We stumbled across a very interesting film on Netflix the other night entitled The Battered Bastards of Baseball. It’s the story of 1960’s TV cowboy Bing Russell and his ownership of a rag-tag minor league baseball team. Russell (father of actor Kurt Russell) played the part of a deputy sheriff (and later the sheriff) named Clem on the TV series Bonanza. Russell claims that he appeared in 200 episodes of Bonanza and never solved a crime. After the series concluded, Russell’s career took a turn and he purchased an independent minor league team based in Portland, Oregon.
The team, which was comprised of a group of “has-beens” and “never-wills” was thrown together following an open tryout. The players knew their future in baseball extended no further than the stadium’s parking lot and they were paid accordingly. Still, a funny thing happened. With a true and pure joy for the game of baseball and the desire to do nothing more than savor the moment, the team went on to be quite successful. No spoiler here, however. Find the movie and watch it…it’s good!
Watching the players throughout the movie, who truly enjoyed their lives and “careers”, it got me to thinking about things like job satisfaction and passion for career. I began to think about those who serve in jobs each day who may or not be fulfilled. I thought back to my 25 years in Corporate America and searched my own personal archives for those moments of pure joy and satisfaction. I had trouble finding more than a few instances of such pleasure. I thought back to the time where a prospective sales representative thought I must be full of funny and interesting stories to share after serving with the company for so long. I drew a blank when he said that.
After further consideration, yes, there were a few occasions that might be considered somewhat amusing, but you probably had to work there with me to think they were even remotely funny. Like the time the blow-hard boss kept mispronouncing the name of the newly-introduced product at the company sales meeting. Or maybe the time the lady boss, whose face’s texture resembled that of Bing Russell’s saddle in Bonanza, walked into a meeting with a fake orange tan which would make Trump look like an albino. Again…you probably had to be there to appreciate the humor.
Fast forward to my post-corporate career as producer and co-host of The Tomfoolery Fun Club, a comedy-based variety series. Without getting into too many details how I ended up here, I did. Along with my business partner and most significant “other”, Ms. Michele, we’ve staged nearly 100 events consisting of various forms of comedy accompanied by live music. After we watched the movie I mentioned earlier, I asked Michele if, after the nearly 100 shows we’ve produced together, could she think of something that really stood out as particularly funny and interesting. She gave me somewhat of a quizzical look and said, “are you kidding?” The question didn’t really require an answer because we both knew that if we had only 100 seconds, we both could probably list 100 funny and interesting things that took place over that time. We put our hearts and souls into our events and, when people do that, amazing things happen. I recall standing on the stage of our last event and, as the capacity crowd cheered for our performers and our production, I asked myself; is there anywhere else on earth you’d rather be right now? The answer was a resounding “no”.
As COVID continues to batter away like a never-ending storm, so many people are worried about their livelihoods. Their jobs may or may not be there when we all (hopefully) get our vaccine and our world returns to normal. I’m working very hard not to worry about money, but to focus on the controllable. Personally, when I come out of this pandemic, I hope to be refreshed and full of newly creative ideas to set free. Stay tuned!