It’s tough being a dad and also your son’s baseball coach at the same time. I mean, the last thing I want to be is the coach from the Yankees in the old 1976 Bad News Bears movie where I get into a screaming match with my kid and he walks off the field.
There needs to be a balance, and it's pretty hard to do. Sure, you want to win the game, but at the same time, you want to make sure the kids are molded, determined, focused and believe in themselves. You have to treat all the kids, including your own, the same. We’re 1. We're a team.
But there are moments he’ll look at me in the dugout and want me to be his dad, and I do it because I’m a pretty sensitive guy. I also know though, that sometimes he is capable of so much more on the field. It breaks my heart because it’s a tricky thing to be super nurturing while also being his coach. After all, I’m his biggest fan, but as the head coach, you're not supposed to show favoritism, especially if it's your own.
I had a chat with Mike O’Hara the other day. Mike’s a BYB writer and a great one at that, and during the conversation we chatted about baseball, little league, frustrations, struggles and talent. The conversation was brief, but I wanted to share it because it puts a lot of this into perspective, especially if you are also a coach to your son or daughter. Check it out. I found it refreshing:
Mike O’Hara: How was last night?
Me: Baseball, then we went for ice cream. We won last night, but my son struggled a bit. I notice that he has no confidence lately and it makes me sad.
Mike O’Hara: I had a coach once tell me after a lousy game in Little League, ‘3 out of 10 and you’re on your way to the Hall. Stay at it and never over think it. We’re ballplayers, not astronauts.’ I always will remember that. Your kid will find his confidence. No doubt.
Mike O’Hara: Even after making all those errors in ‘A’ ball, Jeter said he had lost his confidence too. It happens to the best of them. But the great thing about baseball is the next play or at bat doesn’t remember the last. Do-overs happen every time the ball is thrown.
Me: Confidence is key. But as a parent and coach, it’s so tricky. You gotta be strong for the team, you also need to ‘feel’ for your kid. Tough few days.
Mike O’Hara: Hang in there. Sounds like you are doing all you can.
Me: I appreciate that. Just a dad who’s been there and re-living it all again I guess.
Mike O’Hara is now my therapist. I'm kidding. But the message was powerful and clear and ironically, in my son’s game last night, something happened. His fear to get on the mound again after a tough previous outing went away. And when he got into the batter’s box, he treated it like a game again, not a job. He was my old son, working the count to 2-2, then fouling off 3 before cranking it down the first base line. It was a hot shot, it was fielded and the 1st baseman stepped on the bag. He was out…
I went over to him with his bottle of water. His eyes were glowing, “Dad, did you see me battle out there?” I smiled and patted him on the shoulder. “I did, great job.”
“He’s back!” I thought. Thank God. Mike's right, it does come and go... let's hope it stays alittle longer this time.
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