“At the end of the day, we all hope that what we’re doing will be of some value.”
Producer/actor Brad Pitt
On this repost Saturday I’m reaching back to a post I just wrote two years ago. I know many people in the sporting world are in a football state of mind this week since the 2013 college football season began this week.
But I’m in a baseball state of mind because I went to a memorial service yesterday for Coach Mike Ferrell. He was my JV baseball coach my freshman year of high school. Some people only come into your life for a season but still leave an impact. Coach Ferrell was one of those people in my life.
I can’t remember what our record was that year I played on his team. I can’t even remember a single game. But I remember Coach Ferrell. My defining memory of him was when I was going through a batting slump and he allowed me hit extra in batting practice. Next game I got two hits. Little things like a coaches confidence in you to do better and a lesson about perseverance go a long way in life. (Passion, patience, practice and persistence are a great combination any endeavour.)
He was a good man. A fair man. And he loved the game of baseball–and it showed in his affections for his players and wanting them to play the game well. I learned at the memorial service that he “mowed his lawn every four days.” That made sense. He was a man of precision, of detail.
Looking back I realize that Coach Ferrell would have only been 25-26 years old when he was coaching that year. Young, but every bit the leader. And while mowing your lawn every four days won’t change the world, it does reveal a glimpse into the character of a man who would invest 37 years in the public school system teaching and coaching young men and women.
Character building stuff that impacts lives in positive ways. And there’s great value in that.
A special thanks to the teachers and coaches out there investing in the lives of others. And may peace be with Coach Ferrell’s wife and family.
Here’s the post that first ran September 30, 2011—then titled Filmmaking Quote #24 (Brad Pitt):
“It’s hard not to be romantic about baseball.”
Billy Beane (Brad Pitt)
Today I saw Moneyball starring Brad Pitt and loved everything about it.* It completed a week where by happenstance I followed the Brad Pitt trail.
Last Saturday while on location shooting a video project I drove by Shawnee, Oklahoma where Brad was born. A few days later I drove through Springfield, Missouri where he was raised and went to high school. The next day I was on the campus of the University of Missouri in Columbia where he went to college.
The first time I recall seeing him act was in Thelma & Louise in 1991 and it was one of those scene stealing performances where I wondered, “Who the heck is this guy?” Within four years, and after his performances in A River Run Through It, Legends of the Fall, and Se7en—everyone knew who Brad Pitt was. And while he’s a tremendous actor, personally I haven’t appreciated many of the movies he’s been in the past 15 years.
Moneyball goes down in my book as the perfect Brad Pitt movie. (I haven’t seen Tree of Life yet, but I’m guessing it’s going to be a solid film, but a solid Terrance Malick film.) That’s not to take anything away from Moneyball’s director (Bennett Miller) or screenwriters (Steven Zillian and Aaron Sorkin), it’s just that their talents all came together to tell a great story that is driven by an actor in his prime. And my guess is that they’ll all be rewarded when the Oscar nominations are announced. (Update: Moneyball received six Oscar-nominations and won the AFI Award for Movie of the Year.)
“(Moneyball) is about how we value things. How we value each other; how we value ourselves; and how we decide who’s a winner based on those values. The film questions the very idea of how to define success. It places great value on this quiet, personal victory, the victory that’s not splashed across the headlines or necessarily results in trophies, but that, for Beane, became a kind of personal Everest. At the end of the day, we all hope that what we’re doing will be of some value, that it will mean something and I think that is this character’s quest.”
Moneyball: Interview with Brad Pitt
* I will admit that baseball was my first love which is part of what is so special to me about this movie. From rooting for Cincinnati’s Big Red Machine and to going to spring training games at Tinker Field in Orlando as a kid, to playing the game through high school, and as an adult going to games at Wrigley Field, Fenway Park, and Yankee Stadium, the idea of baseball has been a constant companion even though I don’t follow the game much any more. But even if baseball is foreign to you, I think Moneyball works on so many levels you can enjoy the movie even if you’re not a fan of the game.