A hard-hitting infielder had a successful collegiate career and made a rapid and accomplished ascension through the minor-league ranks. He was promoted to the roster of the Philadelphia Phillies and became a starter. Great things were predicted, and expected, by all observers. The young man had a short, powerful swing and appeared poised to hit many tape-measure home runs. The young slugger had achieved rousing success at all levels of his career thus far and was brimming with confidence.
He proceeded to have one of the worst years any hitter ever endured. Statistically, he was the worst full-time player in the game. His heretofore short swing developed a hitch and he struck out in approximately 30% of his at-bats. He led the major-leagues in overall futility, and especially often failed in clutch situations. He demonstrated decent power but his hits were few and far between. His fielding suffered, too, as his hitting continued to lag. The notorious, difficult-to-please Philadelphia fans jumped all over him, as did the media. The struggling young man had few supporters other than his manager and a few teammates and he was the constant recipient of booing, criticism and hostility. Most thought his major league career finished after only 1 horrendous season. Even he thought a return to the minor leagues was inevitable. His rookie season was nothing but abject failure.
A lesser man quits in such a situation. A lesser man limps onward, forever after weighed down with the remnants of his bruised and battered self-confidence and burdened with the specter of unfulfilled promise. A lesser man gives up on greatness and strives only to survive.
Mike Schmidt persevered. He spent the off-season rebuilding his psyche, his confidence and his swing. He worked at relaxing his body and his mind whilst at the plate and as a result developed a discerning eye that yielded many walks. He shortened his swing, improved his strength, and crushed long home runs in addition to plenty of singles and doubles. His success at the plate increased his confidence in the field and on the base-paths. In his second season, he became one of the best all-around players in the game. His run of excellence continued for the next 16 seasons and led to his enshrinement in the Hall of Fame. Schmidt is regarded as one of the greatest power hitters and run-producers of all time.
Schmidt is a man of greatness who transcended his early trials and tribulations. He transformed himself into an incredible hitter blessed with unshakable confidence and intractable belief in his abilities. He used early failure as a springboard to future greatness. Perseverance preserved his destiny and paved his journey to the pantheon of legends.