After we arrived from our recent trip to Italy for the European Baseball Championship, I received a great compliment. It is common for players or their families to say thanks for my efforts as a coach, but this one was different.
Unlike any other teams that travel to the European Championship tournament, Team Israel is required by the government to travel with a special security team. The guys that travel with us have always been very professional, which isn't surprising since they are the Israeli equivalent of the US Secret Service. Rarely have they ever understood or been interested in baseball, but they did their job well all the same. And I appreciate that fact.
This year, after we had gathered our luggage at Ben Gurion Airport, one of our agents approached me and said, "Craig, I want to thank you for what you do, and I don't mean the baseball. That was good, but I'm talking about preparing these guys for life. Thank you."
That "thank you" meant more to me than many others that I have received over the years. Sometimes the "thank yous" are obviously heart felt and are greatly appreciated. Others, however, are clearly just the socially expected behavior.
What made this one different were two things: First, the source: Our security agents see a different side of life than most of us would be comfortable knowing about. They, for the most part, have dedicated their lives to insulating the rest of us from the nasty underside of the world. Second, the observation: This particular agent recognized that my baseball training program is geared toward making my players better baseball players and better people. Better students. Better soldiers. Better citizens. Better husbands.
Perhaps, I have accomplished more than I thought.