Joe and Larry: A Message from Leadership Expert Jim Stovall

There are several questions we can ask ourselves to perform a sort of self-examination to determine how mature, well adjusted, and enlightened we are. One of these questions is:  Am I happy when my relatives, friends, or colleagues succeed? Almost all of us would agree that we don’t want our acquaintances or loved ones to fail, but the question remains, do we want them to experience success far beyond our own? This question reveals whether we believe the universe to be infinite or finite, meaning that someone else’s success could limit our own possibilities.

Most of us played ball of one sort or another when we were kids. Everyone wanted to be the best ballplayer on the block. I just read a fascinating book about a man named Joe who was such a great ballplayer that he was drafted into Major League Baseball when he was just 16. But Joe wasn’t even the best ballplayer who lived on his block. It turned out that Larry was the best ballplayer on the block, and they both played the same position. Joe and Larry were catchers, so even though Joe made it to the Major Leagues, Larry was even more successful in the Big Leagues and was enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

After their playing careers, Joe and Larry both pursued sports broadcasting. Larry found some success doing color commentary on Major League broadcasts, but Joe made it big with a national network and was later honored for his broadcasting prowess in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Throughout their lives, Joe and Larry were inevitably compared to one another. When Joe was asked how it felt to be a Big League catcher after never being recognized as the best catcher in his neighborhood, he told how proud he was of Larry and how lucky he was to have Larry as a friend. After he retired as a player and began broadcasting, Larry was asked how it felt to be a Hall of Fame player on the field but then have his friend Joe eclipse his success as a broadcaster. Larry spoke fondly of Joe and how proud he was of Joe’s great success as a broadcaster.

You and I can learn a lot from Joe Garagiola and Lawrence “Yogi” Berra. They were both great successes in their professional and personal lives. They realized that their own success should not be compared to anything other than their own potential. They both knew the satisfaction that comes from doing your best and succeeding while enjoying the greater success of a friend.

Joe Garagiola became famous for broadcasting sports as well as being the host of the Today Show. Beyond becoming a Hall of Fame baseball player, Yogi Berra became famous for a number of his offbeat sayings that carried a deeper seed of truth, but we would miss the bigger story of Joe and Larry if we didn’t understand how their combined success positively impacted them both.

As you go through your day today, strive for your own success, and celebrate the success of others.

Today’s the day!

Jim Stovall is the president of Narrative Television Network as well as a published author of many books including The Ultimate Gift. He is also a columnist and motivational speaker. He may be reached at 5840 South Memorial Drive, Suite 312, Tulsa, OK  74145-9082; by email at; on Twitter at; or on Facebook at

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