Where have you gone, Bobo Holloman?

How to make sure you're not a flash in the pan but rather an All-Star worth remembering.

If you're any kind of baseball fan, you're familiar with Ted Williams, Hank Aaron and Brooks Robinson.

But do you remember Mark Fidrych, Joe Charboneau or Bobo Holloman?

Williams, Aaron and Robinson are among the 258 people - less than 2% of all players and managers who ever wore a uniform - to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. They're in the pantheon of sport's true All-Stars.

Fidrych, Charboneau and Holloman are something else entirely. They're among the other 98% of players, some of whom made their mark on the game . . . some who did not. Not to put too fine a point on it, but they were flashes in the pan. One-hit wonders. Flavors of the week or month.

The quirky Fidrych talked to the ball - often obscenely - and for one brilliant season, in 1976, was an unstoppable pitcher for the Detroit Tigers. The Bird, as he was known, went 19-9 with a stingy earned run average of 2.34. He was the toast of the league, but he quickly faded into obscurity. In the four subsequent years of his short career, he posted a combined 10-10 record before quietly bowing out.

In 1980, "Super Joe" Charboneau was named American League rookie of the year, boasting a .289 batting average and nearly 100 runs batted in. In the next two years, he played only 70 games before disappearing from the sport. Holloman flared out even faster. He was one of a handful of pitchers to hurl a no-hitter in his first major league appearance, but he won only two more games that season and - poof - was gone.

What separates a Hank Aaron from a Bobo Holloman?

That's difficult to say - idiosyncrasies, injuries, fate, among other things. Maybe Holloman didn't know how to pace himself. Perhaps he angered the gods of baseball (as the Red Sox and Cubs seemed to have done). Maybe he just wasn't built to last. Maybe he had only one great game in him.

It's easier to say what unites the Hall of Famers, the perennial All-Stars. They're linked in their rigorous training, the intensity with which they study their craft and their opponents, devotion to honing their skills and an absolute commitment to the game. Williams was perhaps the ultimate student of baseball, a hitter so dominant that opposing teams devised special defensive formations to try to stop him. He even wrote a book for future batters called "The Science of Hitting."

Why? Williams summed it up when he said: "A man has to have goals - for a day, for a lifetime - and that was mine, to have people say, 'There goes Ted Williams, the greatest hitter who ever lived.' "

The same holds true for the people and companies celebrated in this inaugural Enterprise All-Star Issue. They aren't one-hit wonders basking in the glory of a single project or technology implementation. They've executed long-term strategies centered on changing the way business gets done.

That's what it takes to succeed in IT today.

There's no shortage of technology out there. The truth is that companies can't absorb all the new products and services that are presented to them daily. And there is no shortage of problems to resolve - security, mobility, compliance, remote office networking. That's just a subset of the major challenges IT managers face.

The only way to deal with these challenges and to make a difference for your company is to take a disciplined, long-term approach to IT, one that's based on a clear understanding of your company's needs and the strengths and weaknesses of your systems. Success requires an intense focus on the future and a commitment to moving your IT organization forward. It requires that you study more intently and more intensely than others are willing to do.

Some have said that the current era requires a return of IT architecture, which is true. During the client/server era and the tech bubble, we threw a lot of servers, bandwidth and storage at every problem.

But we need to revitalize data centers to virtualize resources and provide far more flexibility. We need to break the bounds of monolithic applications and embrace the adaptability of Web services. We can't do either unless we have a goal in mind, a road map for getting from here to there, an architecture for the structure we're building.

Want to be an All-Star? It's not magic. Redouble your commitment to your craft. Remember what another All-Star, football's Vince Lombardi, said: "The quality of a person's life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor."

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Copyright © 2005 IDG Communications, Inc.