It was the first year I was eligible to play Little League Baseball. My dream of playing in the Big Leagues for the St. Louis Cardinals was finally underway. I was so excited! I would be wearing an actual uniform, playing with real umpires and pitchers, even playing under the lights on some occasions. The majority of the boys in my first grade class all signed up together to be placed on the same team. What a fantastic way to start my career, I thought.
The only problem…..we had no coach. Who would want to take on the daunting task of coaching a bunch of seven-year-olds how to play the game of baseball? Some of the boys in my class were natural athletes, while a few of them couldn’t even walk and chew gum at the same time. To turn the newly formed team into a success was a near impossible task.
Fortunately, there was on individual who jumped at the opportunity to teach us how to throw, hit, and run bases. He was loving, caring, and showed a whole lot of patience. He quickly jumped at this opportunity to make a difference to a bunch of scraggly kids. That person was my Dad!
As a 7-yr-old I thought my Dad knew everything and was the coolest person ever. (Actually, he still is pretty cool today, even at the young age of 68, and still does know quite a bit!) When he told me that he was going to be the coach of my baseball team, I just about jumped through the roof. I knew I was in good hands with my professional career. I was already anticipating a roster spot to open up for me in about fifteen years with the St. Louis Cardinals.
Of course, that did not happen. The season came and went. I can’t remember a whole lot about my first season of baseball other than we lost more games than we won. But what I remember the most was the time and effort my Dad put into that team. It was not a paid position; all voluntary. He sacrificed countless hours out of his own time to teach us how to play the game of baseball. He didn’t coach us because he had to, but because he wanted to. He wanted to make us not only ballplayers, but also better individuals in life as well, even at the young age of 7 or 8. He taught us sportsmanship. He taught us teamwork. And most importantly, he taught us respect. He took time and helped each one of us individually to develop our skills. When one person failed, he never gave up until that player succeeded. He was loved by many and liked by all. He ended up coaching our team for six years. We had our ups and downs. But we also had a lot of fun!
Whenever a coaching opportunity arose during my grade school and middle school years, my Dad was also the first one to volunteer, not just for me, but also for my older sister and two younger brothers as well. Yes, he had a fulltime job, but was also a full-time father, putting his family first in life. He ended up coaching baseball, soccer, basketball, and track and field through many seasons for my siblings and me. Even today, when he runs into some of his old players, all grown-up now and in their 30’s, they still call him “Coach.”
He does not coach anymore. But he still is an inspiration and role model to many, especially me. Thank you, Dad, for being such an amazing father. You’ve been with me through all of life and have taught me so much. I strive to be like you someday. You truly are the #1 Dad in the entire world. Thank you for making a difference in my life. Happy Father’s Day! I love you!