Back in the 1990s when I was a fixture on the Green Hills League baseball fields as one of the fathers ‘helping out’, I knew my place, and I loved my place. I was the dad who would hit grounders to the infielders, warm up the pitcher, shag flies in batting practice and actually pitch in the coach-pitch leagues when my sons were very young.
I did it because my sons wanted to play baseball, I did it because their coaches needed the help, and I did it for me. I love baseball, and quite frankly I wasn’t very good, but I knew enough to help and be of use.
Help being the operative word in the previous paragraph. When my oldest son was ten, the day before, literally ONE DAY BEFORE, the season was to begin, the head coach called me on the phone and told me that he couldn’t handle being a head coach. He was an attorney with some cases that would be time-consuming, and truth be told, he had head coached the same basic team for several years, and frankly the team stunk. The coaches two sons were lousy baseball players in a league where coaches sons were almost universally stars. He asked if I would take over the team. I blanched, panicked, and said, of course, if no one else could be found. No one else could be found.
The year was depressing..totally. I am not a head coach. I can watch a pitcher and tell if his mechanics are decent, but I can’t teach anyone how to pitch. I played a mediocre first base in my one season in Knot Hole baseball. I knew enough to run a ragged practice and I
begged groveled enlisted a couple of dads to help me, but sadly, their skills were on a par with mine.
This isn’t a feel-good story with a happy ending. We won one game, and my son began his journey to baseball apostasy during that season. He still speaks to me, and I love him dearly, and I’m pretty sure he loves me, but it is not because of my coaching skills. Some people have greatness thrust upon them. Personally, I longed for the day mediocrity would have been thrust upon me.
I had a distinct deja’ vu’ experience when I was reading my friend Thomas McKenzie’s blog – one of his daughters is on a team whose coach apparently acted out their abandonment issues. If Thomas is to be believed, his basketball prowress and knowledge was a notch or two below my baseball ability….but trust me, READ the Basketball Diaries. He’s posted three so far, and I’m looking forward to the next installment. I’m pretty sure you will too, if you begin the journey here.