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Former Mudhen Shane says baseball teaches success, failure

August 6, 2007
Elisabeth Sherwin -- gizmo@dcn.davis.ca.us

Sam Shane, the Channel 13 news anchor in Sacramento, has a secret love: Baseball.

Actually, it’s not such a deep secret, it’s just not something you can tell by looking at him when he delivers the news. And it’s not really a secret love, it’s more a passion.

Shane played baseball (second base) for the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers before graduating in 1986 and beginning a career in broadcasting that has taken him from the East Coast to the West Coast and points in between.

But his happiest days were the days in his youth when he was playing amateur baseball throughout Minnesota.

“Remember the movie ‘Field of Dreams’?” he asks. “That was me. I played on a diamond cut out of a cornfield.”

Shane has a buddy, Dan Marso, who also played amateur baseball in rural Minnesota. They played for the Miesville Mudhens.

One day when Shane was working in Seattle – and probably missing the endless summers of baseball – he called Marso in St. Paul and pitched the idea of children’s book. Marso is the illustrator and Shane is the storyteller. They both knew a lot of baseball characters.

The result is two children’s books: “Rocky the Mudhen: We’re Talking Baseball,” and Rocky the Mudhen: Baseball and Humble Pie.” Another spinoff is a 45-second “Rocky the Mudhen” animated cartoon that you can find on YouTube.

Shane found out the hard way how easy it is to say: “Let’s do a children’s book,” and how hard it is to finish the project.

“I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met who’ve said: ‘I’d love to write a book.’ I tell them to do it and warn them that it’s much harder than it looks – but the payoffs are much greater, too.”

Shane wants to share his baseball passion with children. He really is a man on a mission.

“I have a deep passion for the game,” he admits. “It’s a place you can go that’s a whole different world. Golf too is very similar in that it becomes a world of its own.”

And he thinks it promotes family values of togetherness and team work.

“At all levels of my career I’ve seen those who work within a team framework become the most successful,” he said.

But it’s not all about success. Baseball teaches kids a lot about failure and how to handle it – an important lesson for anyone to learn.

“At the same time, the most successful people I’ve known are those who can handle failure well. Baseball is very much a game of failure.

“Consider that great hitters have a 300 batting average – that means they get hits three out of 10 times. They fail more than they succeed – and those are the great ones.”

Shane says there’s no prominent baseball player today that he especially admires. Rather, he admires those who are working quietly behind the scenes to make the game great – like the dads who coach Little League and the high school baseball coaches who do it for the love of the game.

Shane and his wife, Stephanie Beavers Shane, have two young children, too young for baseball…yet.

After working in other markets, they decided to move back to Northern California where Shane had previously worked. Stephanie grew up in Davis.

“We love Davis and moved back for a reason – we plan to stay here for the long haul,” he said.

That’s going to mean a lot of baseball in the future -- back-yard hitting and pitching, Little League, River Cats, UC Davis and whatever friendly games take place in their North Davis neighborhood.

Shane also takes his baseball messages to schools and fund-raisers. For more information on those presentations, email him at sam@rockythemudhen.com

-- Reach Elisabeth Sherwin at gizmo@dcn.org and watch for more local writers to be featured biweekly at this web site.

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