From the book “You Can If You Think You Can’ by Norman Vincent Peale is a little known story about one of the best pitchers in baseball history. Steve “Lefty” Carlton who spent most of his career with the St. Louis Cardinals and Philadelphia Phillies has won 4 Cy Young Awards and is presently second in total strikeouts by a left-handed pitcher. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1994.
According to the story, it wasn’t all glory for Carlton. He had pitched well for St. Louis from 1965 to 1969, but started struggling in 1970. He had 6 wins and 18 losses when he received a letter from a fan that commented on how well Carlton threw, but also added how Carlton did not seem positive on the mound. The fan seemed to sense a lack of ambition or enthusiasm in Carlton’s performances.
The story goes on to explain how Carlton attributes a major turnaround in his career to that letter and a major change in attitude. Carlton’s numbers speak for themselves; after that letter he went on to win 4 of his last 5 games that season and posted a 20-9 record the following season.
In 1972, Lefty was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies and had his best season yet, leading the league at 27-10 with an ERA of 1.97, 30 complete games, 8 shutouts and 310 strikeouts. Carlton posted an amazing 46% of his team’s victories as the Phillies finished the year at 59 – 97.
It only goes to show that a few words, written or spoken, can go a long way!