Dec. 12, 2006
COLLEGE BASEBALL CHRISTMAS LIST...
Why should Maggie, Luke, and the rest of the world's rugrats be the only ones to make a list for Santa Claus? Just because some of us are a bit long in the tooth, doesn't mean we can't send Santa our unique Christmas requests. Coaches throughout the country share in the wide-eyed wonder of the Christmas season. Rather than visions of sugar plums, as we sleep, coaches dream of good grade reports, mid-year transfers, or healthy recovery of key players.
Here are a few requests Santa might receive this year from the world of college baseball:
Mike Fox at UNC- more pitchers like Miller and Bard
Mike Hurst at Georgia St- good health and a rewarding life after baseball
Danny Price at Florida International- a new copy of FAU's signs
Fred Hill at Rutgers- a season to surpass Schiano's
Pete Dunn at Stetson- A-Sun Commissioner Gumbart's private number
Lelo Prado at South Florida- nothing else, the new contract is enough
Mike Shephard (retired) at Seton Hall- the two wins hijacked by the NCAA while Mike was ill, leaving him at 998 for his career
Bobby Pearce at Troy- another transfer like Tom King
Ron Fraser (retired) at Miami-thanks for his contribution to college baseball, and the best of health
Steve Traylor at Wofford- a Southern Conference championship
Tony Robichaux at Louisiana Lafayette- a good season for his son Justin
Ron Polk at Mississippi St- a return to Omaha and a permanent role as a thorn in the NCAA's side
Tony Skole at East Tennessee St- three more sidewinders like Caleb Glafenheim
Eddie Lyons (retired) at Upsala- to see his grandson Mickey Storey pitch in the College World Series
Joe Walsh at Harvard- never hear an opponent say "beat these Harvard guys...some day you'll be working for them."
Rod Delmonico at Tennessee- a condo in South Beach to make recruiting easier
Paul Kosticopolous at Navy- Mitch Harris on board ship again
Augie Garrido at Texas- nothing, actually Santa asks Augie for stuff
Brian Cleary at Cincinnati- a Big East championship after starting the season 0-3 (vs FAU)
Jay Bergman at UCF- a fast growth spurt for all of last year's freshmen
Dave Jarvis at Belmont- Brad Paisley in his dugout
Pete Hughes at Virginia Tech- an updated picture on VT's website and a baby sitter for Debbie
Irish O'Reilly at Lewis University- winning his 1000th game at the DII National Championship this year
Greg Van Zant at West Virginia- Rich Rodriguez' old contract
The American Baseball Coaches Association- a reworking of the APR to reflect reality
The NCAA- further investigation of their tax exempt status
The family of the late Keith LeClair- the comfort that they have a special angel over their tree
WHO TAUGHT YOU BASEBALL?
Most images of boys learning baseball include a Dad and the little runt in the backyard playing catch or learning to hold and swing a bat nearly the size of the youngster. You can almost see Norman Rockwell and his father out there, as the daylight fades. It's not that my Dad didn't play with me, but I can hardly remember him being home from work before dark. Luckily for me, I had my older brother Pat, and his friends. They tolerated me enough to let me hang around and force my way into their games.
The other person I remember is my Mom.
She wasn't a ballplayer, but she loved the game. When I was old enough to hold a bat, she had me in the backyard learning to hit and throw. When we watched TV on our little black and white set with six channels, the summer schedule was solely Yankees' games. When I only got one hit my senior year in college, my Dad claimed it was because Mom was the one who taught me to hit.
Mom was always in the stands for either my game or Pat's. In fact, she lied about my age when I joined, so I could play on his team my first year. Three years later, she missed my biggest start on the mound- a one game playoff for the pennant against Tommy Monigan's White Sox. She was at Yankee Stadium for my brother's birthday.
Like so many Americans, baseball was the string that bound our family together.
I've been fortunate that baseball has been part of my life since those days in the `50's as a kid, and that, until recently, my Mother could share my good fortune.
Last week was the three year anniversary of her death. The hurt has eased over the years, but the empty feeling is always there. I'll think I need to call her about something, or to wish her a Merry Christmas, or whatever- then I remember she's gone.
There's a song by Phil Vassar called The Women In My Life. There are three verses, but only the last two had ever registered with me until last week. The second verse is about the woman he falls in love with and marries, the third is their daughter who has him wrapped `round his finger.
Driving home last Wednesday, the date Mom died, I finally "heard" the first verse, the part about the woman who was always there for him, in the stands rain or shine, the woman who gave him life and more.
She had been on my mind all day and definitely was the "woman in my life".