Monday, April 16, 2007

Coach Pitch Baseball - Diary Of A Dad's Loss Of Sanity

Between playing or coaching, I have been involved in baseball for 44 years. I've had all differents kinds of experiences from staring off into space during my own Little League games to a free-agent tryout with the Yankees to a front office job with a minor league team. One of the two jobs I have right now involves teaching kids how to play baseball. I've also been a successful coach at the high school level. But nothing - absolutely nothing - could have prepared me for the experience that is called "head coach for a coach-pitch baseball team."

Take this past Saturday for example. At one point in the middle of the game, my second baseman was crouching down in the catcher's position, my right fielder was writing his name in the dirt (his spelling was perfect, BTW), my shortstop - one of the top three players on the field - threw the ball to first base once-twice-three times underhand (!), and my pitcher was rolling around in the dirt. So yes, that was me standing in short right field wondering exactly what I had gotten myself into.

Is it a bit exasperating? Well sure. But it's also a lot of fun and more rewarding than I thought it would be going in. There's nothing like the look on a little kid's face when he swings at the pitch and actually hits the darn thing. And for the parents of that child, it's an indescribable joy as they watch their son or daughter sprint (okay, maybe jog is a better word) to first base. My own son couldn't wait for this season - "It'll be real baseball, Matt. No more T-ball. Coach pitch is the just the start." Of course, he wants to know if when he gets to "kid pitch" the players then pitch to the coaches, so some of the finer points of the game are still beyond his grasp. I can tell you this - nothing...and I mean NOTHING...comes close to describing the rush of emotions when my son comes up to the plate to hit against me. He smiles at me; I smile back. And then I make a motion with my glove to let him know that a "fastball" is coming. He "digs in" even deeper in the batter's box. I wouldn't trade those moments for anything in the world. And I don't think he would, either.

As for the team's performance so far, we're 0-2. Our starting pitcher (that would be me) may have to come to the realization that when 6-year olds start taking you deep it may be time to consider hanging the spikes up. Something tells me that when the Yankees start the process of looking for Joe Torre's replacement I won't be on the short list.

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