Today is February 22 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often do you make the most of an opportunity.” While navigating the chaos it will be important to take advantage of opportunities when then appear. Your eyes will need to remain open though, as many people miss one opportunity after another since they fail to look in the right direction. President Theodore Roosevelt wrote “It is not often that a man can make opportunities for himself. But he can put himself in such shape that when or if the opportunities come, he is ready.” Therein lies the point of today’s reflection. Will you be ready for the opportunity when it knocks? Professional baseball player Brian Doyle certainly made the most of his opportunity.
This 1978 Major League Baseball (MLB) season was Doyle’s sixth as a pro but floundered in the minor leagues. To supplement his minor league income Doyle held a variety of jobs including selling suits and ties, working as a truck-body builder and officiating football games. He came from a baseball family. His father played amateur ball, his twin Blake played second base for Baltimore's top farm team and his older brother, Denny, was a major league journeyman who achieved prominence for the Red Sox in the 1975 Series.
During the 1978 major league baseball season 23-year-old rookie Doyle was called up and down to the New York Yankees 5 times. Yankee owner George Steinbrenner wanted to win on the AAA level, so he sent Doyle back down for those playoffs and when the post-season roster expanded to 40 called Doyle back to the Yankees. Three days before the season ended, Willie Randolph, the regular second baseman, pulled a hamstring, so at the end of the season Doyle was playing second.
As Doyle recalled “We were in the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Special permission had to be granted for me to be on the roster because I was not on the regular season roster due to playing in the AAA playoffs. To be granted a roster spot, the Dodgers and MLB Commissioner, Bowie Kuhn, had to approve it. The first game of the World Series was in LA. I was in a cab with Catfish Hunter and Yogi Berra going to the stadium. Yogi looked at me and said, “You’re playing kid.” I didn’t know until just a few hours before the first game of the World Series that I was eligible to play!” And play he did. The 1978 World Series would be the best six games of his professional baseball life. Doyle went 7 for 16, drove in two runs, and ended the World Series with a .438 batting average, higher than everyone else, even the Most Valuable Player Bucky Dent. Doyle’s career ended in 1981 and after less than four years in the majors he had a lifetime batting average of .161. He had one brief shining moment in an otherwise mediocre professional baseball career. But no one can take those six games, or his World Series ring, away from him. Doyle made the most of an opportunity.
As the Yankees prepared for the 1979 season, Doyle had no illusions as to his job on the team and said “I knew what I’d be doing this year, what my role on this team is. If you are going to be a utility man, there is no better place to be one than on the best team in the world. Doyle was noted for his relentlessly positive outlook. After bouncing around to a few different teams, and even trying his hand in coaching Doyle retired from organized baseball in 1984 and returned to his adopted home of Winter Haven, Florida, to his family of four where he launched a second career in a higher calling. In a 1979 interview he remarked, “there are more important things in life than baseball. One thing is my Christian faith, which is very important to me.” By the 1990s he had put that faith to work. With just a few college semesters under his belt at Western Kentucky University, and no seminary training, Doyle was ordained as a Southern Baptist minister. He received his first placement in 2005 at the Fort Lauderdale First Baptist Church. Serving there until 2011, Doyle and his wife moved to Georgia where he joined the Global Baseball Youth Federation. First placed by Global Baseball in Israel, Doyle went on to develop the federation’s curriculum which took him to Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Ecuador.
Brian is the Director of Curriculum and Connie is the Office Administrator of Global Sports Ministry a 501c3 corporation. Brian and Connie have shared over 40 years in professional baseball and over 15 years in ministry. In April 2019 Doyle published his autobiography entitled The Call: The Desire to Finish Strong. The book details his life story but the title The Call, refers not to getting the call to play major league baseball, but instead refers to The Call of service and ministry to others he received from Jesus. Time and again, Doyle made the most of his opportunities. He had a brief stint in the major leagues but left an indelible mark on Yankee fans everywhere. Once his playing days ended, he made the most of another opportunity and coupled ministry work with baseball. As BC Forbes noted “The man who is intent on making the most of his opportunities is too busy to bother about luck.”
How often do you make the most of your opportunities? Are you so busy complaining that you are unable to see the opportunities before you? Are you so consumed by jealousy that it clouds your ability to even allow yourself the ability to consider an opportunity before you?