When I managed Team USA to its first and only Gold Medal in baseball, I felt that it was bigger than my 50+ years with the Dodgers, bigger than my All-Star victory, bigger than my two World Series titles, and people thought I was crazy.
You see, when the Dodgers win, Dodger fans are happy, but Giants fans and Padres fans aren’t. But when you win the Gold Medal, all of America is happy.
What a feeling it is to represent your country, to do something for your country.
When baseball was eliminated from the Olympics, Commissioner Selig and his staff thought this was the perfect answer to the loss. An international tournament that will (a) show everybody how international baseball is and (b) prove to the world who has the best baseball players.
The Dominican Republic is stacked. Cuba has historically been good, but nobody really knows what they are working with down there. Japan is technically sound. Korea can surprise everybody.
And then there is the USA. Nobody should beet us. Nobody should beat America. Baseball is our game, and we shouldn’t let anyone beat us.
But in order for the US to win, the players have to want it. You see, it’s not always the fastest man who wins the race, or the strongest man who wins the fight; it’s the one who wants it more than the other guy.
Team USA has to want it.
So I was at a local TV station and who comes in after me but two members of the Harlem Globetrotters.
Many years ago, I actually refereed a Globetrotters game. They knew that I had refereed a game in the Eastern Pro League, and when I moved to Los Angeles, they asked me to do it.
It was a lot of fun, and guess what, the Globetrotters won.