Every Coach’s Dream, A True Story about Dixie Youth Baseball in Three Small Towns, by Harold A Brown

Chapter 13: League Game Ten – College Grove

Life is about how we handle imperfections.

The Red team will travel to College Grove for game ten. Rocket could legally pitch again on Monday but Coach just didn’t feel that it was fair to him. The others pitchers would have the opportunity to show their stuff.

Rest didn’t seem important for Mike House. He used fourteen pitches to strike out Lajuane, Marty and Teddy.

Marty went to the mound for his team. Terry Bennett had shuffled his batting order. Keith was still batting at the top of the order and drew a walk. Holt struck out and Mike singled to right center and scored Keith. Lakeith hit a fielder’s choice to Lajuane who stepped on second to force Mike out. Martin walked and Williams singled to score Lakeith. Toby, who had been moved down in the order popped up to Rocked at second for the last out.

Darrell hit a fly ball to center that was caught by Holt and Owen got on base with a single. Rocket had a fielder’s choice that forced Owen out at second. Jimmy was another casualty of Mike’s curve ball for the last out of the inning.

Jimmy took possession of the pitcher’s mound and Marty took Rockets place at second while he went to third. Jimmy faced four batters, striking out three and walked one.

This would be Mike’s third and last inning. He was doing an excellent job on the mound. Derek would lead off with a pop to first and Frank would do the same. Lajuane would walk and Marty would strike out. The Red team just couldn’t hit his curve.Coach wanted a repeat of Jimmy’s last inning. They were still in this ball game.

Jimmy must have been thinking about the soft drink and hamburger he was going to have after the game because he certainly wasn’t thinking about the game. He faced seven batters before Coach pulled him in favor of Darrell. Mike would double, no surprise, he was hitting everything. Lakeith would walk on four pitches. Williams would single to score Mike and Lakeith. Jimmy walked the next two batters and struck out Harris on five pitches. At this point Coach had Jimmy swap places with Darrell so he could pitch to Keith, the lead off batter. Darrell got him to pop up to Jimmy at first to end the inning.

They were still in the game despite the lack of concentration by some. The Red team cut the College Grove lead in half in the fourth. They were within striking distance. Teddy struck out to start the inning. Darrell walked as did Owen. Darrell stole two bases and Owen stole one. Rocket walked. Darrell stole home and Owen stole third and scored on a passed ball. Jimmy walked and stole second. Rocket was thrown out trying to steal third. Derek struck out, putting his team back on defense.

Holt flied out to third and Mike had a rare strike out. Lakeith singled to center and Martin walked. Williams single and brought in Lakeith and Martin. They had gotten back the two runs just scored by the Red team.

Toby and Hazelwood walked then Harris struck out. Frank started the fifth with a grounder to short and was thrown out at first. Coach was glad to see him hit the ball even if it was a someone. Lajuane walked and Marty and Teddy struck out.

Darrell struck the first two batter out to start the bottom of the fifth. Mike singled and Lakeith triple to score Mike. Martin grounded to short and Lajuane threw to first for the third out. The Red team needed five runs to extend the game.

Remember, Lakeith did most everything well in sports but his control on the mound could be erratic. He was still on the mound and the Red team had a chance. Darrell struck out and the odds went down. Owen, Rocket and Jimmy walked to load the bases. The odds just went up. Derek single to score Owen and Rocket. Frank single to score Jimmy and Derek. The Red team was feeling good about the way things were headed. Lajuane walked. The two strongest bats were up with two base runners on and they only needed one of them to score for the tie. Marty struck out for the fourth time in the game. Teddy, the number three man in the order, also struck out for the fourth time in this game.

It was over. The Red team had lost two games to College Grove by one run. The accepted rule is that if you win by one the coach gets the credit. Logic would tell you that if you lose by one run the coach gets credit for the loss. Coach was willing to accept full responsibility for the results.

Life is about how we handle imperfections.

Nolensville Red 6, College Grove 7

In the Year 2017

January 1, 2018

I don’t do New Year resolutions. Not anymore. I make decisions, and those are best made and kept to when the spirit moves you.

I do however find virtue in reflection and expressing gratitude. Here it goes.

The year started out on work leave with Hanna Elaine, born October 21, 2016. With Linda on point with the baby, Henrik and I had lots of bonding time. Threenager moments are a real thing but my memories will gloss over those.

Work was a whirlwind. Third new boss and big boss in about as many years. A progression at work and an upcoming move from our home of 12 years in Maricopa (Phoenix), Arizona to Charlotte, North Carolina. Equal parts terrifying and exciting. Career-wise it is the answer to my question of “so what’s next”.

