Baseball, Singing, Penmanship, and Perseverance

For this family home evening, I put five objects in a brown paper bag – a baseball and a bat, a hymn book, and a pen and paper (you could also do a coloring book).  I had Caleb pick an object out of the bag, I told a story from President Heber J. Grant’s life that related to that object, and then we did a short activity with that object (we did the activity first with some of the objects because the kids were too excited about them to listen to the story!)

BASEBALL

“Being an only child, my mother reared me very carefully. Indeed, I grew more or less on the principle of a hothouse plant, the growth of which is ‘long and lanky’ but not substantial. I learned to sweep, and to wash and wipe dishes, but did little stone throwing and little indulging in those sports which are interesting and attractive to boys, and which develop their physical frames. Therefore, when I joined a baseball club, the boys of my own age and a little older played in the first nine; those younger than I played in the second, and those still younger in the third, and I played with them.

“One of the reasons for this was that I could not throw the ball from one base to the other. Another reason was that I lacked physical strength to run or bat well. When I picked up a ball, the boys would generally shout:

“‘Throw it here, sissy!’

“So much fun was engendered on my account by my youthful companions that I solemnly vowed that I would play baseball in the nine that would win the championship of the Territory of Utah.

“My mother was keeping boarders at the time for a living, and I shined their boots until I saved a dollar which I invested in a baseball. I spent hours and hours throwing the ball at Bishop Edwin D. Woolley’s barn, which caused him to refer to me as the laziest boy in the Thirteenth Ward. Often my arm would ache so that I could scarcely go to sleep at night. But I kept on practicing and finally succeeded in getting into the second nine of our club. Subsequently I joined a better club, and eventually played in the nine that won the championship of the territory and beat the nine that had won the championship for California, Colorado, and Wyoming. Having thus made good my promise to myself, I retired from the baseball arena” (Gospel Standards, comp. G. Homer Durham [1969], 342–43).

When we are PERSISTENT we can accomplish things we never even thought were possible. It would have been easy for President Grant to say, “I’m not good at playing baseball” and just give up and try something else like swimming or something, but he didn’t. He made a goal and said, “I’m going to be one of the best baseball players in all of Utah!” And he did just that. I’m sure no one thought he could do it, but he didn’t pay any attention to their negativity. He became better than naturally gifted athletes because of sheer determination. Often, it is not talent that determines whether a person becomes GREAT at something, but persistence and consistency.

Great works are performed not by strength, but by perseverance.

-Smauel Johnson

With ordinary talent and extraordinary perseverance, all things are attainable.

-Thomas Fowell Buxton

Some men succeed because they are destined to, but most because they are determined to.

People do not lack strength. They lack will.

Quitters never win. Winners never quit.

Follow through: stopping at third base adds no more to the score than striking out. –

-Alexander Animator

Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not.

-Thomas Huxley

We had Jared model how to hit the baseball and what to do when you miss.  Jared missed on purpose and said, “Hmm, what should I do?  Should I yell?  Should I throw the bat?  Should I get sad?  Goodness no!  I just need to try again.  I need to practice.  Then I will get better and better.”  We had Caleb and Daniel practice hitting the baseball.  If they missed, we stayed positive and happy and simply told them, “Try again!”   There will be failures, but we can’t let them ruin our mood and make us become a worse person. We should just smile and say, “Try again.”

HE WAS DETERMINED TO LEARN TO SING

“My mother tried to teach me when I was a small child to sing but failed because of my inability to carry a tune.

“Upon joining a singing class taught by Professor Charles J. Thomas, he tried and tried in vain to teach me when ten years of age to run the scale or carry a simple tune and finally gave up in despair. He said that I could never, in this world, learn to sing. Perhaps he thought I might learn the divine art in another world. Ever since this attempt, I have frequently tried to sing when riding alone many miles from anyone who might hear me, but on such occasions could never succeed in carrying the tune of one of our familiar hymns for a single verse, and quite frequently not for a single line.

