Part III George Springer
- Uncommonly driven
Yes, that’s him, barely old enough to walk, but already playing baseball. Like he was born to play. In fact, if you map out his DNA, it will probably look like the stitches on a baseball.
It started with his grandfather, George Chelston Springer (Sr). At 17 he took the boat from Panama to pursue his dream of beisbol in America. Four years pitching at Teacher’s College of Connecticut, interrupted by arm trouble, but leading to a degree in History, a career in teaching, being a local President of the American Federation of Teachers, and being a civil rights activist who mingled with the likes of Ted Kennedy. And of course, a family, including a son, George Springer Jr, who played in the Little League World Series and later became a successful lawyer. George Jr. married a Puerto Rican gymnast and softball coach, Laura, and had three kids, George III, and daughters Laura and Nicole, both softball players.
Baseball, baseball, baseball, baseball. Three generations of baseball, and in George III, the Springer dynasty has at last become baseball royalty.
Like our other core four, young George could not play enough baseball. His father tells a story of how at seven this young baseball prodigy was already plotting his approach against a “difficult” opposing pitcher.
“Baseball? Yeah, almost from out of the womb.” George Springer Jr.
George Springer may have been born for baseball, but in some sense, he might have died without it.
As we all know, George has a stuttering tendency. After doing this research, I realized for the first time how a young person’s spirit can be crushed by the cruel reactions to this by one’s teen age peers. Here’s how George explains it .
George recalls being ridiculed, even bullied, by kids in middle school and junior high
It is unimaginable to me how this super-bright, super-enthusiastic, super-bubbly kid, could be forced to keep all that exuberance and joy and love of life locked inside, with only sadness and frustration in its place. Baseball was his release. It was the place where all that energy could explode. According to Sports Illustrated, “on a baseball field, George found such joy and comfort that his stutter would become less pronounced. His father built him a backyard batting cage. On windy days George Jr would grab a tennis racket and tennis balls and take his son to the park to shag fly balls.” Only on a baseball field George could shine.. Here’s how he put it.
In 2017, George Springer started in left field for the American league All Stars. During the game he was the first baseball player in History to conduct a TV interview on the field during live play.
George Springer can never tire of baseball or give it less than everything he has. It isn’t just a way for him to experience fleeting joy. It is the way he can be who he truly is. It IS his joy. Baseball healed him.
- Playing for the love of others/inspiring others by overcoming hardship
George Springer owes everything to the love of his beautiful, caring family. And he honors them by wearing the #4, for his father, mother, and two sisters. I don’t know if it is still true, but at the time when he came to the majors, he called his mother and father every day.
Joe DiMaggio once said, “There is always some kid who may be seeing me for the first time. I owe him my best.” Center fielder George Springer plays like that. “This is a game where the best part is looking in the stands and watching kids with their moms and dads,” Springer says. “You see them asking questions, smiling, having fun. This game is hard, but that’s humbling to see. I believe it’s my job to try to make as many people’s days as positive as I can.”
“I’m having the best time of my life, not only to have a chance to play and live out my dream, but to see kids enjoying the game.”
Like Altuve and Correa, from his family George has learned a deep caring for and responsibility to those who have suffered as he has. He has become the nation’s leading advocate for stutterers and the face of their organization, SAY.
“His work with SAY isn’t just improving lives, in many cases it is saving lives.” George Springer Jr.
He is not just playing baseball for the thrills, he is not just playing for self-healing, he now plays for the joy of helping others the way he was helped. Says George: “My first year here, I kind of figured out that if I could hopefully help anybody I was going to do that…I’ve been through—I still go through—what these kids go through every day. It makes it easier to go out and help. I’ve experienced it. I wanted to help.”
As a SAY mother said, “You have changed stuttering forever for all these kids.”
- Keeping it light
Though having fun is a team ethic, it starts with George Springer.
“George just cranked up the radio and started singing along.” Robert Dowling, high school coach
Says A. J. Hinch about the man who created Club Astros: “He’s always upbeat..always playing music…he cares—a lot…George’s energy, personality and enthusiasm set the tone for this team. He is so important for this team because he is so likable and relatable. He connects with everyone, whether they are Latin American, pitchers, coaches, front office…Everyone has a comfort level with George. They take their cue from George. ..There’s an everyday component of George that when you’re around him, you’re a little bit happier, a little bit brighter…Ask Altuve.”
Altuve: “George is the heart and soul because of who he is on and off the field. We feed off his personality and his energy.”
George Springer, you are pure gold. All Houston feeds off your personality and energy, your smile and joy. Thank you.
Springer isn’t always able to stay perfectly happy. During a slump last May he noticed that he was getting angry and letting the game “affect who I am.” He sought the counsel of Master Beltran, who convinced George “to go back to having fun. I wasn’t having fun because I wasn’t quote unquote having success. I said, ‘I’m just going to have fun from here on out.’” Soon after Springer led the Astros to their Memorial Day weekend massacre of the hapless Minnesota Twins.
After his disappointing performance in the ALCS, Springer sought similar counsel again from Beltran, and as we all know, he bounced back with one of the greatest World Series performances in history, and an MVP trophy to go with it.