By Dave Holt
I thought I had seen just about just about everything when it has to do with winning-at-all-costs youth baseball. Just when you think you’ve been seen everything something else comes in and tops it.
Recently, I had agreed to help my friend with a 12 and under travel team. I don’t recommend travel ball until kids reach 13 and over but this guy has a brand-new bunch of kids from a local Little League.
Most of the boys had never taken a lead off base or held runners on from the pitchers mound in a live game. We got our tails handed to us all weekend but we got the kids introduced to the running game and leading off and stealing.
This one team we played was from another planet. First of all, their coach was a maniac. I have seen some of obnoxious yeller’s who enjoy embarrassing kids on the field but this guy was Mr. Moon-Beam. He was all over his kids from first-inning to the last…Wow…unbelievable.
But worse than that was every kid that came up to bat laid down a bunt and I mean every kid. I recall about three kids who hit the ball on their ballclub's line-up.
This coach made the batters waggle the bat while taking a strike. If they did not walk they all bunted. Yes every single kid in the lineup tried to lay one down. Either square around and do a sacrifice or tried for a base hit by drag bunting. Of course when the runners reached base they would steal on the first pitch including home too.
I bet all those middle school and high school coaches can’t wait to get their hands on all the good bunters on this team. How many college and professional baseball scouts are signing up kids that can only lay one down? (Zero).
You know what I say, “You go as far as your bat takes you.” What a travesty to the game and a moral disservice to the kids and families of these players. But, their team was happy since they won the game 7-2. There is never a justification for winning by exploiting the players in this fashion.
That was about the lowest point I’ve seen in youth baseball as far as the win-at-all-costs philosophy proving it is alive and well and to top it off the coach was an embarrassment to baseball the way he verbally and assaulted his players.
Unfortunately this baseball coach and his player’s parents don’t realize that there is a better way to develop players. ‘Player development is the winning formula.’
After finishing his professional playing career Dave spent eleven seasons managing in the Red Sox minor league system helping to develop several major league ballplayers. After leaving the Red Sox Dave managed and recruited in the Independent Professional Baseball leagues. He has also coached collegiate wood bat and high school teams. His site,coachandplaybaseball.com is a wealth of information for baseball players and coaches of all levels.