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Reflection on 20 Years of Marriage: What Baseball, Bitsy Hatteberg, and My Wife Have In Common

In Michael Lewis' 2003 book Moneyball, Scott Hatteberg, the former catcher with the Boston Red Sox, had been acquired by the Oakland A's, and was told he was going to play first base, a position he had never played before. Scott was so nervous, so afraid, that he asked his wife to start hitting ground balls to him, just so he could get used to the position.

Mrs. Scott Hatteberg listed herself at five foot one, 100 pounds. She wasn’t built to hit in the big leagues. She didn’t even look capable of grounding out to first base.

Bitsy had noticed something about her husband. Even though he’d been in the big leagues for five years, and had been the starting catcher for the Boston Red Sox, he had never really thought of himself as a big league ballplayer. The other players volunteered their autographs to fans before games. He never did, not because he didn’t care to, but because he was worried they wouldn’t know who he was. He doesn’t admit this; she senses it’s true all the same. And she doesn’t particularly like it. It isn’t that she wants baseball fans to know who her husband is. She wants him to know that they know who he is. And so, from the end of December to the start of spring training, in the drizzling rain, with her daughters wailing that they want to go home, she whacks big league ground balls at her husband.

Ten years later, this story has always stayed with me, because it describes my wife, Toni.

She believes in me.

In the 20 years we've been married, she's supported me, pushed me, and cheered me on, with anything I've ever done. I truly would not be where I am without her love and support.

I can look back over my accomplishments and work and see her touches on everything. The times when she stayed up late with me while I was working. The times when she kept the kids quiet so I could sleep. When she told me she was proud of me on the days I wanted to quit. When she counseled me to take, or avoid, opportunities. It all adds up, and I've been pleased with what her influences have brought over the years.

I've been thinking about Bitsy Hatteberg lately, because Toni and I are celebrating our 20th year of marriage today. Today at 11:35 am EST, we will have been married for exactly 20 years on the nose.

240 months.

7,305 days.

175,320 hours to the minute.

It's been 20 years of love and support, and helping me achieve my dreams, while I love and support her to help her achieve her own.

Even as she builds her own singing career, I do what I can to support her and cheer her on. I don't know if I'm doing it as well as she does, or if I'm doing enough. But if I can "be her Bitsy" half as well as she has been mine, she'll be a star.

Ultimately, my success hasn't just come from me pushing myself, it has come from Toni pushing herself. As I try something new, it means new ideas and new experiences for her as well. It means learning the things I learn, so she can continue to guide me down the right path.

It means, sometimes, she has to whack big league ground balls to me, when I'm still trying to learn about them myself.

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  1. Happy Anniversary Erik and Toni!!! I'm happy to know you both! And Toni is doing a great "Bitsy" because you are a phenomenal writer, and person!! I'm not sure if you can field a ground ball at first base, but that is beside the point. ;)


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