When I was a boy, the only sport that I enjoyed playing was baseball.
My dad tells the story that when I played soccer, all of the other boys were asking to go into the game.
I kept asking when could I head back to the bench.
Too much running.
Baseball has a rhythm, a flow and the potential for something amazing to happen with each crack of the bat.
Also, you could take a break in between plays and innings.
During grade school, our coaches were mostly dads called into service.
But I remember in eighth grade, my friend Paul’s older brother Steve and his pal Mitch somehow became our coaches.
I think Steve was a Marine.
But if he was not, I remember he was built like one.
Mitch and Steve liked to make us run hills.
And laps around the bases.
Lots of running.
I didn’t like this easier.
They yelled a lot.
I think I was scared of Mitch and Steve.
This is one way to coach (see Bobby Knight).
Fast forward to me as the adult.
Me as the coach.
Funny that the perennial right fielder became his sons’ baseball coach.
I started coaching when Ismail was 4 and in t-ball.
This will be the first year in over a decade that I will be without a team to coach.
Hard to believe.
The start of this season will be bittersweet for sure.
Watching from the stands is just not the same.
Most of my coaching was in the Webster Groves Baseball Softball League.
The League is organized by its tireless booster, my buddy, Jerry Pinkner.
Under Jerry’s leadership, the League has expanded exponentially.
Anyway, no more dusty tennis shoes, mini-blowups with teenage umpires, turning off the field lights at Memorial after a long doubleheader or frozen yogurt after the games.
When I was coaching, I thought about nothing else.
No work worries, nothing.
I will miss it tremendously.
The boys and I have toyed with the idea of putting a softball team together for Noor Noor and for us to be the coaches.
We will see.
For now, I will enjoy this break.
And be glad that my players were not scared of me like I was scared of Mitch and Steve.
I think we worked hard to build them up and bring out their best.
I certainly hope so.
In the end, I will miss all of it.