There were a few trips with one kid or the other to the emergency room. Terrifying in the moment, and for some time after, but someday to be looked back on in pure thanks, the kids survived. Two new food allergies for Henrik, and a very sad heart wrenching delay in visiting Grandparents and family in Sweden while we confirmed Henrik is safe to fly.

Published my Dad’s book and shared it here. Planning a team reunion, hopefully in 2018. Thanks Dad.

Mom visited and we met Chris for the first time. No wonder Mom is so happy! Crystelle and Sol also visited and met Hanna. Family!

Joanie and Meghan visited for Halloween. Great visit! Nobody does a holiday like the Cicchi’s. Oh yeah, we were over at their place in California for Easter too. Did I mention the Cicchi kids are amazing human beings?

Henrik discovered a love for team sports, playing and practicing tee ball, and solo sport riding his new big boy bicycle. Hanna is learning more and more new words each day and on the verge of walking by herself. Both kids are learning so much so fast.

Thank you to my Crossfit Maricopa family for being awesome all year. Scott and Kelly Bradley and their entire coaching staff are legit.

Change scientifically speaking is a natural law. Therefore by law, and by the seat of our pants into 2018 we go!

Owen, Linda, Henrik and Hanna

Every Coach’s Dream, A True Story about Dixie Youth Baseball in Three Small Towns, by Harold A Brown

Chapter 12: League Game Nine – College Grove

Things that matter the most should not be placed at the mercy of things that matter the least.

Game nine was against College Grove again and the Red team wanted a win. Rocket was their best chance for a victory.

Keith Bennett lead off for College Grove. Rocket struck him out. Keeping that lead batter off base is an important step toward victory.

Toby Pace had been a critical ingredient for the success of this team. He played excellent defense at shortstop and his bat had worked hard for Coach Bennett. He was patient enough at the plate to draw a walk from Rocket. Mike House popped up to Darrell at first. Lakeith Vaughn hit a double to right center and brought in Toby. J.D. Martin struck out finishing their at bat.

Mike would walk Lajuane and Marty would single. Teddy walked to load the bases. Darrell and Owen were strikeout victims. Rocket walked to bring in Lajuane and leave the bases loaded. Jimmy would double in Marty and Teddy, keeping two runners on base. Derek was aggressive at the plate and struck out on three pitches.

Rocket faced five batters in the second, walking two and striking out three. Keith was the third out and left the two walks on base.

Frank led off the second with a strike out. Lajuane and Marty walked and Teddy a Darrell both struck out.

Rocket hit Mike with the first pitch in the third. Coach was sure that it hurt. Lakeith made Rocket suffer for his mistake by hitting another double to right center again and scoring Mike from first. Owen threw Lakeith out when he tired to steal third base. J.D. Martin would strike out again.

Owen struck out to start the bottom of the third. Rocket and Jimmy walked and waited for Derek to single in Rocket. Frank made his bat do the talking and doubled in Jimmy and Derek. Lajuane and Marty walked again and Teddy and Darrell struck out again.

Rocket faced four batters at the top of the fourth. He gave up one walk and struck out the next three. He was winning the battle of keeping the bottom of College Grove’s order off the bases.

Mike finished his work on the mound and Lakeith took his place. He walked the first two batters and struck out the next three. Brad Alexander made the last out, taking Frank’s place in the order.

Rocket was going to face the top of College Grove’s order again in the fifth. He was kind enough to let his defense do the work for him. Keith popped up to Jimmy at third. He walked Toby for the second time in the game. Mike hit a grounder back to the Rocket and he threw him out at first. Toby was caught at third when Darrell threw to Jimmy for the assist and the third out.

The Red team was back to the top of their order. Lajuane and Marty both drew walks from Lakeith. When he was bad he was really bad. The last out was a strikeout on three pitches by Teddy. When he was good he was really good.

He walked the next three and they drove in Lajuane and Marty. Jimmy and Derek both struck out. Should more be said? Time was out and the game was called. Victory leaves a sweet taste in your mouth.

Things that matter the most should not be placed at the mercy of things that matter the least.

College Grove 2, Nolensville Red 8

Every Coach’s Dream, A True Story about Dixie Youth Baseball in Three Small Towns, by Harold A Brown

Chapter 11: League Game Eight – Nolensville Blue

Understand the past, Respect the future.

Nunn Arledge and his family were on vacation which implied that Nolensville Blue had a slim chance of victory against Nolensville Red in game eight. It was a Friday night game in Nolensville and lots of people would show up for the excitement under the lights. The Red team was the visiting team on this night.

