The intricacies and nuances of effectively coaching first base
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. This column can also be found at www.montgomerynews.com.
Outta Leftfield Mike Morsch