August 16, 2017

Rambling on About My Glory Days – Ballplayers (Kids) Say the Darndest Things

March 28, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

One never knows when a ballplayer, young or old, will say something that makes your head spin, creates a comment that you don”t forget and teaches a valuable life lesson for the future. My second book was written because I believe sports provide many opportunities for parents to teach life lessons to their kids. Sometimes, these lessons appear in the most comical times. One may have to look for the lesson to be learned and taught, but it is usually there.

Getting Downright Personal
As I was sitting in the Los Angeles Dodgers dugout one day, our rather rotund batboy jogs up to home to retrieve a bat. Cincinnati Reds catcher, the great Johnny Bench, does a double-take look at the batboy, looks into our dugout and yells, “Lasorda, your son?” Laughter breaks out everywhere except from Lasorda, who appreciated the humor too but yells some unmentionables back at Bench.

Lesson learned: even in the heat of a moment, it is good to keep things in perspective and be able to laugh a little.

Baseball for Dummies
(This is a well-told story but I was there at the time so I will tell my similar version.) Same dugout as previous story  “man on third with two outs when a routine ground ball is hit to Mickey Hatcher at third base. Hatcher fields the ball cleanly but instead of throwing to first as would be the normal play, Hatch fires the ball home to a waiting Joe Ferguson (Dodger catcher). Joe applies the tag, three outs, and inning over. Tommy Lasorda is the first one to greet Hatcher, “Mickey, what are you doing?  Hatch just gives that sheepish smile as if to say, “Hey, it worked, what was wrong with that?” Then Lasorda turns to Ferguson and questions, “And Joe, why were you up at the plate ready for the ball?” Ferguson answered with his famous line, “When you play with dummies, you have to think like one.”

Lesson learned – always good to be quick on ones feet; and with one’s thoughts, as Joe was.

Baseball is a Tough Game – Actually, it is Downright Moralizing
After returning to our dugout after having a tough luck at bat our teammate blurts out, “That’s moralizing,” What was that?” someone asks, ” that’s moralizing” is repeated. This was long before  Steven Colbert came along making up new words. We got the point and a good laugh.

Lesson learned: things do not always go your way but one should not get too down or “moralized.”

Of course, you do not have to be famous to come up with a memorable line. Kids sometimes say and do the darndest things.

Stealing is Wrong
At baseball camp one day, where mind you, attendees are not always up on the finer details of the game, I remind the defense, “Do not let the runner steal second base.” There goes the runner on the next pitch. Going to be a play at second base, but wait a minute, the second baseman tackles the runner attempting to steal. Quick enough to avoid a fight on the field, I yell to the tackler in a harsh tone, “What are you doing?” “But coach, he was stealing,” was his response.

Lesson learned – Be careful of how you say things because kids may take you literally and as we all know – stealing is wrong.

Honesty to Die For
A local youth baseball team that I am affiliated with decided to institute a little prayer session. One day the coach asks the players, “OK, what are we going to pray for?” A player raises his hand and the coach thinks this must be serious because he did not just yell it out. “Coach, can we pray for me?” Sure, what’s up?” the coach responds. “Coach I need prayers because I couldn’t hit water if I fell out of a boat.”

Lesson learned: honesty is the best policy, with a sense of humor of course.

Former major leaguer Jack Perconte is the author of The Making of a Hitter(http://jackperconte.com) and has a baseball instruction blog that can be found at www.baseballcoachingtips.net. He has recently published his second book Raising an Athlete:How to Instill Confidence, Build Skills and Inspire a Love of Sport

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