Steve Wiley Talks Baseball, Coaching his Kids, and Little League of Their Own
Steve Wiley is Jackalope Ranch's Parent Hood. He's a slightly unorthodox father of five who will weigh in weekly with his mildly-rebellious views and observations. If you'd like to see how he came to write this column, watch the intro video. This week he ponders how an anti-authority hoodlum ends up coaching Little League for 8 years.
It came in the mail the other day -- the notice that the Little League season was kicking in again. Get your glove, your bat, and your birth certificate - it's time to play ball.
It sent me a-pondering. (I do that sort of thing.) I thought about baseball, my sons, and what long journey it had been since my first encounter with Little League almost 8 years ago.
True Baseball Fanatics
You see, in this moment you can't separate my sons from baseball. They play high school and club baseball. Really high level stuff for their ages. They work their butts off to perfect their craft. They hit each other grounders out on the street. They fill the Wileysworld calendar with weekend baseball tournaments.
When they aren't playing, they are watching MLB Network. I know, a whole network about baseball might seem excessive to the average person and even to the average baseball fan -- like "how are they gonna fill all that time during the off-season?" -- but not to these guys. They RECORD the stuff. Prime Nine. Intentional Talk. Countdown. It's on all the time.
It's awesome. Because it turns out the old man loves baseball too. And it turns out the old man is part of the team.
Irony is the Curve Ball of Life
Did I intend to be a baseball coach? Not a chance. If you've read this column, or watched the intro video, then you know I'm sort of a hoodlum. I wasn't an authority-lover in my youth either. In fact, I had more coaches that made me nuts than I had coaches that influenced me. In my experiences and observations, there's not many more professions with a higher percentage of eye-rolling, testosterone-spilling goof balls.
So coaching wasn't something I had on my adult to-do list.
However, the two coaches that did have what I still consider to be a big impact on me, Mike Littler and George Cederstrom (names included because credit is due), were both baseball coaches. They accepted me as I was, and worked to help me get better at baseball ... and life. And they helped give me the necessary confidence for baseball ... and life.
And we played some damn good baseball. We traveled. We won tourneys. And despite authoritatively-wary side of me being ever-present, the good-student side of me dominated, and I paid attention and learned. Even though my love of baseball eventually lost out to my need to work (and hang with my friends) in the summer, the entire baseball experience had left a positive imprint on me.