Oct

1

MittBefore I discovered women, I had only one love — playing baseball. Back in the Pleistocene era in New York City, when I grew up, it was still possible to play almost every day, either at a pick-up game at the park or on one of the organized teams. Since our family moved seven times before I reached high school, I never had the luxury of staying with an organized team for more than a year or two; but it did teach me a great deal about coaching. The talent level on the teams was pretty much the same, but some were wonderful and some were terrible. The difference was the approach of the adult in charge. The coaches who had the patience to first let us play, to choose up sides and go at it just as we would have if there were no adults around, always had better records than the ones who had "organized" practices. The "lazy" coaches who simply stood and watched most of the time learned who their players were and what they could do well and what they did that needed improvement. Their coaching was limited to a few comments to individual players from time to time. The "organized" coaches, on the other hand, had a system for winning; and, by G-d, you would follow it or else. By the time Dad hit it rich and we moved to a big house in the expensive suburbs, almost all the practices were "organized" and there were very few coaches left around who were skilled and patient enough to be able to watch and then tutor individual players. Instead, there were endless lectures about the one right way to do things plus lots of yelling about "mistakes" (this, in a game where even Tom Glavine can sometimes only last 1/3 of an inning). It became as bad as school. What saved me was finding some "old guys" (who must have been, at most, in their mid-30s) at the nearby town who played weekday evenings in the park by the prison. None of them wanted to play catcher any more so I got to be the designated backstop for both sides. It was heaven.


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