A Baseball Story about Character: An Example for Credit Unions?

Opening Day of the 2024 baseball season is eight days away. Players are being assigned to AAA from spring training or gaining limited roster spots on the major league varsity.

The sporting press is full of hope and enthusiasm. Every team’s ambitions are equal at this starting line. Accompanying these renewed expectations is the ever present realities of enormous player contracts, team moves to save money and whether multi-million dollar veterans will  live up to their salaries and/or overcome temporary injury.

Baseball has become a game as much about money as competitive athletics.  “Winners” are those with record contracts but not necessarily leading their teams to greater success.

However there is a counter story.  It is about a player who stayed true to  the  game of baseball and his own values as told in the Imaginative Conservative:

The Baseball Hero Nobody Knows

By Stephen M. Klugewicz

His career stats indicate that he was a mediocre baseball pitcher—perhaps the epitome of mediocrity: 84 wins; 83 losses; a 4.49 Earned Run Average; a Walks-plus-Hits-to-Innings-Pitched ratio of 1.42.

Yet Gil Meche, who played for the Seattle Mariners and Kansas City Royals, was responsible for one of the most astounding, yet almost unnoticed, acts of virtue ever committed by a sports figure. In the winter of 2011, Mr. Meche, then with the Royals, voluntarily retired from the game, foregoing the final $12 million on his multi-year contract.

Mr. Meche was injured and would have sat out the 2012 season while receiving paychecks. “When I signed my contract, Mr. Meche explained, “my main goal was to earn it. Once I started to realize I wasn’t earning my money, I felt bad. I was making a crazy amount of money for not even pitching. Honestly, I didn’t feel like I deserved it.”

Mr. Meche’s decision is nearly unprecedented in professional sports; countless other injured players have gleefully accepted paychecks while they sat out entire seasons with injuries. “This isn’t about being a hero — that’s not even close to what it’s about,” Mr. Meche insisted. “Making that amount of money from a team that’s already given me over $40 million for my life and for my kids, it just wasn’t the right thing to do.”

Though a small event in the great arc of American history, Mr. Meche’s action would constitute an example of good character in any age, but it is especially noteworthy in the America of the early twenty-first century, an era of dishonesty, self-absorption, and greed. It should not go unnoticed, nor should it be forgotten.

Lost Virtues in Credit Unions

Today the opportunity to cash out one’s credit union tenure and leadership position is advertised in direct marketing appeals.

One headline reads:

1,200 Credit Union Mergers by 2030 –
How Are You Positioned?
The YOU refers to the CEO ‘s who are being solicited.   Either give up and join the merger-sales endgame and /or join in the bidding to secure another credit union’s  resources. The need is urgent.  Here’s why:

With regulations set to zap fee income, interest rates slowing mortgage action, compliance burden increasing costs and the need for scale driving strategic decisions. . . predictions say there may be as many as 1,200 credit union mergers by end of year 2030.

·  Do your financials put your credit union in the position to be a merger or merge?

There is no pretense or subtlety here.  Your future is full of threats, give up now and we’ll help you cash out.  No mention of members’ best interests.  No recognition that virtually every credit union operating today has a charter that has served at least three generations of members and created meaningful reserves of collective wealth and service legacy.

The bottom line in this strategic outlook is that prospective failure can become a CEO’s present  success story.  So get out while the getting is good!

Instead of character and values being triumphant, some coop leaders and their consultant allies are directing the industry into an America of the early twenty-first century, an era of dishonesty, self-absorption, and greed.

These actions dishonor the character of hundreds of Co-op “Gil Meches” who retire each year and loyally pass the credit union’s torch to their successors.

One Reply to “A Baseball Story about Character: An Example for Credit Unions?”

  1. I saw this ad from someone I really respected in the movement and it made me sad and a bit mad.. This will only happen if we LET IT!

    One of my favorite quotes is from Viktor Frankl in the book “Man’s Search for Meaning.” He said, “The last of one’s freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance. Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.” (Viktor was a holocaust survivor)

    And Edward Filene, the founder of American CUs was famous for saying “Keep Purpose Constant.” If we don’t do that, greed, fear, complacency sets in and we see leaders “cashing in” and checking out. Tragic.

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