to me. Thank you Cal…again.