Tuesday, April 03, 2007


(After winning our first game 31-7).

Then the criticisms began, in a pseudo-friendly way. “Why do you call all the boys by their last names?” “They all have first names, you know.” “They are just little boys.” “Do you know their first names?”

I ignored those remarks. I called all the kids, even mine, by their last names because I knew it would make them feel older, more mature. I didn’t want them to feel like little boys. I made it a point not to get friendly with any of them. I was the boss and I ordered them around and they did what I told them. That was our relationship.

But it had started. The parents, who had walked out on the team, had seen success and now wanted back in. At our next game they brought a huge dispenser of iced orange Gatorade and hung it in our dugout. Have you ever tried to keep a dozen 8-year-olds focused when there was unlimited orange drink around? The kids were constantly lined up for a drink. It was a severe distraction. Despite that we won the game easily. Drinks were banned from the dugout.

Then they complained that my kid was playing second base when better players were in the outfield. That was true but I didn’t respond. That is the manager’s prerogative. Little did they know, I would gladly have stepped aside to let anyone else manage so they could then play their kid wherever the frack they wanted.

Then came the killer complaint. I HAD SWORN IN FRONT OF THE KIDS! This was my golden opportunity. I couldn’t remember having sworn, but I immediately resigned as manager. Unfortunately they launched an investigation and found I had once said “shit” when a ball hit me in the shin. They came to the conclusion that this was not only pardonable, but understandable. They talked me into coming back.

I carefully kept the batting averages of all the kids. After a few more lopsided wins, I noticed that our poorest hitter was hitting better than Stan Musial did in his career. Not by much, .333 to .331, but it was enough to make me proud. (For those who might not know, Stan Musial was one of the greatest hitters in baseball history. He was usually called simply, “Stan the Man.”). I printed out the averages of all the kids, including Stan Musial at the bottom, and passed the list to all the parents.

I don’t think any of them had any idea what it meant. They looked at them as if they were test grades from school. One hysterical mother phoned me to tell me her kid had been crying all day because of where he placed on the list. (This kid was hitting over .500! There were no errors in that league. Getting on base by batted ball was a hit.)

My team parents went to league headquarters and got a rule passed that no batting average would EVER be printed, mentioned, or referred to in any way. That was the perfect time for me to resign. I was replaced by another parent who immediately made his incompetent kid the shortstop. The team went on to lose two games after that during the rest of the season. I don’t think they would have lost any had I remained in charge. But I don’t take a lot of pride in that because I had been handed, in the luck of the draw, three stars and six decent players at the beginning of the season. That would be a good team at any level of baseball.

What I did take tremendous pride in was bringing our three lousy players to the point where they helped the team considerably. To see those three nerdy little guys accepted and sometimes celebrated by their teammates made me more happy than I can express.

That was my point in showing everyone how good they were hitting. It was really a brag on my accomplishment.


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