My Father’s Day, First Pitches, and a Bit About Tim Russert

I don’t have a bucket list. I do have a mental list of things I’d like to say I’ve done, and yesterday I got to officially cross one off. I threw out the first pitch at a baseball game. Now, it wasn’t Fenway or even PGE Park as I have always imagined, but I enjoyed the opportunity tremendously.

It’s one of those things that is both easy and hard to check off of a list. DigiTel, the company I work for is a sponsor of the Mat-Su Miners based in Palmer, AK. Yesterday we were the primary sponsor for the game. It involved lots of giveaways, and the opportunity to throw out the first pitch. With my love of baseball and my years of playing the sport, I jumped at the chance.

The combination of baseball and business makes it fitting that this event happened on Father’s Day. When I was a kid, my dad would come home from a full day of work to play catch, catch my often wild pitches, coach third base at games (who loved to send base runners to steal home), and was always the most supportive dad on all the teams I played on.

My dad has been a great example to me in business too. He’s always said that having a firm understanding of how the little things make up the big picture helps making big decisions easier.

Years and years ago, I took a summer job working as a contractor for his company while they went through an inventory management system installation. My work consisted of lots of data entry and working out the kinks on the database as it was implemented to the warehouse. Spending as much time with the warehouse guys gave me a good appreciation for how the blue collar working guys saw my dad. Union tensions were pretty high that summer as a few other unions went on strike, but getting the perspective of the union warehouse guys of my dad and his role in operations management let me know that he wasn’t just another ‘suit’ to them. Whether it was because he understood the parts of the whole, or because he found common ground relationally with the guys, they respected him and his role whether the union appreciated that or not.

He’s been an example of how to lead, how to organize and how to remain loyal despite the company not always being loyal to you.

I’m a weekly watcher of both Meet the Press and Tim Russert’s MSNBC show, so the sad news of his death and the tributes that followed have been showing up in my Tivo recordings a lot the last few days. One thing Tom Brokaw and James Carville talked about on the special Meet The Press yesterday was how Tim Russert would become a fan of what his friends were fans of, he’d call Carville about LSU touchdowns, Mike Barnicle even mentioned how excited he was Thursday night about the Celtics coming back to beat the Lakers (I can’t share that enthusiasm) with a midnight phone call. My dad shares this enthusiasm not just about sports teams, but will go above and beyond to learn about what his friends and family are in to. Whether it means buying an album on iTunes, sending articles about a particular industry to a friend, or calling the moment the last out of the Red Sox winning the World Series, he’s dedicated to finding or creating common ground.

Whether baseball, business, or life, my dad has been a great influence on who I am and who I want to be. Thanks, Dad for the example, the advice (the more true; the harder to take), and for making time for a game of catch (even as adults). Know that I’ve found those times priceless.

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2 Replies to “My Father’s Day, First Pitches, and a Bit About Tim Russert”

  1. Hi Matt,
    My name is Ben. I have worked with and, at times, for your dad for almost 10 years now. He forwarded this to me. He has taught me a lot and has been an integral part of my success. You did a great job of describing the guy I know. Thanks!

  2. Hi Matt,

    I also worked with and for your Dad for 12 years and can tell you that I have never learned more from ANYONE I’ve known about life and work and the balance between them than I learned from him. I have since left the company and moved on, but there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t use something he taught me – or a day that I don’t miss being able to walk into his office and talk. We still keep in touch (hence my viewing of your blog), but it’s not the same.

    Sounds to me like you are a chip off of the block – and this is high praise in my book. :0)

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