Last week it was announced that, after many years of (our) waiting and hoping, former Minnesota Twins pitcher Bert Blyleven had been voted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. In yesterday’s local paper, Blyleven was asked about the speech he planned to make when he is officially inducted in Cooperstown, NY on July 24.
Here’s what he said:
“A Hall of Fame speech is not talking about yourself; it’s talking about the people who helped you get where you’re at right now. There are so many great people who helped me.”
We loved the response, and it is not just because Bert is a Minnesotan or because we are trying to get him to circle us on television broadcasts next season. (Blyleven does color commentary for Twins games and is known for circling fans in the crowd with his telestrator.) We loved the quote because it is so thoroughly sociological, recognizing that all of Blyleven’s accomplishments are not fully his own and in fact the result of lots of cooperation and assistance from others along the way.
NYU sociologist Dalton Conley talked about this recognition that we all stand on the shoulders of others when he did a special video chat with our intro undergrads here last spring—but he added a twist. Conley talked about how he always asks his own intro students how they had come to their academic success and being enrolled at his/their prestigious institution. His white students, Conley told us, typically talk about how hard they had worked in high school and throughout their lives; students of color, in contrast, usually tell him about all the people who had helped them along the way. Hall-of-famers in the making? Circle them, Bert!