Youth Baseball: A Team of Orphans

For 42 of my 51 years of life on this earth, I have played, coached, or been involved with the game of baseball.

During those 42 years, I’ve had some of the most memorable moments of my life.  The hot summer days, the chilly spring nights, good games and bad – all have been woven together in a rich fabric of moments and relationships that were part of the game of baseball.

As a player, coach, or parent, there have been times in that span of years that I’m not proud of.  I’ve demanded a bit too much, yelled a bit too much, and acted like an idiot more times than I can count.  Yet, the memories that stand out the most for me – the ones I cherish – are the irreplaceable hours of time spent together with my dad and with my sons.  I’ve learned as much about life as the game of baseball.

Yesterday, I received an email from a friend with a link to a story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about baseball.  Specifically, youth competitive baseball.  The article tells the story of St. Louis Cardinals head coach Mike Matheny and his ‘manifesto’ regarding youth competitive baseball.  It’s an approach to coaching baseball that applies to every level of the game – from youth to the professional level.

Derrick Goold, who writes the article, quotes from Matheny’s manifesto, saying:

I always said that the only team that I would coach would be a team of orphans. … The biggest problem with youth sports has been the parents. I think that it is best to nip this in the bud right off the bat. I think the concept that I am asking all of you to grab is that this experience is ALL about the boys. If there is anything about it that includes you, we need to make a change of plans.

You can read Goold’s article here.  And, you can read Matheny’s manifesto here.

Matheny’s approach should be emulated by everyone who coaches youth sports, be it soccer, football, basketball, softball or baseball.  For one simple reason – it’s all about the kids.  It’s about their character, service, and integrity.  Because, when their done being kids, they go on to be adults – adults who have been influenced and molded and shaped positively or negatively by a coach of some sort.

With that being said, coaches have an incredible opportunity and an awesome responsibility to impact the kids who play for them.  And, as parents, we have the responsibility to trust those who coach.

It’s a manifesto that needs to be heard – by everyone.


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