“When I was about twenty-five years of age, Professor Sims informed me that I could sing, but added, ‘I would like to be at least forty miles away while you are doing it.’ …

“Upon my recent trip to Arizona, I asked Elders Rudger Clawson and J. Golden Kimball if they had any objections to my singing one hundred hymns that day. They took it as a joke and assured me that they would be delighted. We were on the way from Holbrook to St. Johns, a distance of about sixty miles. After I had sung about forty tunes, they assured me that if I sang the remaining sixty they would be sure to have nervous prostration. I paid no attention whatever to their appeal, but held them to their bargain and sang the full one hundred. One hundred and fifteen songs in one day, and four hundred in four days, is the largest amount of practicing I ever did.

“Today [1900] my musical deafness is disappearing, and by sitting down to a piano and playing the lead notes, I can learn a song in less than one-tenth the time required when I first commenced to practice” (Gospel Standards, 351–52, 354).

For our activity, we simply sang some of the boys’ favorite songs.

WRITING

“One day Heber was playing marbles with some other boys when the bookkeeper from the Wells Fargo Company Bank was walking down the other side of the street. One of the boys remarked, ‘That man gets $150.00 a month.’ Heber figured to himself that not counting Sundays, that man made $6.00 a day and that at five cents a pair, he would have to black 120 pairs of boots to make $6.00. He there and then resolved that some day he would be a bookkeeper in the Wells Fargo and Company’s bank. In those days all the records and accounts of the bank were written with a pen, and one of the requisites of a good bookkeeper was the ability to write well. To learn to write well was his first approach to securing this job and the fulfilment of his resolve; so he set to work to become a penman.

“At the beginning his penmanship was so poor that when two of his chums were looking at it one said to the other, ‘That writing looks like hen tracks.’ ‘No,’ said the other, ‘it looks as if lightning had struck an ink bottle.’ This touched Heber’s pride and, bringing his fist down on his desk, he said, ‘I’ll some day be able to give you fellows lessons in penmanship.’ …

“He secured a position as bookkeeper and policy clerk in an insurance office at fifteen. About this he said: ‘I wrote a very nice hand, and that was all that was needed to satisfactorily fill the position which I then had. Yet I was not fully satisfied but continued to dream and scribble when not otherwise occupied. … I learned to write well, so well, that I often made more before and after office hours by writing cards, invitations, and making maps than the amount of my regular salary. At nineteen I was keeping books and acting as policy clerk for Henry Wadsworth, the agent of Wells Fargo and Company. My time was not fully employed, and I was not working for the company but for the agent personally. I did the same as I had done in Mr. White’s bank, volunteered to file a lot of bank letters, etc., and kept a set of books for the Sandy Smelting Company, which Mr. Wadsworth was doing personally. My actions so pleased Mr. Wadsworth that he employed me to do the collecting for Wells Fargo and Company and paid me $20.00 a month for this work in addition to my regular compensation of $75.00 from the insurance business. Thus I was in the employ of Wells Fargo and Company and one of my day-dreams had become a reality’” (Bryant S. Hinckley, Heber J. Grant: Highlights in the Life of a Great Leader [1951], 39–42).

“When Heber, still in his teens, was working as a policy clerk in the office of H. R. Mann and Co., he was offered three times his salary to go to San Francisco as a penman. He later became teacher of penmanship and bookkeeping at the University of Deseret (University of Utah). …

“At one of the territorial fairs in which he had not competed, he noticed the exhibits of four professional penmen. He remarked to the man in charge of the art department that he could write better than that before he was seventeen years of age. The man in charge laughed and said that nobody but a cheeky insurance agent would make such a remark. He handed the gentleman three dollars which was the fee necessary to compete for a diploma and sent for the specimen which he had written before he was seventeen and hung it up with the remark, ‘If you judges know good penmanship, when you see it, I will get the diploma.’ He walked away with a diploma for the best penmanship in the territory. He encouraged the art of good penmanship among the youth of Zion and offered many prizes for the best specimens” (Hinckley, Heber J. Grant, 40–41).

For our activity, we had the boys draw on some paper.

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