Alex Lankford had a problem following directions. Alex had ignored a three and zero take sign last Monday night against Rockvale. When Coach asked him if he understood the signal he indicated that he, in fact, did understand, but didn’t want to take the pitch. At least he was honest. Coach had immediately taken him out and sent Derek in to finish his at bat. There can only be one head coach. Alex was upset and his father was not happy.

Brothers: Several years later his younger brother wanted to play on Coach’s team. His father had some reservations about letting him play. Coach couldn’t imagine two children being so different. Coach made it very clear to Mr. Lankford that one incident didn’t effect the other. Shawn was a very coachable player. He wanted to play and he wanted to learn. His father saw the truth of the situation and Shawn made the all-star team at the end of the year.

Alex quit the team. That left us with ten team members. On this particular night Brad Alexander’s family was out of town. All you need to play is nine players and The Blue team also had nine. Game on.

Lajuane would bat first as he did all season. His batting average was .312 but it would not finish this high. He finished the season with a .231 average but he led the team with walks. Jimmy asked Coach one day why Coach let Lajuane bat in that position. Jimmy could have been feeling some frustration about batting lower in the lineup. Coach thought for a minute and responded to Jimmy’s question with a question. “Where would you place him in the order?” His response was a quick, “last.” A moment of silence was followed by another evaluation by Jimmy. “You are correct Coach, there isn’t much difference.” In defense of Lajuane, his on base percentage was extremely high. Lajuane made the all-star team based on his play at shortstop. He hit in the nine spot during the all-star tournament.

Benjamin Holt would be the starting pitcher for Bobby Stephenson’s Blue team. The first batter he faced was Lajuane and of course he walked.

Benjamin Holt: Years later Coach was having dinner in a South Nashville restaurant when Benjamin Holt came to the table to introduce himself. He was tall and handsome. No longer the small boy that had worked so hard on the baseball field dispite his size.

Marty hit a double to left field leaving runners on second and third. Coach was sure that Teddy was unhappy about letting Benjamin strike him out on three pitches. Darrell was having none of that and singled to left field. Lajuane scored from third and Marty moved over to take Lajuane’s place.

Owen singled to center field and scored Marty. Rocket walked and Jimmy put his single in right field scoring Darrell. Derek brought Owen and Rocket in with the double that he hit to center left. Frank drew a walk and Lajuane, on his second trip to the plate in the first, struck out.

Marty popped up to the third baseman, Boyd, for the third out. Benjamin gave up five runs on five hits and left three runners on the bases.

Darrell was on the mound again for the Red team. Good batters didn’t have to wait long for a pitch around the strikezone. Brian Cummings hit the first pitch back to Darrell and he threw him out at first.

Boyd hit his first pitch into a hole in the outfield for a double. Chris Wence, Bobby’s best hitter walked. Adam Cook struck out.

Adam Cook: Coach believed that Adam put himself under a lot of pressure to hit the ball. He was a solid twelve year old with strength to spare. Coach discovered, two years later, that when placed with other big strong boys Adam didn’t put that pressure on himself and hit the ball as well as anyone.

Michael Howell struck out leaving two runners on base. As the old saying goes, Michael might have been “as useless as tits on a bore hog” when it came to baseball. Coach never saw a kid that tried less on the baseball field. Coach would have loved having Michael’s younger sister on the team. Michael went into the military. He looked great in his uniform when he came home for visits.

Teddy singled to start the top of the second. Darrell hit to center field and Adam Cook made a nice catch for out number one.

Owen hit to right center for a single. Rocket hit a double to left center and scored both runners on base. Jimmy hit to Chris at short stop and he turned it into an out by throwing to Michael Howell at first for the second out.

Derek struck out on three pitches. One thing was for sure, Derek was not afraid to go after the pitch. He never changed. He saw it and went after the prize.

Sam Mosley, the catcher, was first up in the bottom of the second. Sam walked on five pitches. After the second pitch to Holt, Owen threw the ball back to Darrell who threw to Lajuane, covering second, he made the tag for the first out. It was not like Darrell but he walked the first three batters he faced in that inning.

With two players on base, Darrell proceeded to strike out the next two batters he faced. How do you define winner? Start with Darrell.

Frank Ogilvie walked to start the third inning. Lajuane popped up to first. Marty got a single up the middle. Teddy got his second base hit of the game and Darrell flied out to Adam in center field.

Owen got a double when he drove the ball into right center field and scored Frank and Marty. Rocket popped up to the first baseman for the final out.

The Blue team was behind nine to zero when their third baseman, Boyd, came to the plate at the bottom of the third. He hit a liner back to Darrell for their first out.

Chris flied out to Teddy in center field. Then Darrell walked Adam on six pitches.
Michael struck out for the second time in a row. The third inning was in the book.

