Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Never Give Up, Part III - The Boston Red Sox Win the 2004 World Series

In previous posts, I've confessed to being a big sports fan, and during my life I've seen some of the most amazing examples of perseverance you can imagine.
 -  Never Give Up, Part I - Leonard and Hearns "Showdown" in 1981
 -  Never Give Up, Part II - The NC State WolfPack's 1983 Men's Basketball National Championship

Now that Major League Baseball is about to get underway, I'm remembering the 2004 American League Championship Series between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees - one of the most unforgettable examples of perseverance I've ever seen.

The Yankees and the Red Sox are one of the great rivalries in sports. The Yankees have been loved and loathed for winning too often—especially the World Series. The Red Sox were known, until 2004, as the team that couldn’t get it done in the World Series.

And that’s what was happening in this series. The Yankees had the best record in the American League that year, and Boston made it into the playoffs as a Wild Card. The favored Yankees won the first three games and were ahead in the last inning of the fourth game. It appeared certain that the Yankees were going to prevail again. The Red Sox were one out from elimination and another disappointing season.

But they were able to score and tie the game. Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling was on the mound with a ruptured ankle tendon and his sock was soaked in blood. He held off the Yankees until the 12th inning, when a home run gave Boston the victory, which enabled them to play another game in the series.

Then the Red Sox proceeded to do what had never been done before in the history of baseball: they won the next three games in the seven-game series after being down 0-3. They stole the American League pennant from the Yankees. The following week they swept the St. Louis Cardinals in four games to win the World Series.

When you’re working through tough challenges, it’s hard to remain confident and optimistic. Setbacks can sap your strength and drain your resolve. You might feel like quitting. Anyone would. But once you quit, the fight is truly over, and you’ve lost.

We can learn two things from come-from-behind victory stories like this one.

First, expect the journey to be hard. Expect mistakes, problems and disappointments. In other words, don’t let adversity surprise you.

Second, as long as there’s any chance at all that you can succeed, simply refuse to quit—no matter what. People quit all the time. You don't have to be one of them. Just decide that after most people have dropped out, you’ll be one of those still in the fight.

[Photo of Curt Schilling courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Used with permission.]

Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., , Copyright 2010. Building Personal Strength .

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