Perfection and Resiliency
Sandy Koufax, Bob Hendley, and Ernie Banks highlight what you need to survive in sales today.
150 years of Professional Baseball.
Over 218,400 games have been played.
And there have been only 23 Perfect Games.
27 Batters up. 27 Batters out. No hits, no walks, no errors. No runners on base.
No pitcher in the sport has ever thrown more than one.
An aside… I was in the stands of US Cellular in 2009 when Mark Buehrle of the Chicago White Sox threw his perfect game, saved by an incredible running, leaping, home-run robbing catch by late-inning defensive substitute Dewayne Wise. While it’s a different story for a different day, it is no doubt the greatest baseball game I have ever witnessed.
I was only 17 months old on September 9, 1965…
…too young to listen to the radio broadcast of Vin Scully calling what many baseball historians say is the greatest game ever played.
I recently finished reading Jane Leavy’s book, Sandy Koufax – A Lefty’s Legacy, which highlights the career of Sandy Koufax, with alternating chapters chronicling each inning of this monumental game played 55 years ago. It’s a great read!
In 1965, Koufax was having another record breaking season leading the Dodgers to yet another pennant. He would end up winning his second pitchers’ Triple Crown – most wins (26), lowest earned run average (2.04) and most strikeouts (382), he won 2 World Series games with a 3-hit shutout to clinch the final game 7, was named World Series MVP, captured his second unanimous Cy Young Award at the end of the season and was also voted Sports Illustrated magazine’s Sportsman of the Year award. A pretty good career for most pitchers, all wrapped up in one season!
By the time he faced the Cubs in September, he’d already thrown 3 no-hitters, one in each of the previous 3 years. He struck out 14 Cubs that night, future Hall of Famers Billy Williams twice and Ernie Banks three times. Not only did he strike out the last 6 batters he faced and 8 of the last 10 players who came to bat in the game but he struck out at least one batter in every inning and is still the only perfect game pitcher to attain that feat to date. Needless to say, he had “really good stuff” that evening in Los Angeles.
The mechanics of Perfection – R = F x C
Koufax’s career, the year of 1965 and the Perfect game in September are easy testaments to what it takes to be great in sales. In her book, Jane Leavy talks about how Sandy became a student of his mechanics, breaking down his movements and understanding them so much that he would become a coach and mentor to other pitchers in the Dodger’s organization years later.
At M3, we teach R = F x C where your Revenue or Results are a function of the Frequencies or Activities you perform (your mechanics if you will) multiplied by your Competencies or Skills. Sandy Koufax achieved success by knowing what he needed to do every time he pitched and then taking care of his body, mind and competitive spirit to achieve those goals. He didn’t just “wing it” and hope for success.
But that night in September, Koufax faced Cub’s pitcher Bob Hendley. A lifetime record of 48-52, he only pitched for 7 seasons, playing for 4 different teams in a shortened career because of elbow issues. Still, in 1965, he’s remembered for two classic pitcher’s duels, competing against a pitcher many regard as the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time!)
September 9, 1965, in the opponent’s stadium, Hendley matched Koufax inning for inning for the first 4 frames. A perfect game for both pitchers through the end of the fourth. Then, in the fifth, he walked a batter who moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt, stole third and scored on an error by the catcher. One run in, but still no hits. In fact, Hendley pitched a no-hitter into the seventh inning, the lone hit a bloop fly ball. One walk, one hit, one run and one loss!
“On the Schneid”
That night in September, Sandy Koufax held 3 future Hall of Fame Chicago Cub’s players hitless.
Ron Santo went 0 for 3 with 2 fly outs and a strikeout.
“Sweet Swinging” Billy Williams struck out twice and didn’t put a ball in play until the 7th, when he flied out to left field.
But Ernie Banks was definitely “on the schneid”, not only going hitless but striking out each time he went up to bat against Koufax.
In fact, Ernie and the Cubs were having a tough few weeks, en route to a disappointing 8th place finish of 72-90 that year. Before their 9/9/65 game in Los Angeles, they had lost 15 of their last 24 games and had been no-hit by the Cincinnati Reds in the middle of August. In that game, Jim Maloney, the Red’s pitcher gave up 10 WALKS (!!!) before winning the game in the 10th inning 1-0. Ernie Banks had another tough game, going 0 for 5 and hitting into the ONLY DOUBLE PLAY of the day to end the game.
The mechanics of Resiliency
So what do we take away from the losing side, today, from a game that was played 55 years ago?
I think we take away these words:
Resiliency. Tenacity. Persistence. Motivation. Competitive Fire.
Six days after losing the best pitched game of his lifetime on a walk, a lone bloop hit and an unearned run, Bob Hendley was victorious against the same Sandy Koufax, pitching a four-hitter and winning 2-1 at Wrigley Field. A lifetime sub-.500 pitcher would rise to the occasion for that one memorable week!
Years later he would say –
“We pitched against each other twice in six days. We both gave up two runs, we both allowed five hits, we both retired early (Hendley at 28, Koufax at 30), and we both had elbow problems.” “He was great,” Hendley said. “I was average”
“If you have to lose a game, he was the guy you were proud to lose to. To be beaten by class, beaten by the guy who is one of the best, if not THE best ever. Nothing wrong with that.”
Or we can take away these words / phrases:
Optimism. Pressing ahead. Putting your head down. Grinding it out. Staying the Course
Nobody exemplifies that more than Ernie Banks. Nicknamed “Mr. Cub” and “Mr. Sunshine” Ernie played for 19 seasons and is regarded as one of the greatest players of all times. 2,583 hits, 512 home runs, and 1,636 Runs batted in earned him an induction into Baseball’s Hall of Fame and a spot on the All-Century team.
“Let’s Play Two”
An O-fer day at the plate wasn’t enough to get Ernie down. Making the last out of a no-hitter? Big deal. There’s always another day and another game to play.
It’s the R = F x C again.
You can’t control the results.
What you can control is what you do every day and what attitude you’re going to bring to the field of play.
While others around you are waiting, whining and whimpering, you can keep preparing, prospecting, and pipelining.
Covid, crying and complaining? Not you, my friend! You’re being ProActive. With passion, poise, persuasiveness and power.
By focusing on the F and the C, you can keep your head while others are losing theirs.
You can trust in the process and know that you’ll achieve success by doing enough of the right things.
So it’s only fitting that the next time Ernie faced the Dodgers after Koufax’s perfect game, he helped his team win 2 straight games, in the second he went 3-5 against another future Hall of Famer, Don Drysdale with a double and a run batted in!
“It’s a Beautiful Day for a Ballgame!”
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September 9, 1965. 55 years ago, Sandy Koufax pitched a perfect game against the Chicago Cubs, besting 3 future Hall of Famers and a journeyman pitcher who almost matched him pitch for pitch. What can we takeaway from this remarkable achievement in regards to our own Sales success? You can also read my article about the game! https://lnkd.in/gDEPPmC