It became known as his “called shot.” In the fifth inning of Game 3 of the World Series on Octo. 1, 1932, Babe Ruth made a pointing gesture during his at-bat after which he hit a home run to deep center field at Wrigley Field in Chicago — the exact direction he had pointed.
A reporter from the New York World-Telegram, Joe Williams, wrote this headline: “RUTH CALLS SHOT AS HE PUTS HOME RUN NO. 2 INSIDE POCKET.” His published summary gave life to the belief that Ruth had indeed “called his shot,” even though Ruth’s intention for the gesture was never verified.
Whether Ruth, in fact, was able to carry out a prediction of where he would hit a ball resulting in a home run, probably doesn’t matter. The tale that has survived to this day is one of believing in what you can accomplish and seeing the belief become a reality.
There have been several stories of that nature in the news lately. Lily Gladstone, Seattle’s Mountlake Terrace High School graduate, is the first Native American to be nominated for best actress at the Academy Awards for her role in Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon.” When as a kid she “caught a lot of bullying,” her dad told her, “Don’t worry, all of those kids are going to want to be friends when you win your Oscar.” Her class of 2004 voted her “Most Likely to Win an Oscar.” Hopefully, this is her time.
Barbra Streisand — who has had a lifetime of rubbing shoulders with presidents, kings, and most of the famous people of the past seven decades — yearned for fame as early as age 5. She gave her first public performance at age 7. The rest is history.
Another Academy Award nominee, Annette Bening, plays marathon swimmer Diana Nyad in “Nyad.” The dream to swim from Cuba to Florida began when Nyad was 9 years old. She asked her mother why she couldn’t see Cuba from the beaches of Florida where they lived. Her mother told her it was just over the horizon — close enough that as the competitive swimmer Nyad already was as a young child, she might be able to swim there someday. At age 64, she completed the 110-mile open water swim from Havana to Key West.
Jennifer Lawrence “always knew I would be famous.” Oprah Winfrey “always knew I was destined for greatness.” Chris Pratt, another Washingtonian, told his high school wrestling coach when asked what he wanted to do with himself: “I don’t know, but I know I’ll be famous.” Self-fulfilling prophesy.
Psychologist Albert Bandura wrote about “Self-Efficacy Theory of Motivation in Psychology.” He defined self-efficacy as people’s belief in their ability to control their functioning and events that affect their lives. Which brings me to my musings about people who become or accomplish exactly what they saw for themselves as youngsters.
Ever since I used the words “Norman Rockwell” in my November column about Thanksgiving, Norman Rockwell paintings on covers of the “Saturday Evening Post” have been cycling through my social media feed. How that works is out of my technical savvy.
Many of the depictions were still in my memory bank until an extra special one showed up. It was called “The Runaway” and appeared on the Sept. 20, 1958, cover. Bear with me here for the link.
Just out of high school, I signed up for a correspondence course (a cumbersome precursor to online classes) in creative writing. I imagined that one day I would be a writer. I did not envision a famous or well-known writer — just a writer. My mom always said, “You are such a good writer,” so I had the piece of self-efficacy that comes from parents — verbal encouragement.
One of the assignments from the course was to write a story based on the Norman Rockwell painting “The Runaway.” I would love to be able to read what I wrote, but, alas, the story is long gone. The course did not jump start any kind of a career in writing for me. However, 30 years later, I hammered out a manuscript that took me 10 years to finish. I said to myself, “I will be on ‘Oprah’ one day.” So, far Harpo Productions hasn’t called.
Writing this column has been my little piece of “becoming a writer.” Sometimes random valley people say, “Oh, you write the Mazama column!” and I secretly beam. One day, I’m going to write a novel and maybe, just maybe, I’ll become a famous writer. Never too late.