The in­tri­ca­cies and nu­ances of ef­fec­tively coach­ing first base

North Penn Life - - ACCENT - Clap and says things like

For the most part, I have avoided coach­ing youth sports. Some of it has to do with the fact that my kids were singers, dancers and the­ater types in their youth. And some of it is be­cause I just don’t have much pa­tience for 15-year-old knuck­le­headed base­ball play­ers, many of wKRP FDn’W find WKHLU KLnd HndV with both hands.

I know this be­cause — as has been men­tioned re­peat­edly over the years in this space — I used to be a 15-year-old knuck­le­headed base­ball player Dnd , dLdn’W find PLnH un­til sev­eral years later. And yes, I did have to use both hands.

So it was with a good bit of trep­i­da­tion that I agreed to leave the com­fort of my lawn chair — which had been strate­gi­cally placed un­der a shade tree to take ad­van­tage of a cool breeze and what I thought was go­ing to be a peace­ful nap — to be pressed into ser­vice in the hot sun as the fiUVW-EDVH FRDFK IRU 6Rn RI BORndH Ac­coun­tant’s town­ship base­ball game last week­end. None of the other dads were avail­able and Son RI BORndH $FFRunWDnW JUDFLRuVOy vol­un­teered my ser­vices to the ball­club be­cause he knew how much I would en­joy the op­por­tunLWy WR FRDFK fiUVW UDWKHU WKDn WDNH a nap.

I am not un­fa­mil­iar with the role RI WKH fiUVW-EDVH FRDFK. $V D OLIH­long player and fan, I know what WKH fiUVW-EDVH FRDFK LV VuSSRVHd WR do and when he is sup­posed to do it. I guess that makes me a can­di­date for the job.

$nd wKDW WKH fiUVW-EDVH does is thisW very lit­tle. That coach is just above the guy who makes the snow cones at the snack stand in terms of his use­ful­ness to the team. And EHFDuVH RI WKDW, WKH fiUVWbase coach has to jus­tify KLV SODFH Rn WKDW fiHOd. One can’t just walk out there and stand in the fiUVW-EDVH FRDFKLnJ ERx Dnd dR noth­ing. One has to do some­thing. And this in­cludes, but is not limited to, the fol­low­ingW (1) Clap. (2) Tell the play­ers to run KDUd WR fiUVW EDVH. (3) Clap some more. (4) Tell the play­ers to run hard to sec­ond base.

(5) “Atta boy!” and “Lotta hop!” (6) Scratch. (7) Spit. (8) Point out to the young men that their hind ends are lo­cated around their back­side — about two feet be­low their shoul­ders — Dnd FRDFK WKHP Rn WKH finHU SRLnWV of us­ing both hands to lo­cate it.

(9) (xSODLn WKDW wKHn Uun­ning the bases, ev­ery time you get to a lit­tle white pil­low on the ground, turn left. No, your other left.

(10) Chit-chat with the um­pires be­tween in­nings.

De­spite be­ing caught up in the HxFLWHPHnW RI D FORVH JDPH, , wDV able to add what I thought was an in­no­va­tive new and im­por­tant duty WR WKH OLVW RI WKLnJV D fiUVW-EDVH coach can con­trib­ute to the gameW As I lum­bered out to my po­si­tion be­tween in­nings, I tipped my cap and took a lit­tle bow to­ward The BORndH $FFRunWDnW, wKR ORRNHd to be quite com­fort­able in my lawn chair un­der my shade tree tak­ing my nap.

7KDW’V wKDW fiUVW-EDVH FRDFKHV try to do, con­trib­ute in any way that they can.

I did en­joy chit-chat­ting with the uPSLUHV EHWwHHn Ln­nLnJV. ,W’V dLIfi- FuOW WR find JRRd uPSLUHV IRU yRuWK base­ball games be­cause there isn’t much ap­peal to stand­ing out in the hot sun for a few hours and get­ting griped at for the mea­ger pay­checks — if they get paid at all — that many of them are get­ting. Th­ese guys have to love the game and work­ing with the teenagers, and I have a tremen­dous amount of re­spect for them for do­ing it.

It was easy to tell who the um­pires were in this game. In ad­di­tion to the fact that they wore blue shirts, the base umpire had a big belt buckle on that read “Ump,” just in case I got con­fused and for­got who was the real boss in charge of the lit­tle shindig. Hey, an­other valu­able at­triEuWH IRU D fiUVW-EDVH FRDFK WR KDvH is to be able to de­ter­mine that the guy yelling dur­ing the game and wear­ing the blue shirt and the “Ump” belt buckle is in­deed the ump.

The game was a tight af­fair. Our team loaded the bases on two oc­ca­sions with no­body out, but failed to push across any runs. I was cerWDLnOy dRLnJ D finH jRE RI VSLWWLnJ Dnd VFUDWFKLnJ dRwn Ln WKH fiUVWEDVH FRDFKLnJ ERx duULnJ WKRVH in­nings. No dis­re­spect to our third­base coach — the dads who volun- teer to coach youth teams also hold a spe­cial place in my heart — but had I been asked to coach third base with those valu­able at­tributes, our team cer­tainly would have scored a few more runs. One can never place too high of an im­por­tance on those high-qual­ity spit­ting and scratch­ing skills as they re­late to run pro­duc­tion.

Alas, af­ter all the clap­ping, point­ing to­ward sec­ond base, talk­ing to the um­pires and tip­ping Py FDS WR 7KH BORndH $FFRun­tant that I did, it wasn’t enough and our team fell short, los­ing the ball­game 7-6.

De­spite my best ef­forts, I feel I some­how let down the team. The RnOy WKLnJ IRU PH WR dR WKH nHxW time I’m asked to help the ball­club is to do what I do bestW stay in my chair in the shade.

And take a nap. Any­thing to help the team.

Mike Morsch is ex­ec­u­tive edi­tor of Mont­gomery Me­dia and author of the book, “Danc­ing in My Un­der­wear: The Sound­track of My Life.” He can be reached by call­ing 215-542-0200, ext. 415 or by email at msquared35@ya­hoo.com. This col­umn can also be found at www.mont­gomerynews.com.

Outta Leftfield Mike Morsch

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