Back to previous page

Editor’s note: To succeed in business, as in baseball, it helps to have a good bench

By ,

When I was kid, my middle school broadcast the Baltimore Orioles 1970 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds over the classroom loudspeaker because in those days, they actually played games at times when kids were still awake.

Third baseman Brooks Robinson’s fielding heroics in that series turned me into a baseball fan for life. I had never seen anyone play the hot corner like that.

I was at an age when I could name every player on the two teams, including a second baseman named Davey Johnson.

Johnson is now the manager for the Washington Nationals, and I heard him talk about his latest team the other day at a Greater Washington Board of Trade luncheon.

Johnson was hoarse from allergies (or maybe it was yelling at players), so he couldn’t say a lot. But he offered a bit of insight into managing the game that I am glad I didn’t miss.

The skipper was asked about the quality of his bench. It was a setup no doubt, because the night before a rookie from a local high school had stepped in to win a game in dramatic fashion.

Johnson responded by saying the group might be among the best he’s coached. And that’s important, he continued, because games are often decided when the starting pitcher has been replaced and managers must start playing chess with their talent, looking for matchup advantages.

It’s the time of the game when a manager goes head-to-head with the other manager, Johnson said, and he said he liked his odds.

Being an American League fan all these years, I never quite appreciated the importance of the full roster.

Businesspeople might heed the lesson. Success isn’t about a few stars but about the strength of an organization, top to bottom. All play their role.

That’s why training programs, mentoring, management and career ladders are so important.

I sat there thinking: You can watch baseball all your life, and still learn something new each time you tune in.

© The Washington Post Company