When my coach told me I was going to have to start blogging to help drive traffic to my site, baseballinstructionalvideos.net, the first thing thatcame to my mind was “HELP!” I am no writer. I am not a real creative person. What was I going to blog about? The one thing in my life that I have always had a passion about, other than my family, has been baseball. I started playing when I was 8. My Mom signed me up without consulting me. I had neverplayed and had just seen my first game on TV that past fall. I remember watching a game of the 1976 World Series. I had no idea what was going on. The game did not interest me. Now I was going to have to play. I was the kid who played rightfield for the minimum 2 innings and 1 atbat. I was the kid who wore blue jeans and used my Mom’s old softball glove. I maybe hit the ball 4-5 times all season. But we won 1st place and I got a trophy. Suddenly, I had interest in this sport.
I grew up on a dairy farm so my Dad worked from before sunup to after sundown 365 days a year. If I wanted to spend time with him it was usually riding around on the tractor or helping him milk cows. There was no game of catch, no batting practice, no watching ballgames. I had a younger brother. He decided he wanted to play the game after seeing that I won a trophy. We would play a little catch now and then and sometimes hit rocks with our bat. My second season, I was a little more excited. Our first game we were facing the team that everyone expected to win. They had THE PITCHER. This kid threw hard and was supposed to be the best player in the league. He was also a pretty good friend of mine at school. Somehow that game ( I’m sure it was way more luck than skill) I put amighty swing on one of his pitches and it landed on the other side of the fence. That is when I fell in love with the game. Suddenly it was all that I could think of. My Dad missed it. He had actually stopped working early that evening, but stayed home to host Bible Study. My Mom took me to the game and we rushed home after so she could attend. I’ll never forget walking into the house so excited. I could not wait to tell my Dad about my homerun. I ran into to the room and interrupted. I told him my news. He shrugged. He was probably the least excited person in there. I will never ever forget that feeling. My Dad would tell me years later that he was not real happy about my Mom pushing us to play sports. It would take time away fromus being able to help on the farm. It was the way he was raised. He was never allowed to play even though he had interest when he was growing up. Baseball went on to being my rescue from life on the farm. I worked hard at it and earned a scholarship to college. The one thing that I lacked was great coaching. I always seemed to land on a team where a Dad that had no experience in baseball was the coach. I pretty much figured thingsout on my own through watching baseball games or shows like The Baseball Bunch or This Week In Baseball. I watched players like Johnny Bench or Lou Pinella give hitting instruction on these shows. I ate it up. I read every book, magazine article, and newspaper article I could find about baseball.
I stopped playing when I was 31 years old. Baseball had done a lot for me. It paid my way through college and gave me my first job out of school. Now it had almost taken my life. I was struck by a line drive right behind my temple while pitching. They brought a priest in to read me my Last Rites at the hospital. They asked my wife if I had a will. All of this I was told later because I don’t remember much other than a Doctor with a beard. Four days later I gained my senses and realized I was in a hospital bed with all kinds of things hooked up to me. I asked my wife what the heck was going on? She told me what happened and that I was done with baseball (Little did she know I was not. I was just going to have to change my focus). I noticed a little TV that was on a arm coming out of the ceiling. I asked the nurse if she could pull it closer and turn it on. I wanted to watch ESPN to catch up on scores and see what games were being televised that evening.
I went home a few days later. The doctors said I was extremely lucky. If the ball had not broken my skull or hit me 1/4″ closer to the front, I would have probably died on the field. He too, told me my playing days were over. How would I stay involved with the game I so loved. Oh yeah. I had a 5 year old daughter and a 2 1/2 year old son. I swore to myself that I would pour every last ounce of my energy into helping my kids become what they wanted to become in sports and anything else in their lives. My daughter played a couple of seasons of softball, but never had the passion for it. She liked soccer better and eventually ended up on the volleyball court and earning a college scholarship. My son, on the other hand, tokk to baseball like it was the greatest thing ever invented. He was always that kid that was the first one to tie his shoes. He rode his bike without training wheels way before his friends his age. When everyone wanted roller skates to play strret hockey, he opted for roller blades. I knew he had something special. He excelled in soccer. He excelled in football. He did pretty good when he wanted to in basketball, but never really cared for it. Believe it or not, I never pushed my kids to play anything. I only pushed them once they decided to play. Why play if you are not going to dedicate yourself to become the best you can be?
At the beginning of every year I would sit down with my kids and we would discuss the upcoming year. What did they want to play? What would their goals be? My son wanted to play college and pro baseball like me. Only he wanted to be better. He wanted to work at it. He plays year round now with school ball, travel ball, and now showcase ball. It’s been that way since he was 6. I always worry about him burning out, but every year he insists he wants to keep doing it. The other sports have fallen by the wayside. He is baseball 100% now.
Going back to his 6 year old season, I was working a job that required a good bit of travel. I was gone most of the week, but was always home on the weekends when the games were played. Because of my work schedule, I was not able to coach. I helped out during the games, but missed the practices. He was the first player chosen that year in the draft. The “new guy” won the right to the first pick. He had just moved to town and knew no one. His wife had signed him up to coach so he would have to spend more time with his son. Unfortunatley, he did his homework and selected my son. He was a great guy. He just knew absolutely nothing about the game. That was when I decided I was a “fulltime” coach.
My son is 15 now. He is in his freshman year. He is playing High School baseball and as soon as the seaon is over he will be playing in a college showcase program. This will be the first year that I will not be coaching him. I am ready for the break and I think he is too. He has worked very hard to get to where he is. I have also been very hard on him. I’m not as crazy as some Dads that I have come across, but I know there have been times that I have pushed too hard. I’ve made him watch numerous baseball training videos, take countless hours of batting practice, and probably millions of fungoes. I have done everything that I feel I could have done to try to help him reach his goals. Now I had to hand him off. The only problem is that I still could not quit coaching him after the game.
I know I’ve been rambling and have probably gotten off track a few times. I’m still not a good writer or a very creative person. The one thing blogging has done for me is it has given me a chance to think long and hard about his game and how he is doing. When I come home and blog after one of his games, I remember all of the great things he did. Not just the bad things. Before I had made a list in my head about all the things I saw him do wrong. The second we were together after the game, we talked about it(at least I talked). Now I think more about the good things. I have really grown a lot as a result of this blog. It might be the best thing I have ever done for my son. He seems a lot more relaxed and seems to be having a lot more fun.