This is the first of many posts to come. I have been a fan of baseball my entire life, but nothing tops the feeling of watching a child succeed after working so hard.
I remember about 10 years ago, I had a kid take a ball in the face that broke his nose. He was a bloody mess! I couldn’t believe how much he bled that day. It was all over one of our parents, horrible scene. He was only 8 at the time and the pitcher he was facing was easily throwing 50mph.
The accident actually happened during a scrimmage game before the season even started. He was out for a couple of weeks and returned with a clear face guard on his helmet. For the entire year he didn’t even come close to getting a hit. As we practiced for our end of the season tournament, I noticed he wasn’t even within a foot of the ball. But, he was not stepping out afraid either!
I asked him simply, "can you see the ball when I pitch it"? He stated no! With minor objections I convinced his mother to let me pitch to him w/ a helmet w/o the mask. Smack, crash, he was ripping the ball! The last game of the season, he hit a shot into the gap in left center, A DOUBLE!!!!
The smile on his face I still see as plain as can be to this day. That, my friends, is why we put so many ours into this thing we call Little League! That my friends, makes every long hour worth it. This is a memory I will take to my grave, I know it is one he will also.
That is where I come from. I was born in 1964 in Newport News, VA. My father, who just died on December 29th, 2007 at the ripe age of 86, worked his entire life in the Newport News Shipyard. He was an electrical designer and I acquired his sense of liking to take things apart to see how they work. That is probably how I ended up here!
I had a great childhood, the youngest of 5, (by 9 years!) I was a spoiled brat. My sisters never put me down and my parents actually had a few dollars (very few) to buy me a toy or two. My first memory of that is Christmas with my GI Joe Radar tower! That was a cool toy! I woke up at 5AM to play w/ it!
I grew up in a musical environment. My mother often played the piano and my sisters were into music one way or another. There was often a sing-along going on around my house. I remember we had an old slider storage thing that held a bunch of old albums. I used to listen to the Christmas ones and sing as loud as I could along w/ them.
Then I bought one of those Ronco compilation albums. I used to wear it out and pretend I was playing and singing on stage all day long. It was really cool. That was, of course, when I wasn’t playing ball.
Ah yes, game day! Little league was everything to me. I was there early, and every day. If we didn’t have a game we were playing cup-ball by the concession stand. If not that, hot box. If we weren’t at the field, we were home playing wiffle ball in the back yard. We actually had stats and standings we played so much!
One of the most amazing memories of my childhood is repeatedly breaking windows and not getting in trouble! We had a two car garage and in between was brick about two feet wide. About 1/2 way up our driveway we had a joint where the concrete had been poured. That was my mound! I used to throw against that thing all day long! Left handed, right handed, I didn’t care.
But, I used to break the glass on the garage doors at least once a month! I never got in trouble for that either!! Know why my dad did? He took two pieces of plywood and put hooks on them, then he mounted hooks on the garage doors above the windows so I could hang them and not break the glass any more! How cool is that? (Of course we still broke windows in the back of the house w/ wiffle balls that we hit to hard into the house)
Back in those days I used to ride my bike over a mile to my games! I would get there early to warm up and my parents would come later to watch. I had to ride through the woods to get there! Can you imagine doing that today? Our children are really sheltered, it is up to us as coaches to allow them the space and freedom to succeed, and more importantly, to fail.
Anyway, that is how I ended up here! I just love the game. I did play up to high school, but all of my friends played soccer, so I joined them. I was the third highest goal scorer in my senior year and we were one goal from the district championship.
I have a 23 (almost 24) year old son, a 12 year old daughter, an 11 year old daughter, a 7 year old son, and a 3 year old son. I have coached Little League since the 23 year old was in T-ball. That makes me an 18 year veteran of the league and qualifies me to write this blog as well as comment on your posts. I have also served on the board of directors of two little leagues for a total of 12 years.
Over the coming years I hope to get to know many of you well and I look forward to working through any number of concerns that each of us may have. As the title of this blog suggests, Little League is much more than baseball, it is "life’s lessons"!