It was only a few minutes, but Wendy Lewis had a room full of young ladies hanging on her every word.
“I saw myself in all of you,” said Lewis, the senior vice president of Major League Baseball Diversity and Strategic Alliances last Friday at the Twins ballpark as the featured speaker for this year’s RBI World Series opening banquet. “We are much more the same than we are different.”
Before her remarks, Baseball’s highest ranking Black female executive watched the softball players ages 19 and under who came as far west as Hawaii, as far south as the Dominican Republic, and as far east as New Jersey converse with each other without some handheld device in their hands during the dinner. “You don’t even know how meaningful that is… It’s been a long time since I’ve been with a group of people in this age group,” Lewis told them, reminding them that they are part of a generation “that can do things so successfully, so remotely, so isolated that people have forgotten how to be human” and as a result, people today use cell phones as “appendages.”
“It is not by coincidence or by happenstance” that they reached the Twin Cities this year, reaffirmed Lewis as she recalled what she read earlier that day during her morning Bible study: “There are only 1,440 minutes in each day — that’s it. The value of what you bring, the value of what you receive is very dependent on how you divide those minutes. I want you to remember that as you get older; the things that you love and the games that you play will change. But you always will have 1,140 minutes [each day].”
Playing sports as a youngster taught her many life skills: “how to listen, how to communicate, how to lead and how to follow… I need you to know that the time you are here has so much [more] value than you might even think,” stated Lewis.
Then Lewis got personal: “You need to know that I really struggled to get to college,” admitted the senior vice president. “You need to know that one time I was married, then got divorced and ended up a single parent with three daughters to raise. And when I did go to college, my twin daughters also were in college. We became students together.”
“It was interesting sitting on the dais,” observed RBI Director David James, “and be able to watch the young ladies and their expressions, and how [they] reacted to Wendy’s speech. I think it was very motivational.”
“I want you to know that you will continue to endure struggles,” says Lewis, “even to achieve the things that you have to do and the things you want to do, and the things that you have been so successful. Just the fact you are here is congratulatory enough. You inspired me and I haven’t watched a game.”
Afterwards Lewis told the MSR, “I’ve been inspired ever since I seen them earlier today.”
“She made them think,” concludes James of Lewis. “I think she challenged them.”
See the photo gallery of the 2013 RBI Softball World Series opening banquet below.
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org
2013 RBI Softball World Series opening banquet at the Twins Stadium (August 9, 2013)