Players in the minor leagues spend a lot of time trying to get to the big leagues by honing their mechanics, working on fundamentals such as their stance and their batting grip and those all minute details that they hope one day will be sharp enough to make them fit to be called up to The Show.
But the Phillies go one step further in training their farm players by having them take a mandatory field trip to the Hall of Fame. From Paul Hagen:
"As baseball men, we always talk about our players not knowing enough about the history of the game, not being exposed to it as much as maybe we were in the past generation or two," said Chuck LaMar, assistant general manager, scouting and player development.
It’s a solid idea. First of all, these are baseball players we’re dealing with here. When considering their knowledge of history, you’re far better off assuming that they know very little. Secondly, the trip has obvious inspirational benefits. You go to the Hall of Fame. You meet Hall of Famers. You decide that perhaps one day YOU would like to be a Hall of Famer, and so you go back to Lehigh Valley to work that much harder on your throwing motion. I know that’s how I felt when I went to the Hall, though I never did qualify for enshrinement.
But there’s more to it than that. Taking younger players through the Hall gives them a deeper appreciation of their craft, and of the entire baseball world in general. You have deeper feelings for a subject the more you know about it -- whether it be baseball or a neighbor or anything else. You become more attached to it, even if you don’t realize it.
I worked in advertising for a while, and one of things I enjoyed the most while working in it were the times when my bosses and I paused for a second from our usual work routines and talked more about the big picture. Old ads we liked. Cool new ads we wished we had done. Stuff like that.
You need those moments. You need a second to take your head out of the dunk tank and look around. It makes the day-to-day work you do far more rewarding, knowing that it’s part of some larger, more important THING.
Come to think of it, maybe those minor leaguers could use a trip to the Liberty Bell too.