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Just a thought: The importance of home plate

I am a big fan of baseball. My father was a big baseball fan. His father was a big baseball fan. I guess you could say I inherited it!

I grew up following baseball. I had a baseball dice game that I played for hours and hours, carefully keeping records for each individual player and standings on how each team performed. I attribute learning math skills through this process to my scoring 99.9 percent in the country on my ACT college test.

I played Little League baseball and almost set a new home run record my last year. I played baseball in middle school and then in high school. I was second team all league as a catcher my senior year of high school.

In college I unsuccessfully tried to walk onto the Baylor baseball team before playing Semi-pro baseball for a summer for the Waco Missions. I woke up one morning in Monterrey, Mexico with two pictures of me on the front page of the newspaper’s sports section.

For over 50 years I have followed the Oakland Athletics through World Championships and losing seasons. Add this to the fact that as an adult I collected about six million baseball cards and have visited 26 different major league ballparks with my family.

I don’t know what the credentials are for being a big fan of baseball, but somehow I think through my life I qualify.

This being said, the most important element of baseball is home plate. Everything that happens on the field revolves around home plate. The pitcher tries to throw pitches over it. The batter lines up and swings right next to it. The umpire focuses on each pitch crouched from behind home plate and determines if each pitch is within the strike zone.

All other bases follow home plate with numbers: first base, second base, and third base.

The entire goal of the game of baseball is to cross home plate more times than the other team. Whoever does this better wins.

Understand home plate is a constant that never changes. It has always been 17 inches wide. It is the same for Little League as it is for Major League Baseball. Go to any baseball field at any level of play and home plate will be 17 inches wide.

If a pitcher struggles getting the ball over home plate, the umpire doesn’t replace it with a new plate that is 20 inches wide. The pitcher is replaced. If a batter can’t hit pitches that are thrown on the outer side of the plate, the umpire doesn’t replace it with one that is 10 inches wide.

Home plate is constant in baseball, what happens around it changes at every bat and every game.

Families have been around since the beginning of time. A man and a woman have a child. Together they provide for the child and raise it to become a man or a woman who in turn have children and the cycle continues. Some families do a better job of parenting than others.

Home has been a constant since mankind began. The individuals involved change but home remains constant. Or does it?

For most of mankind, a family needed to have children to work the farm or continue the father’s trade. Before the industrial revolution, most people lived in the country. Parenting was tied to teaching each child a trade or how to take care of household needs. Obviously there were exceptions, but a carpenter father would spend countless hours teaching his son how to build with wood while a mother would spend countless hours teaching a daughter how to sew or cook.

The concept of a child going away to attend school each day didn’t really exist until a couple of centuries ago. Going away to college is even more recent. So there became a time when generations of children started being educated outside the home.

Then, recently, computers were invented and then the internet was created. This is the world we wake up in today. Children have the ability to learn about any topic from strangers, some whom the parents agree with and some whom they don’t.

Is home a constant today? I believe it is if you make it so. It is the most important element of any family’s life. Everything runs through the home. How well home is done determines what the world will become tomorrow.

How well do you do home? You are raising someone’s husband or wife. You are raising someone’s father or mother. You are raising someone’s boss, someone’s best friend, someone’s nurse, someone’s preacher. Who knows the impact the child you are parenting today will have on the world?

The ripple effect of the newborn child born into your home is yet to be determined. What you are doing will impact lives of people you will never meet in places you will never visit. Your job parenting in your home will live on well after you are gone.

How much time you spend with your family at your dining room table will have a far reaching effect. And parenting is likely the most difficult thing you will ever do.

My challenge to you today is to parent well. If this column stresses you, it should. Make parenting a priority. Make it intentional. Unlike most of the history of mankind, time together as a family does not happen naturally, but must be created and treated sacredly.

A family in the same room with everyone on their electronic devices may as well be 100 miles apart.

The future of mankind goes through your home. Home needs to remain a constant. It needs to develop and equip our youth to be able to positively impact the world they will encounter. 

Whether it is baseball or family, what we focus on expands. Home is worth focusing on. Our world wins when we regularly cross home plate with good parenting.

Just a thought...

Rick Kraft is a motivational speaker, a syndicated columnist, a published author, and an attorney. To submit comments, contributions, or ideas, e-mail to or write to P.O. Box 850, Roswell, New Mexico, 88202 - 0850.

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