Change is good, really
I love the Dennis Eckersley story. Eckersley was a starting pitcher of some renown with the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox, throwing a no-hitter in 1977 and winning 20 games — the dividing line between a good season and a terrific season — in 1978. He seemed on his way to greatness.
But, as often happens in stories like this one, Eckersley veered off the road. His 90-plus mile an hour fastball lost its pop and his win total started to slide, a decline made easier by an alcohol-abuse problem. By 1986, he was through as a Major League starting pitcher, with a total of 151 wins — a respectable, but not great, total. All in all, it seemed a disappointing end to his career, given the success he realized in the early stages.
I thought of Eckersley as I read this edition’s cover story, which provides insight as to what the future might hold for land mobile radio dealers — in the voice of the dealers themselves — who also are facing crossroads.
Eckersley could have thrown in the towel, accepted his fate and faded from the scene. Instead he went to Oakland, where they had the seemingly insane notion of turning Eckersley into a closer. (For the non-baseball buffs among MRT’s readership, a closer is charged with the critical task of making sure the other team doesn’t eke out a win in the late innings of a game.)
It was an insane notion because Eckersley had lost much of his velocity — a blazing fastball generally is a prerequisite for being a closer — and had a few personal demons he was trying to jettison. The result of the experiment was almost equally insane: Eckersley only went on to become perhaps the best closer in baseball history to date and this month will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Just as Eckersley reinvented himself, the land mobile radio dealers featured in this edition’s cover story are adapting. While it would be easy for them to use the erosion of their core businesses as a convenient excuse to fold their tents, they instead are searching out and embracing new opportunities. Their stories are every bit as uplifting as Eckersley’s. Here’s hoping they find similar results.