Last winter, I wrote about Rocco Baldelli (Rocco or the Ram), once touted as the next Joe Dimaggio. But his playing with the Tampa Ray Devils was erratic. They knew he had talent but they couldn’t rely on him to play. When his contract ran out, he wasn’t rehired – he became a free agent.
When the Red Sox picked him up, many fans must have wondered why. Some bloggers wrote that he was damaged goods. When he got a diagnosis, channelopathy, those fans must have been even more skeptical. Can’t you just hear them asking, “channel who?”
What he and his doctors know is that he gets extremely fatigued after an extended period of physical exertion. But Sox management had a very specific role for Baldelli as fourth outfielder. “That job as a fourth outfielder is not an easy one, especially for a big-market team like Boston. Players are asked to play sparingly, but must produce when they do play.”
It’s been a good fit. It’s unlikely he’ll be the next Joe Dimaggio. Nor will we get to know what kind of player he might have been, if he hadn’t developed a chronic illness.
But he’s shown that he’s got what it takes to live a fulfilling life in the face of disappointment and physical discomfort. He didn’t despair when he wasn’t playing as expected. He didn’t say no to this offer with the Red Sox, putting him in a lesser role than he would have wanted in healthier days.
Yeah, he’s got tremendous talent. And that helps. But more importantly, Rocco Baldelli’s got resilience and flexibility, two star qualities. And two important keys to job success for anyone –people with chronic illness and healthy people, too.
And, let’s not forget that the Red Sox management was able to see what Baldelli could do rather focusing on what he can’t do. Too bad more employers don’t do that. Another key to job success.
But the most important key here is job fit, particularly with chronic illness. He was the right man for this job and this job was right for him. Without that, the other keys wouldn’t have clicked into place.
FYI – after the Rocco/Ram post, a reader emailed me saying I should ask Baldelli if he wanted chronic illness career coaching from me. I laughed. Yup, I would have loved the chance. I didn’t contacted him though and he seems to be doing just fine. Are you?