The Babe hits a deep home run to my Father

September 3, 2013


My Dad's diary
Babe Ruth hit 59 homers in 1921.  My dad almost caught one.

There’s a baseball story that I recently found in my father’s diary.  It was dated July 30, 1921.  It's interesting looking back on this event and what it says about my father. 

Dad was very disciplined, even rigid in his concepts.  He had a tough time “letting go.”  This particular Saturday, he attended a game at the Polo Grounds between the New York Yankees and Cleveland.  He was sitting in the bleachers waiting for Babe Ruth to hit a home run.  Here's what he wrote, “I was wishing Babe Ruth would knock a home run, and he lifted one right to me.  I had my coat and book in hands so couldn’t grab it… Feel like kicking myself for not throwing my coat down, but it came so sudden.”

Most people would have dropped everything for the chance to catch a homer from the Babe.  Dad couldn’t let go.  He was risk averse.  Running a small business during the Great Depression left a lasting impression on him.  In the 1940s and ‘50s, our Hot Shoppes restaurants saw fantastic growth, but my dad didn’t want to take on debt to invest in the hotel business.  He was still hanging on to that coat and book, not wanting to drop something for the chance to grab a greater prize.  Dad’s discipline and hard work built our restaurant business.  He toured every Hot Shoppe checking under the stoves for grease.  He was tough with hard and fast rules. 

But I’ve learned that discipline and hard work can only take you so far.  Just like baseball, you must play boldly to win.  Over the years, Marriott International dropped many businesses – cruise lines, restaurants, theme parks.  It wasn't easy closing the Hot Shoppe restaurants, the foundation of our company, but we freed ourselves up to catch greater opportunities, expanding our hotels globally.  My father needed a lot of convincing along the way to take on debt to build these hotels, but I sensed he didn't want to "kick himself" again for not trying to catch a home run.  Today, we’re a pure play hotel company, and doing better than ever.  

Leave a comment if you've had to take a risk and drop something in order to catch something else.

I’m Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the move.

Listen to Babe Ruth blog

The comments to this entry are closed.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

What a great story, one of my favorites so far! Thank you Mr. Marriott for sharing your wisdom with all of us. Just like you, I also let what I had in my hands go to achieve a greater prize: a family of my own and a TPS in Florida. I thank you for being such an important part of my journey.
J. Allard

Buen día:
Yo soy asociado de Marriott hace ya algunos años, mis primeros Hoteles fueron en la Cuidad de Monterrey, México, cuando la inseguridad en Monterrey se puso difícil tuve que tomar la difícil decisión de dejar Marriott, después de un año de vivir en Puebla conseguí nuevamente un trabajo en Marriott :) en verdad me puse bastante feliz de regresar a mi Familia de la Hotelería, se que en ocasiones es difícil dejar algo para tomar una decisión, pero se que he tomado la mejor decisión, Gracias a Marriott por platicarnos estas lindas experiencias :)

Great post. I know a few people who might have dropped a baby to catch a Babe Ruth home run ball.

Mr. Marriott's hard work ethic still lives on today. I am very proud to be a part of this great global team that even today is growing and doing better than ever.

Thanks for the post. I gotta do Atlas now.

I love your stories Mr. Marriott and look forward to your posts! I love this story about your Dad and how he had to learn the value of risk.

As a children's singer/songwriter, I was trying to figure out ways to get my lullaby CDs out to more of an audience. I found out about a business convention for entrepreneurs that I wanted to attend. The issue was the price tag - $6000. I did my due diligence and from everything I came across, it sounded like a good risk to take. I ended up meeting a woman who was able to get my CDs in the Academy Award Gift Bags that year! I didn't see an amazing spike in sales, but this gave me a whole lot more in credibility. The money was definitely well spent!

It took a lot to risk that amount of money which to me, is very large. Sometimes the risks pay off as this one did. But really, every risk pays off because of the knowledge gained even if the payoff isn't what you'd like it to be.

es una historia bastante interesante y conmovedora , la verdad es que llegamos a esa etapa en la vida donde no es duro el hacer cambios , nos es dificil el tan solo pensarlo en ello , pero la vida esta llena de cambios y estos cambios y retos son los que nos hacen sentir vivos y nos hacen mas fuertes tambien a causa de ellos es que llegamos a valorar cada momento como si fuera el ultimo , estoy seguro que tu padre nunca olvido este momento y que aprendio mucho de el y ahora nosotros seguimos aprendiendo de tu padre a traves de ustedes y su legado . gracias por enseñarnos y dejarnos ser parte de ello .

Mr Marriott,
Such a great story and so fitting for many. Often we have to take a risk in order to gain even greater benefit. The fun part of your story for me is that my grandfather played baseball with Babe Ruth, so the message is timely and especially beautiful for me. To share: I have recently resigned my great job with our organization to go back to school - a scary but exciting endeavor and one I hope that brings me back to Marriott (even more educated) and ready to take on even further challenges. Thank you for all that you provide to each of us through your family legacy.
With sincere appreciation,
Andrea N.
Phoenix, AZ

Dear Mr. Marriott.

