From Diary of a Mad Baseball Coach: The Tale of Two Home Runs During the 1977 season, my first at Magnolia Academy, I put on a suicide squeeze play. Everybody used to do that a lot back in those days. Now there are fewer bunts all together and most squeeze plays are safety squeezes where the runner is not caught in a rundown when the batter misses the bunt and there is not so much “pressure” on the youngsters. Richard Kelly was the bunter and Ricky Chisolm was the baserunner at third. Chisolm broke for the plate just as he was supposed to and Richard promptly missed the bunt; just bunted right through it. As luck would have it, Chisolm scored anyway, but I proceeded to start chewing on poor Richard, calling him every name in the book for missing the bunt, talking loud and trying to make a valid point. I was just a tad bit cocky in my younger days as a coach. In fact, I was so obnoxious that I was given the nickname “Little Hitler” by one of the dads, Gerald Gelston. But give me a break, I learned it from Moose Perry and he learned it from D.M. Howie. On the very next pitch, Richard hit a towering home run to right field, a pretty impressive shot I might add. As he rounded the bases, I noticed that he was a little hesitant about coming to third base where I was coaching the bases. After he rounded third, I shook his hand and said to him, “Now that’s the way to tell me to ‘kiss your [email protected]#!’” Most would think it. Some would really say it. But in the end, that bomb was the perfect way to say it without having to pay for it. Most kids today would be still crying or in therapy or would have quit and their parents would be in the principal’s (or headmaster’s) or ADs office filing a complaint, calling for my dismissal for destroying the self-esteem of their precious child. That has happened a few time over the years at Hinds, at Pearl, at Hillcrest, but not at Magnolia Academy where kids were tough-minded and their parents demanded it. Self-esteem and toughness was a personal issue and not a family affair. Then during our record setting 40 win season in 1981, Jeff McClaskey (of Northwest Rankin fame) did the exact same thing. And he got chewed out, too, but this time the runner got tagged out. He also hit a home run on the very next pitch. It, too was pretty impressive. But Flap was just a little more cocky (to put it nicely) than Richard was, and as he rounded third base, he had that look on his face and the body language that was really telling me to “kiss his [email protected]#!” and it was there for all to see. And because of that, I didn’t shake his hand when he went by. So he got his glove and cap and strutted out to his position in center field, but when he got there, somebody had already taken his place. As he made that embarrassing return to the dugout, he said, “But I hit a home run” and I replied, “I didn’t want a home run, I wanted a bunt” and went on with my business. Sports psychology at its finest before it was even invented. I’m sure he understands now after he has coached for 25 years and seen that look a few times himself. Fun times! I have always wondered what happened to those mentally tough kids.
Posted on: Sat, 22 Mar 2014 13:57:21 +0000
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