Well, another Spring baseball season has ended and another season is about to begin. I will get to the second season later, but I would first like to tell you about our Spring season. I never expected the season to turn out the way it did. I have always believed that hard work and a positive attitude can carry you far. If you didn’t believe that, you would have become a believer after watching our team.
I have to admit that on the very first day of practice, things did not look too promising. We had a lot of young players, players who were graduating from coach pitch baseball to kid pitch. My son was one of the oldest on the team. We had expected to be playing in the Majors Division, but my son was not drafted so we remained in the Minors. We were disappointed that he did not make it to the Majors. We knew there were some players in the Majors that did not belong there. Players that my son could out play. This was not only my observation, but observations from other parents around the league as well. Anyway, we got over that quickly. It did not phase my son. He loves the game! He would play in any capacity. I was ok with it as well. I saw it as an opportunity for my son to be a leader, an opportunity to grow.
It turns out that our team did not have a coach. I got a call from the league telling me that my son’s team would not be able to play because there was no coach. Well, my son not playing baseball is not an option. I told the league that if they could not find a coach, I would do it. After a few days, I got an email about our first practice from our new head coach. It turns out that the league appointed a head coach who was also our sponsor. What would be the temperament of this coach? Would he be laid back? Would he be hard to deal with? Is he good with kids? These are just a few of the questions that you always go through before the start of each season. I was pleasantly surprised to see the head coach show up with his son and dad. The grandfather did not show up just to watch, he had his baseball glove and was ready to play ball. Excuse the pun, but right off the bat, I could see that our head coach was very friendly and personable. Also, when you have 3 generations on the field, that shows commitment to family, commitment that would bleed over to our team. Since our coach was pushed into this position, I told him that I would be with him every step of the way and support him wherever he needed me. The other key piece to the puzzle was that our head coach was a huge baseball fan. He was a really good pitcher in college. It always helps to have a fan of the game teaching the game.
This post could be a lot longer than it is already so I will cut to the chase. As we began to practice and as our positions started to develop, I saw a glimmer of hope. In this division, there are two positions that you must have to compete, pitching and catching. I was glad to see two brothers show up on the first day of practice who I had the privilege of coaching in the past. One was a very good catcher and proved to be in my humble opinion, the best catcher in the division. On the pitching side, my son with a lot of backyard practice, and a love for the pitching position turned out to be our ace. When you add a shortstop with an explosive bat, a third baseman that could give Carl Lewis a run for his money, and a first baseman that can dig out the tough throws, we were more prepared than I initially thought.
We lost our first game, but what happened next, I would have never imagined. We went on a winning streak that ultimately ended in a win loss record of 15 and 3. We beat all the teams at least once. We ended the season tied for second place. You may ask how can you end in a tie, right? I believe the league should add a tie breaker game in these situations, winner takes all. To be honest, we should have been the first place team. There were some league changes that put us at a disadvantage and I hate to say it, but I believe our team became a target for the umpires. You can read about the incident that started it all here. Nevertheless, I am extremely proud of our players. This was my son’s best season to date. It wouldn’t matter to me if we were 3 and 15. What matters is that our players took another step toward learning the game and becoming better baseball players and had some fun along the way.
As I mentioned earlier, this season is in the books, but we are about to embark on another adventure. My son made the All-Star team. We played our last regular season game Friday and we are back on the practice field Monday. We have a tournament coming up fast. My son as well as my wife and I are really excited. It appears all the hard work is starting to pay off. With that said, I have made it clear to my son that he is stepping onto a team that has players that are very good, better than him. I told him don’t expect to play in his favorite position and don’t expect to even start the game. I also told him to not get discouraged and that he should take this opportunity to bring his game to the next level, to learn from the other players and to learn from his coaches. This is also an opportunity for me to cut the strings. I won’t be on the field or in the dugout. Kids have a tendency to look at their parents during practices and games for approval. I told my son to forget that I am there and listen to his coaches. Overall whether my son plays well or not, it will be a good learning experience. On a side note, I will now be able to break out my camera. I am not sure what type of vantage point I will have at the fields, but maybe I will get lucky and come away with some keepers.
A Banner Day
Below is my favorite picture of the day. Unfortunately, only half our team was present. Outsiders viewing this photo can’t appreciate the diverse personalities represented in this capture. At the far left and far right are two brothers. The one on the left is a happy easy going kid. He appears to have a good time on the field no matter what happens. On the other hand, his brother on the far right takes it to heart when things are not going well. I like this in a player because it shows how serious he is about the game. He wants the win and will do what it takes to get it. At the back on the left, is one of our younger players. This kid was fun to coach. Every now and then you can catch him in the outfield dancing to the press box music or to music of a passing car. He has the potential of having a big bat. As with most young players, confidence is the biggest thing to overcome. I believe as he gains more confidence he will blossom into a great player. Just to the right of him on the back row is the head coach’s son. You can tell by the smile on his face, he likes to kid around and have fun. Don’t let that fool you. He is an excellent ball player. He has a good grasp of the fundamentals. What more would you expect from the coach’s son? He will continue to be great ball player as he progresses through the league. In front of the coaches son, is the “Squeaky Wheel”. He was given this nickname because he always has something to say about something, in a good way. How fitting that I caught him with his mouth open. This kid is an athlete. He does just about everything very well. He was one of our star players. I expect to see big things from him down the road. He also made the all-star team. Last but not least, is my son setting to the right of the Squeaky Wheel. My son quickly took on the name “Iceman”. No matter if we were losing, down in the count, or if the calls were not going our way, he always kept the same temperament. Keeping his cool allowed him to battle back and come out on top. This is one of the challenges as a coach. How to you take all the different personalities and bring them together as a team? I have to give kudos to our head coach. His own temperament was a good match for the kids. He did an excellent job of bringing this team together.
The Sandlot Crew
Below are a few more pictures from the closing ceremonies.
Boys Will Be Boys
Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. I hope you enjoyed the story and pictures. Stay tuned, I may have a story or two from the all-star season. Win or lose I hope my son has fun and takes away experiences that will improve him not only as a baseball player but as a young man.
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