Jim Thorpe is considered one of, if not the, greatest athlete of all time. His prowess and accomplishments in a variety of sports, in particular football and track and field, made him a living legend and still endear him to sports fans of all ages almost 60 years after his death. Thorpe played major league baseball for parts of 6 seasons, and pro baseball for almost 15 years. As proof of how difficult it is to hit, Thorpe had a pedestrian batting average of .252 for his big league career. “The World’s Greatest Athlete,” as proclaimed by fans, peers, teammates, journalists and even a King, was just an average batter according to the statistics.
However, becoming a hitter entails much more than just possessing great athletic talent. Becoming a great hitter requires hours, days, and years of sustained, consistent practice and acclimation. Thorpe played baseball as a sideline to his more acclaimed football and track and field careers; he never played an entire sustained major league season due to his other sporting activities.
When he did play, his batting practice habits were laconic, inconsistent, haphazard and lackadaisical at best, in particular during his early years. The deeper into his career Thorpe got, the more he practiced and the more accomplished he became. He also began playing full, sustained seasons during his latter days. He played in competitive minor leagues and batted as high as .360, with other seasons at .358, .335, and .303. Repetition begat excellence.
If the greatest athlete had to practice the skills of the game in order to maximize his skill, shouldn’t you?