I decided to write a story from a personal perspective after hearing that Chris Woodward had been hired by the Texas Rangers to replace Jeff Bannister. Not because my perspective is what people want, but because my coaching career ended Saturday. It was bittersweet and got me to thinking about the job of a coach or manager in sports.
Being a major league manager can’t really compare to being a little league baseball or football coach. But I hope Woody (Woodward) has the passion I had, and loves his players like I did. Winning coaches are often revered by their former players. In a lot of situations it can be like a father/son relationship. Not only in baseball, but in all sports and at different levels.
I started my coaching career years ago, when I helped coach select baseball to kids who are now married with kids of their own. I would help various co workers who needed help coaching their own kids in rec leagues, etc. It was fun and brought back memories of all of my coaches growing up. My now deceased dad was my first coach. But I remember all my coaches from that time through high school. They were more than just coaches. In some cases they were mentors in a time I needed one. In high school my father moved to another state. My coaches filled in as male role models.
Watching Woody Monday gave me hope. A good coach commands respect, while showing a love for your players. He certainly comes across as a players manager who will not accept complacency. Woodward will lean on his staff, while he learns on the job. That’s what makes a good manager. Arrogance can kill a career these days. I don’t want a manager who thinks they have nothing to learn and will not take advice. He will also grow with a team that has some growing to do.
I also loved hearing about the tears he shed, telling Dodger players goodbye. That’s what a man who cares does. That’s what I did. I started coaching my own kids when they were in T-ball. I coached baseball and football. My youngest is a six grader who will play football for his school next year. That meant this was my last year to be a coach. Saturday we lost our playoff game and the season ended. While my son was taking off his shoulder pads I grabbed him. With a lump in my throat, I told him it was an honor to have coached him over the years. That’s when it happened. My normally reserved boy wrapped his arms around me and wept. That caused his old man to blubber like a baby. Without words, he let me know that he appreciated me being his coach all these years. THAT’S what I want for Woody. That’s what we should all want.
I can honestly say that Chris Woodward has won me over. I am excited to see who his staff is. I am excited to see who is on his first roster. I am excited for Rangers baseball to get started.
I am also excited to be a fan of my kids and not a coach…well mostly. To all the players I ever coached. I love you all and will keep my eye out for your accomplishments. Not only on a ball field, but as a person. Good coaches mold men. I hope I was able to do that.
Enough of my personal reflection and emotions. I need a beer!
Photo: Stephen Hawkins AP