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Always Stand In Against The Curve

carroll smith

Carroll Smith

In 1983, Mississippi author Willie Morris published a collection of short stories titled “Always Stand In Against the Curve.”

The content primarily focused on small-town baseball and football and the coming of age years for a Southern teenage boy.

Being an avid Morris fan, I bought a copy and asked him to sign it to my son, Matt, who was just beginning to fall in love with baseball at the time. Although he was a little young to digest the content of the book, he placed it on his bookshelf to save for reading at a later date.

I haven’t thought about this book in a while until Matt and I began discussing how appropriate it would be for my grandson, Jake. Since he lives and breathes baseball in Dallas, Texas, we decided his 14th birthday would be a good time to pass it on.

The advice to hunker down and stand in against a curve ball coming at you instead of swinging wildly in a panic makes sense in the context of baseball. But it occurred to me this same rule would apply to any type of curve ball life throws at you.

For example, farmers face challenges every day from adverse weather that sometimes seems to “come out of nowhere” or weed and insect pests that need constant monitoring and control to preserve yields for the end of the season. But despite these uncertainties, they are always ready to hunker down and stand in to make the best of what they have to work with.

Arkansas cotton farmer Michael Mangrum, who is featured in the cover story, says one of the greatest challenges he believes U.S. producers face is on the trading front.

His approach to standing in against the world marketplace curve ball is this: “I enjoy the farming lifestyle, but I am a businessman who wants to earn money by marketing my cotton fairly to other countries. To me, it’s important to get a price for my crop that I am comfortable with, sell it and then do it all again next year.”