This fall many of our collegiate and pro pitchers read David Cone’s biography “The Evolution of a Pitcher”
Cone was a highly successful pitcher for the Royals, Mets, Jays, and Yankees, pitching for 17 years and winning 5 World Series titles. He won 20 games twice, led the league in K’s from 1990-1992, and was a 5x All Star
His book has many good insights in the art of pitching, and our personal development groups had some good discussions about some of the knowledge he shares
One of the things in particular that stands out in the book is the clashes he had in his early years with his Royals pitching coach
Cone had a “my way or the highway” guy as his coach, who didn’t like that Cone would bounce his hands in his delivery, or occasionally drop down to throw his slider sidearm, or cock his wrist in his delivery.
Cone however would push back, saying pitchers aren’t clones, and those were some of the things he felt made him unique and gave him an edge over big league hitters
Their bullpen sessions would often turn into screaming matches, with the coach telling Cone over and over that if he didn’t do it his way, he’d get hurt.
The irony of course is that Cone didn’t back down, and ended up being one of the most durable pitchers of his generation
The lesson is two fold: there was no real logic or facts behind the coaches threat that he’d get hurt: it was just injecting fear to try to get his way
Often when people can’t validate their position with facts or logic, they resort to scare tactics, which in the athletic world, is usually a threat of “you’ll get hurt!”
Cone to his credit though didn’t back down, and enjoyed a long successful career, which is the second lesson:
Sometimes you need to stick to your guns. Even as a young big leaguer Cone knew it was his creativity and uniqueness in his delivery and his pitch execution that would power him to a successful career, and it did.
Athletes have to become knowledgeable enough in THEIR sport, and THEIR journey, to know when they’re right and need to stand their ground
As an athlete it’s not your job to manage other people’s feelings and emotions
It’s your job to move to the next level