Jack Flaherty was one of the most impressive rookies in the National League for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2018, and now we have some insight as to why. Flaherty’s diligence and desire to learn from arguably the greatest pitcher to ever live is demonstrative of an ethic that will take him far in the league.
It started when St. Louis Cardinals legend Bob Gibson reached out to talk to the young Jack Flaherty. He was making strides as a rookie for the Cardinals, and it impressed Gibson enough to prompt him to take Flaherty under his wing in a sense. A relationship blossomed, and Gibson left his email and phone number in Flaherty’s locker last season.
“I had maybe talked to him for 5 minutes the previous year,” Flaherty recalled on the Jim Rome Show in August. Gibson had originally reached out to try and meet Flaherty, and Flaherty knew this was a chance that he simply couldn’t miss.
“I saw on a monitor that he was sitting in the dugout,” Flaherty explained. “I was like, whatever I have to do, it is not as important as running outside and talking to that guy.”
I think this statement speaks volumes about Flaherty as a person and his desires. It shows that he not only possesses the correct ethic, but also the awareness to understand when and how to properly take advantage of opportunities to improve.
While Bob Gibson is a name that players would not squander the opportunity to speak to, it is the sustained communication between the two that has impressed me. While Gibson taking the time to reach out and speak with Flaherty demonstrates his investment in his development, Flaherty obviously has much more to gain with continued talks with Gibson.
This leads me to believe that it was mainly Flaherty who reached out in the months following their initial encounter. The relationship is still strong enough that even the St. Louis Cardinals Twitter felt it was noteworthy enough to mention.
Maintaining these types of relationship can be a monumental step in the development of one’s game, but not all players have the time, sense, or opportunity to maintain consistent contact. It requires both initiative and a constant self-consciousness about one’s own game, and the flaws within it.
After all, you can’t just pester a man in his 80’s and a baseball player of Gibson’s caliber by constantly asking, “What did I do wrong?” You have to ask specific questions to get specific answers, and that’s what I am sure that Flaherty is doing on a regular basis.
A self awareness about areas in which he could improve combined with the opportunity to get coaching from Bob Gibson and the talent to utilize that coaching should have fans excited about what is to come for both Jack Flaherty and the St. Louis Cardinals.
Flaherty’s contact with Gibson is not a factor that should be understated, and Flaherty knows it too. When his career is all said and done, I am sure he will look back to his time talking to and learning from Gibson as one of the most instrumental factors in maximizing his talent and the success he will surely enjoy in his career.