I had the priviledge of meeting the award-winning author Doris Kearns Goodwin at the Lincoln Forum this morning. She gave a wonderful lecture based on the title of her book, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. She underscored how Lincoln was able to work with his rivals in order to accomplish much good during his years as president. She further suggested that Lincoln’s quiet self-confidence and temperamental abilities allowed him to judge people and issues with peaceful fairness. She added, intestingly, that this intense president also learned how to relax (carriage rides, reading and the theatre) in the midst of great pressure.
At the end of her lecture Goodwin spoke about how she became a writer. She traced it back to her dad teaching her how to score a baseball game as a child. She would score the game day-by-day, listening to the Brooklyn Dodgers on the radio in the afternoon after school. When her dad came home she could retell the story of the game with her scorecard. She learned the skills of research and story telling through these experiences. Later Doris taught her two sons the same skills and now watches games at Fenway Park with them and sees the ability reproduced generationally.
My dad taught me how to score a baseball game as a boy. I thus learned how to recount the story of the game from my notes. I then taught my daughter who then helped me teach my granddaughter. To hear an eight-year old tell me the story of a great White Sox game is a skill I can see in an entirely different light after Doris Kearns Goodwin’s marvelous lecture. Frankly, this made me long for March when I can again see the games for real and start keeping score again. There really is a story to be told in every single game. I hope I can become a better writer as a result of paying better attention to the smallest details.