The unwritten human history is littered with people who would have been truly great at something, except that either they never knew or they never got the chance. It’s the 3-way accident of birth, time and place.

This is my theory with me and America’s pastime, otherwise known as baseball. Born and raised in Europe, I was schooled in my early childhood in rounders and into my teens in cricket, soccer and rugby. I wasn’t great at any of them, but I wasn’t horrendous.

I lived in the US a couple of times but never tried baseball. I played softball a few times in Dublin, and I was in a hitting pen once, but that’s it. A number of things, though, tell me that I coulda been somebody on or around the diamond. First, I’m small, and size seems less of a barrier in this sport compared with the way many other sports have gone. Second, I have good hand-eye co-ordination from a lifetime of racket sports, golf and cricket. Third, I have a big throwing arm (I’m right-handed). Fourthly, and perhaps most bizarrely, I can’t close my left eye.

What I mean by this is the following. I can close both of my eyes at the same time – in other words do the sleepy thing – and I can close my right eye, but I can’t close my left eye, otherwise known as winking. This has led me to be particularly left-eye dominant, which means that I catch really, really well with my left hand. It makes me rubbish at shooting right-handed, which is another useful by-product.

Good right arm, hand-eye co-ordination, speed round the bases, great catching arm. OK, so the US colleges may not hand out 4-year scholarships on that evidence alone, but I think it’s compelling, or would have been if I was born in a baseball-playing country. It’s the sheer serendipity of life, the glorious what might have been.

The moral of this story is this: always be looking for something else, something new to try, because until you’ve found something you’re truly great at, you have to keep looking. You won’t know til you’ve found it. The same goes with your kids and getting them to try different things.

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