Shortly after I started out as a professional
baseball player, I got one of the biggest shocks of my life. I was playing
for Johnstown, Pennsylvania in the Tri-State League. I was young and
ambitious- wanted to get to the top - and what happened? I was fired!
My whole life might have been different if I hadn't gone to the manager
and asked him why he fired me. In fact, I wouldn't have the rare privilege
of writing this book if I hadn't asked him that question.
The manager said he fired me because
I was lazy. Well, that was the last thing I expected him to say.
"You drag yourself around the field
like a veteran who has been playing ball for twenty years," he
told me. "Why do you act that way if you're not lazy?"
"Well, Bert," I said, "I'm
so nervous, so scared, that I want to hide my fear from the crowd, and
especially from the other players on the team. Besides, I hope that
by taking it easy, I'll get rid of my nervousness."
"Frank," he said, "it
will never work. That's the thing that is holding you down. Whatever
you do after you leave here, for heaven's sake wake yourself up, and
put some life and enthusiasm into your work!"
I had been making $175 a month at Johnstown.
After being fired there, I went down to Chester, Pennsylvania in the
Atlantic League, where they paid me only $25 a month. Well, I couldn't
feel very enthusiastic on that kind of money, but I began to act enthusiastic.
After I was there three days an old ball player, Danny Meehan, came
to me and said: "Frank, what in the world are you doing down here
in a rank bush-league like this?"
"Well, Danny," I replied,
"if I knew how to get a better job, I'd go anywhere."
A week later, Danny induced New Haven,
Connecticut to give me a trial. My first day in New Haven will always
stand out in my memory as a great event in my life. No one knew me in
that league, so I made a resolution that no one would ever accuse me
of being lazy. I made up my mind to to establish the reputation of being
the most enthusiastic ball player they'd ever seen in the New England
League. I thought if I could establish such a reputation, then I'd have
to live up to it.
From the minute I appeared on the field,
I acted like a man electrified. I acted as though I were alive with
a million batteries. I threw the ball around the diamond so fast and
so hard that it almost knocked our infielders' hands apart. Once, apparently
trapped, I slid into third base with so much energy and force that the
third basemen fumbled the ball and I was able to score an important
run. Yes, it was all a show, an act I was putting on. The thermometer
that day was nearly 100 degrees. I wouldn't have been surprised if I
had dropped over with a sunstroke the way I ran around the field.
Did it work"? It worked like magic.
Three things happened:
1. My enthusiasm almost entirely overcame
my fear. In fact my nervousness began to work for me, and I played far
better than I ever thought I was capable of playing. (If you are nervous
be thankful. Don't hold it back. Turn it on. Let your nerves work for
2. My enthusiasm affected the other players on the team, and they too
3. Instead of dropping in the heat, I felt better during the game and
after it was over than I had ever felt before.
My biggest thrill came the following
morning when I read in the New Haven newspaper: "This new player,
Bettger, has a barrel of enthusiasm. He inspired our boys. They not
only won the game, but looked better than at any time this season."
The newspapers began calling me "Pep"
Bettger - the life of the team. I mailed the newspaper clippings to
Bert Conn, manager of Johnstown. Can you imagine the expression on his
face as he read about "Pep" Bettger, the dub he'd tied a can
to three weeks before - for being lazy?
Within ten day, enthusiasm took me from
$25 a month to $185 a month - it increased my income by 700 per cent.
Let me repeat - nothing but determination to act enthusiastic increased
my income 700 per cent in ten days! I got this stupendous increase in
salary not because I could throw a ball better - or catch or hit better,
not because I had any more ability as a ball player. I didn't know any
more about baseball than I did before.
Two years later - two years from the
time I had been hoping to get $25 a month in that little Chester outfit,
I was playing third base for the St. Louis Cardinals and had multiplied
my income by thirty times. What did it? Enthusiasm alone did it; nothing