“Good, just not good enough.”
It was a phrase that seemed to follow Kent Stock like his shadow. It was a label he couldn’t shake. It was reality snatching away his childhood dream.
And it was a theme throughout Stock’s autobiography, “Heading for Home: My Journey from Little League to Hollywood.”
Stock was going to be a baseball player. A major league baseball player – just like his favorite player, Bob Gibson of the St. Louis Cardinals.
To Stock, baseball was life.
He studied the newspaper box scores as a child. His school book reports were about baseball. He listened to Jack Buck on the radio too many times to count.
And he was always playing ball. Chasing the dream.
His senior year in high school, he earned special mention all-state honors in Iowa for his nifty glovework at shortstop and steady bat. But Stock wasn’t happy. He set a goal years before to make the all-state team. Special-mention wasn’t good enough.
The dream was starting to crumble. Reality was setting in. But he wasn’t ready to give up.
Stock still thought he could play Division I baseball. But no one was interested. Another blow to the dream.
He was forced to settle for Waldorf College. Nestled in Forest City, Waldorf was only 262 miles from Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha. But it was a world away from the College World Series.
Stock played well, though. Well enough to continue the chase. Maybe a big-time program would notice him this time around.
But like in high school, no one was interested.
The dream was finally over. For the first time, life was bigger than baseball. He had to finish school and find a new career path. One that didn’t include baseball.
Stock was at a crossroads. The one thing that always made sense in life lost some importance. The major leagues would never come calling.
Stock may not have had a future playing baseball. But he finished his playing days at Luther College and coached the team in his fifth year. It was then that he realized he wanted to teach and coach for a living.
He had a new dream.
And sure enough he became a coach – a junior high girls’ volleyball coach. It was another twist in the dream.
A twist that would lead him back to the baseball diamond to coach alongside a legend in Iowa baseball. It was a summer that would change his life. One that was only topped by the next season. Some people know it as The Final Season.
Stock remembers it vividly. He might call it The Dream Season after everything he had gone through before that summer.
Through the good times and the bad, though, his romance with the game never faltered. It was a love affair too strong for reality to destroy.
As Stock says in his book, “Baseball is the thread that connects the various strands of my life. I don’t question how or why it started, because it was always there.”
Baseball may have been an important thread in his life. But his story is sewn together by a much more powerful thread: family.
Even more than the game, his family was always there. He grew up in a loving home. His father and mother and grandparents and family friends were supportive of him his entire life. And the power of those relationships becomes clear as Stock tells his story.
When he fell in love with the game, his family was there. When he lost the dream, his family was there.
And today, family is life. More than anything, Stock wants to be remembered as a great husband, father, and friend.
More than anything, his story is about dreams. It’s about taking risks and fighting back when life gets tough. Life can be pretty tough sometimes. It can tell you that you’re not good enough. It can take away a dream in the blink of an eye, but there is always enough magic left for others. It just takes perseverance, hard work, and a little luck to find that magic.
Stock said it best when he shared some words of wisdom with me once.
“On my way to a dream, sometimes I get lost and find another one.”