I too dropped a great opportunity to grab something greater. 3 Years ago, I left the Marriott family to persue a great local project where I have the hospitality lead and am trying to open a green field project. The experience is priceless and I hope to cross paths with Marriott again in the future and put my experience to good use in the family.

Warmest regards.
Daryl Jaeger

At work I am usually the Marriott historian-in-residence, able to recite excerpts from the Marriott autobiography easily, with key lessons form his book, as well as from your Spirit To Serve book, the Biography Channel's "American Hero" biography of JW, as well as from your blog! As a trainer in various Marriott hotels here in Miami, I've had my chance to meet you and greet you as you continue the old tradition of visiting all properties. I continue to live your family's age old traditions of teaching through a story. Thanks so much for this one about the Babe, I will repeat in in my classes!!

Carreer path change 180 degrees

my father keeps saying :"stop.Think and moove, although everybody keeps standing. Stop.Think. Don't moove, even everybody keeps mooving.
I used that advise 3 years ago when I droped my career as Sales and Quality Manager to catch a my dream : Becoming a trainer.
Now, working for the Renaissance Brand as a Training Manager is a everyday dream come true.

Wow what an awesome story that was. Reminds me of how sometimes playing it safe isn't always the best path and that with the combination of discipline and boldness we can create new paths for our lives and businesses. Great Story , Glad the company i work for puts up great stories like this.

Thanks for the great story. It is a nice segway to open a preshift with. Sometimes we all get caught up in the day to day of business and can not get out of our own way because we hold on to what is familiar, what is comfortable. We don't stretch ourselves because we are unsure. But to really grow as a leader (or a business) you have to be able to recognize the opportunities to grow when they come and really seize the moment.

Seeing just how impactful not catching the home run was to your Father, enough of an impact that he would write about it and to then have the ability to recognize what he should have done is a great asset to have. To be a leader of men, you need to take moments and learn from them, first as to not repeat them but also to be able to teach them to others. To shed the things that impead us growing, personally and professionally, is a great moral for this story that I will take away from reading this and share with my team.


oops! I did see a couple typos to correct from my comment post. I copied, corrected, and pasted here:

What a wonderful story about Babe Ruth & your father. I'm reflecting on my and my husband's path over our seventeen years together as hindsight lets us see clearly some of our "forks in the road." Of the times we did let go (with prayer & faith), sometimes it was truly awesome what did come to fruition. And quite frankly, even when the circumstance didn't evolve the way we had hoped, there still remained much to learn from the experience. "Failure" only occurs when one actually steps out to attempt a desired goal. Right?

And then, there is the other side of the coin... There were significant moments when we did not "let go" to attempt to catch something. We played out the feasibility of the risk in our good-intentioned deliberation and often in good judgement hung on for a better opportunity to come along. However, there are those moments of "What if?" What if we had let go, and even caught the opportunity in front of us? Comfort can be a dangerous distraction. Thank you for that reminder.

Posted by: Andrea Zoet | 09/05/2013 at 03:16 AM

What a wonderful story about Babe Ruth & your father. I'm reflecting on my and my husband's path over our seventeen years together as hindsight lets us see clearly some of our "forks in the road." There were significant moments when we did not "let go" to attempt to catch something. We played out the feasibility of the risk in our good-intentioned deliberation and often in good judgement hang-on for a better opportunity to come along. However, there are those moments of "What if?" What if we had let go... and caught the opportunity in front of us? Comfort can be a dangerous distraction. Thank you for that reminder.

Life for me is always about exploring and challenging yourself towards things which seem near to impossible.
Being a stammerer since childhood, i always had a fear in my mind as to what field should i choose in order to have a rewarding career.Suggestions came to me advising me to take up something which involved less of talking.But, that just did not gave me the kick.
Apparently i decided to start my career in Culinary in hotel operations but always had this thought in my mind; there is much more within me to offer; and here i stand after 5 years into hotel operations, working as a Departmental Trainer, a profile which involves much of public speaking and talking and gives me immense joy in converting my childhood weakness into a much fruitful strength.
I am so delighted that i stuck to my decision of believing in myself and my abilities.

Yes, indeed I dropped (resigned) as a Legal Assistant for a Law Firm close to accept an entry level hourly position for less money with an hour commute to work for Marriott International. My husband at that time thought I had lost my mind to take a cut pay and a longer commute. Here I'm today an Executive Committee member for this company. The risk paid off.

I guess that I am more like your father. I have not taken many risks. However, I feel very, very fortunate to have had such a great life, including a great working career! If I were younger, I would probably knock on Marriott's door for a job!

After working at the Hollywood Beach Hotel, the Mt. Washington in Bretton Woods< NH, and the Waldorf=Astoria I took a chance to join a young hotel company with four motor hotels, one with a liquor license. I remember hearing JW's concern when we built Atlanta, our first center city property, 500 rooms ! It still hurts that I was unable to complete my career with Marriott.

I love your analogy and interpretation of your dad's diary. Its why I look forward to getting your "Marriott on the Move" emails. For just a moment I get to experience and peek into your personal lives and experience the joys and sorrows. Thanks for sharing!