Entrepreneur, Teacher, AND World Series MVP

In 1978, New York Yankee shortstop Bucky Dent hit one of the most famous homeruns in baseball history, destroying the dreams of the Boston Red Sox and their chances of going to the World Series. As a huge fan, I remember the exact moment Bucky’s bat connected with Mike Torrez’s pitch. Little did I know that I’d be able to meet him 30 years later, after enrolling my son in the Bucky Dent Baseball School in Delray Beach, Florida. Recently, I had the chance to chat one-on-one with my childhood idol and pick his brain.

But we didn’t just talk about baseball. I got his insights into entrepreneurship, customer service, mentors and partners, and goal setting. And I discovered that the core values Bucky used to become one of the most famous baseball players in history are the same core values he has used his entire life to build and maintain a successful business and gratifying life.

His advice is right in line with what we recommend here at ETR. And you can use his experience and suggestions to make your own dreams come true – whether it’s to start a business, lose 20 pounds, or become a baseball star.

Entrepreneurship in the Making

One of the biggest takeaways from my conversation with Bucky was how synergistic our philosophies are. Here’s one example. Whether I am speaking at an ETR conference or industry event or I am attending one of my kids’ sporting events, I inevitably field someone’s question about “what kind of business should I start?”

I always tell people they need to start a business that meets two major criteria:

  1. You must be passionate about it.
  2. You must have experience in that field.

This is something Bucky not only understood 30 years ago but implemented. During our conversation, he shared with me that after his famous homerun many people wanted to go into business with him because he had a “name” that provided instant equity. He told me that the majority of these offers were for the restaurant business. He said, “I did not particularly like the idea of the restaurant business and I knew nothing about that business. What I knew and had so much experience in was baseball, and what I loved was baseball.”

It’s no wonder, then, that the business Bucky ended up pursuing was running a baseball school.

He told me that when he was a rookie with the White Sox, he was a guest instructor at a baseball school. He said he loved working with the kids. He had to alter his teaching method and vocabulary depending on the age and experience level of each child, because the only thing that mattered to him was that the child had a great week. He wanted to make sure the child walked away with even more passion for the sport and learned something in the process.

I thought to myself, “Here is someone who understands the value of ‘knowing your customer and creating the best customer experience possible.’”

This is one of ETR’s core business philosophies, and something I personally witness with Bucky’s business. My son attends his baseball school on EVERY school break as well as during the summer. Not only does Connor’s skill set continue to improve, his love for the game continues to grow at the same time.

The Importance of Mentors & Partners

One of the most important lessons I learned from Michael Masterson was that regardless of your professional status and your experience level, EVERYONE needs mentors and partners. Yet I see so many entrepreneurs fight this. They think they can go it alone, and it usually blows up in their face.

This is yet another core business philosophy that Bucky shares with ETR. He told me that his older brother was his greatest mentor. He explained that his brother not only coached him in sports but was also the biggest believer in Bucky’s abilities.

Bucky’s feelings about the importance of mentors and partners is evident in the way he runs his business. He explained that there are now three partners at the school:

1. Partner One is the money guy. He handles everything from reconciling the tuition revenue to paying the bills to dealing with taxes. Everything your CFO would do.

2. Partner Two runs the show behind the scenes. He makes sure the fields are in playing condition, hires the top-notch staff, deals with parent/child issues that arise, and has the marketing team report to him.

3. Partner Three is the face of the business. (That’s Bucky.) He decides on the curriculum. And, of course, he is out there with the other coaches teaching the kids.

The three primary aspects of Bucky’s business are managed by three people who are experts in their field – which is something you should apply to your business. If, for example, you are not a marketing genius and do not have the desire to learn how to market well, that is okay. But only if you recognize that marketing is the most important part of your business and you partner with an expert marketer.

Still Setting Goals

Thirty years after becoming famous, Bucky is still setting goals. But the practice of goal setting did not start when he became a professional athlete. It began when Bucky was a child, determining what he wanted from life. And what Bucky did back then and what we at ETR recommend today are very much in synch.

1. Start with the big picture. Bucky shared with me that all his life he wanted to be a professional athlete. He trained physically, making it his primary goal to become healthy and fit. It was not until he was a sophomore in high school that he decided he wanted to be a professional baseball player, at which point the majority of his workouts become baseball-specific.

The same approach applies whether you are starting a business or you want to lose weight.

2. Conquer roadblocks. Like ETR, Bucky believes in the total elimination of mental and physical roadblocks. For years, people told Bucky that he was neither good enough nor big enough to be a professional athlete. Instead of allowing that to alter his goals, he got those people out of his life.

I know that “things” seem to get in the way of accomplishing your goals. Let’s say you are determined to get healthy and fit. You tell yourself that you will eat healthy and walk one mile a day. But you have an unfortunate accident and break your leg.