The top of the fourth would prove to be a disaster for the Blue team. Benjamin was wearing down. The Red team sent fourteen players to the plate. They scored eight runs on six hits combined with five walks. Benjamin did strike out two of the Nolensville Red batters.

Darrell would came back out to finish the fourth. He didn’t give up any runs on one hit, had two strikeouts and only one walk. Bobby put Brian Cummings on the mound to pitch the fifth. He got off to a good start by striking Teddy out on three very slow pitches.

Darrell and Owen both got doubles and scored in the inning. Rocket walked and was thrown out trying to stealing second. Jimmy singled and took second on a wild pitch while Derek was in the process of striking out. Lajuane drew his usual walk and Marty popped up to end the Red team’s time at bat. In retrospect Darrell should have traded places with Jimmy. With such a large lead Coach should have made a pitching change, but he didn’t. The first four inning had not been overwhelming for Darrell but the fifth would prove to be a challenge for such a small player.

The first two batters had base hits but the lead runner was thrown out trying to steal third. Darrell walked the next three batters pushing a run across the plate. He struck out the next batter and walked one more batter, scorning a second run. Coach could see Darrell bow his back as he proceeded to strike out the number nine batter on four pitches. It was late and everyone was tired. There was just enough time for a soft drink and maybe a hot dog from the concession stand.

See you Monday boys. Remember, your team plays College Grove at your field.

Understand the past, Respect the future.

Nolensville Red nineteen, Nolensville Blue two.

Every Coach’s Dream, A True Story about Dixie Youth Baseball in Three Small Towns, by Harold A Brown

Chapter 10: League Game Seven – Rockvale

Always get even with those that help you.

Game seven would be Rockvale again, the only difference was location and Monday instead of Friday. Coach would start Rocket. That would make his defense stronger not to mention Rocket’s strength on the mound. Rockvale’s strength was their first four batters. He just needed to throw strikes to the bottom five.

Rocket: Tim “Rocket” Ridley was a delight to be around. He had a difficult existence but he made the most of it. The adults enjoyed him and his teammates cared even more. His Uncle Frank had taken him in along with his siblings. Few people would take on such a responsibility. The Ogilvie family was very special. Rocket’s mother was able to attend some of his games and was always very congenial. During the time that Coach had contact with Rocket he lived with at least three different family members. He never lost his love for others.

Rocket took the mound with a vengeance. He struck out three of the first four batters he faced in the top of the first inning and gave up a single to the second hitter.

Chris Burns would be pitching for his father. His start was not as strong as Rocket’s but the results were the same. No runs were scored in the first inning. Chris left two runners on while getting one strikeout with two base hits. Teddy was moved up to the three spot and rewarded Coach with a double.

Rocket did more of the same in the second. He faced three batters, striking out two and relying on his defence for one more out.

Chris faced eight batters in the bottom of the second. He gave up two runs and left three runners standing on their base. His two strikeout were timely.

Rocket lost his concentration. He only walked one batter but that was the first one he faced in that inning. When he got to the top of their batting order he gave up three hits to their top four hitters. He did have two strikeouts in the inning but gave up three runs. That was the first time that Rockvale had taken the lead against the Red team.

Owen led off the bottom of the third. Chris hit him with the first pitch. Ouch! Rocket hit into a fielders choice and Owen was thrown out at second. Rocket stole two bases and home to tie the ball game. Chris walked the next five batters before his father replace him with Paul Burns. Paul’s defense let him down when they committed an error and Teddy was allowed on base. His control was not great but he did get a big strikeout when he struck out Jimmy for the third out. The Red team scored seven runs and sent twelve batters to the plate. It would be hard for Rockvale to overcome that score.

Darrell would get two unassisted outs on first and Rocket would strike out one in the top of the fourth. He didn’t do his job with the bottom two batter, walking both, but he did leave them on base.

Frank and Derek both hit the ball to second and were thrown out at first. Lajuane and Marty both walked. Teddy came up with two men on and two outs. Coach was getting what he wanted, his number three hitter was up with two runners on base. Teddy hit a deep fly ball to center field. It was the first pitch that Paul threw to Teddy and he was waiting on it. Shockey made the catch that most outfielders in this age group would not have a chance in a million of making.

Rockvale entered the top of the fifth knowing that they needed six runs to tie the game. Rocket could tasted victory. He would be facing batters two, three and four, the toughest Rockvale had to offer. He struck out the first batter, walked the second. You could see him bow his back and go to work. He struck out the last two with a resolve that made Coach smile. Rocket struck out eleven batters in five innings. That went well with the four walks which represented a good day’s work. Rocket was the man. Always get even with those that help you.

Rockvale 3, Nolensville Red 9