Lessons from the Dugout: Always Wait For the Right Pitch

In the inaugural article in this series, I wrote about the importance of listening to management even when their ideas don’t line up with yours. Today, I’ll be sharing my perspective on the importance of timing – and why patience is a virtue on and off the field.

Lesson 2: Always Wait for the Right Pitch

It’s a piece of advice that every baseball player has heard hundreds of times since Little League: the key to hitting well is waiting for the right pitch to come along. If you don’t like what the opposing pitcher has been tossing your way, just be patient and eventually he’ll show you something that you can really get a piece of.  I’ve always been known as a power hitter, and through the years many people have tried to analyze my technique. Honestly, they spent far more time trying to dissect what I did at home plate than I ever did.  I always hit more by feel – I couldn’t necessarily tell you why one at-bat resulted in a home run except that the ball just looked right, and my swing just felt right. Of course, the idea of being patient and waiting for the perfect moment to shine has tremendous application in the world of business. Some of the best decisions of my career – both during the major league and after – were the ones that I didn’t actually make.

When I wrapped up my final season with Oakland in 2007 without a contract for the following year, I made the decision to retire and start a new (and uncharted) chapter in my life. Soon thereafter, I was presented with several offers to take a seat in the broadcast booth. But becoming a sports commentator wasn’t a passion of mine, and it just didn’t feel like the right path to take. I waited until I was in the right frame of mind to embrace a new challenge, and for the right path to present itself.  Soon enough, it did. My father had been involved in the automobile industry since the 1960s, and a love of cars ran in my blood. It made perfect sense to assume an active ownership role with our family’s auto dealership group.

While going from pro baseball to selling cars may have looked like an odd choice, it felt like the pitch I had been waiting for. I took the swing and never looked back. My successes with Piazza Auto Group have opened the doors for countless other business opportunities, from coaching with the Italian national baseball team to speaking engagements, acting on Broadway and owning a professional soccer team.

And for every one, I waited to make my move on my own terms and trusted my instincts. Sometimes that meant I took a strike as a good opportunity passed over the plate. But patience and persistence gave me more than a few home runs – and I’m just getting started.

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Lessons From The Dugout

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