What do you do now? Do you give up and allow this roadblock to prevent you from achieving your goal? The way I see it, you have two choices:

• You can put off working toward your health goal for 12 weeks until your leg heals.

• You can start eating healthy while doing some simple exercises that do not involve your leg, and you can start keeping a journal of your progress.

But giving in is not an option. It’s easy to run into obstacles. But you can almost always find a way around them.

3. One is the loneliest number. Just like Bucky, we realize that there is strength in numbers. Study after study shows that having an “accountability partner” will give you a 65 percent higher success rate. Why? Because you have someone else doing some of the pushing.

You know those days when you do not feel like going to the gym or writing a poem or setting up a Google AdWords campaign? With a partner, you can always get help to move forward. It doesn’t matter what your goal is – once you share it with someone, you have a better chance of accomplishing that goal.

It’s funny how life works out. If I’d had the opportunity to meet Bucky when I was 15 years old instead of now, the conversation would have been much different, I suspect. I would not have appreciated everything he had to offer. As it turned out, it was like talking to old friend – not only about baseball, but about business and the importance of excellent customer service and even the role of family values.

If there is a child in your life who loves baseball, check out Bucky’s school at buckydentbaseballschool.com.
And if you have had the opportunity to meet one of your childhood heroes, I would love to hear your story. Share it right here.

Comment on this article

  • Max Canter

    Hi there,
    How are you doing? Awesome article. Just wanted to say hello. I remember when I was 13 years old going to the original baseball school which was at that time called the Ft. Lauderdale baseball school on the back of my buddies moped when i was 13. And even then the great Larry Hoskins was still in charge. He is one of Bucky’s partners today. He is one of the 3 you mentioned in your article. Still the same successful school today but what great lengths they have gone to be where they are today. I have grown up in the Boca area since 1973. When the only developments were Estancia(where I grew up), Boca West, Timbercreek, Horseshoe Acres, Longlake estates and Pheasant Walk. Just to name only a few. I have many encounters with Bucky Dent. He used to live right across the street from my Uncle when he first moved to Florida. And we would see him on a regular basis. I remember he had this beautiful red mint T-bird in his garage. Man was it a cherry. Just the nicest guy. I too had the opportunity to have the chance to get signed by the Baltimore Orioles in 1993. I was traveling around Florida doing the spring training tryout circuit. I started with the Royals, then the Marlins, White Sox, Expos, Red Sox and then the Orioles. Where I signed on a Friday leaving on a Monday…and then it happened…please read link. THANK YOU
    http://dinnerreviews.com/archives/tastier.htm.
    I have since been a Pastry Chef for the last 10 years in and out of the best restaurants around. I also had the oportunity to play with or against Gary Scheffeild, batting practice everyday that summer in ’93 with Charlie Lau Jr. and Alex Rodriguez and was the only 8th grader to be on the Palm beach county allstar team with the likes of Robbie Thompson.
    Some of the restaurants that I have worked at are Aura which used to be on the Ave. and then 32 east, where i worked with my mentor Nick Morfogen. He took me under his wing in 1998 and has given me the guidance to have the skills i have today. He to is a great person. You can probably find an article or 2 still on google if you punch in my name. Max Canter pastry chef. After retiring from the everything that has to do with restaurants and catering jobs. But I do do high end private chefing on Palm Beach. I have taken a huge interest in the internet.
    I have also been looking for a mentor with guidance to the next level of understanding and implementation of the internet beast. I have been told to focus on marketing research from the guys at Internet Marketing Center, Derek Gehl’s boys. I have also taken a fancy to Rich Schefren and Brian Johnson. That Brian is really an amazing person and a wonderful artist in the music industry. I occasional stop by to say hello to them but they are just focused and I don’t think they have time for distractions or some guy like me. I was ready to sell my truck to CarMax so I could afford a private mentoring session with Rich but from my understanding he doesn’t mentor anymore. I am also trying to help my father with his alzheimer’s. And provide for him as he has done so long for me. That is most of my reasoning for the internet business venturing.
    Your company is #1. I must drive by your office 3 dozen times a day. Doing normal errands I do have Rich’s excellerator2 program which is beautiful but for right now it is a bit advanced.
    Would you be my mentor. I could also help with any baseball lessons that the kids might need. All I have is me at this time. I figured working 100 hours a week learning instead of catering would be more beneficial to me in the long run. In between all of this I am also trying to get hired as a Firefighter for Boynton Beach. But the budget cuts have made getting hired almost impossible. You could ask Larry or Bucky if they remember me, i am sure not many have forgotten Max Canter. Thank you for your time. And any guidance would be great.
    “Making The World A Tastier Place”
    Max A Canter…aka…Maxalicious..
    561+350+3999

    p.s. Have Pleasant Day

    p.p.s. here is that link again.
    http://dinnerreviews.com/archives/tastier.htm