Dear readers, I want to share a speech given in 1996 by a retired baseball coach at the annual ABCA coaches’ convention in Nashville. The speaker, John Scolinos, was well respected by his peers, having posted over a thousand wins during a career at Pepperdine and Cal State Poly, with three national championships to his credit. The 4,000coaches present represented all the baseball age groups, and all eagerly awaited the speech they felt would give them some invaluable tools in their coaching endeavors.
A standing ovation greeted Coach Scolinos as he shuffled on stage. Much to the consternation of his audience, he was wearing something strange on a string around his neck…. It was a regulation Home Plate! He spoke the first 25 minutes without any reference to his prop. Even those who knew him well were mystified as to the significance it represented. The mystery was soon solved.
He first addressed Little League coaches by asking them how wide home plate was at their level. After a short pause, someone replied, “ 17 inches! “
“ How about Babe Ruth coaches?” the coach asked. “How wide at your level?” The reply was quicker this time. “17 inches!”
The old coach asked the same question of coaches at every level on up to the Major Leagues, and each time the reply came back, “ 17 INCHES!!” At that point, Scolinos roared back “Correct! And what do they do with a pitcher in the majors who can’t throw the ball over these 17 inches!?” Coach answered his own question, “THEY SEND HIM TO POCATELLO!”, eliciting a chorus of laughter from the audience. “What they DON’T do,” continued Scolinos, “is say, ‘Ah, that’s ok Bobby, if you can’t hit 17”, we’ll make it 18”, or 20”, or wider still, say 25 inches.’”
The old gentleman paused a moment, then began again in a softer voice. “What do we do when our best player shows up late to practice, or violates curfew, or gets caught drinking or using drugs? Do we hold him accountable? Or do we change the rules? Do we widen home plate?”
There was absolute silence in the packed auditorium.
Coach was far from finished, as he drew a picture of a house on the snow white front of the plate. “This is the problem in our homes today with marriages and parenting. We don’t teach discipline or accountability. We don’t enforce consequences! We widen the plate!”
He went on to detail similar problems in our schools, in our churches, and in the actions of our government and our elected officials.
In conclusion, Coach Scolinos stated “If we fail to hold ourselves to a higher standard; if we are unwilling to provide a consequence when those around us don’t meet the standard; if our schools and churches and government fail to hold themselves accountable to those they serve and we do nothing, there is but one thing to look forward to…”
Coach then turned home plate around in front of his chest, showing it’s pitch black backside.
“Dark days ahead.”
Coach passed away in 2009 at the age of 91, but his message and the example he set should resonate clearly with all of us today. How often do we contact our legislators or public officials about issues that are important to our families and our fellow citizens? Are we willing to let “Somebody Else” do the heavy lifting because we are unwilling to sacrifice the time and effort it takes to make things better?
Do we allow public officials to lie to us time and again about issues critical to America, yet continue to vote for them no matter how dishonest, untrustworthy, and inefficient they have proven to be? Will we penalize political elitists who hold themselves above the law, or will we allow the destruction of the first and second amendment rights of honest citizens, making them accountable for the actions of terrorists and criminals? Please join me in praying for America to turn from the self destructive path we are currently on.
God Bless, Jeff