Today I will say goodbye to an old friend, a friend to whom I am and will be eternally linked through a love for the game that is played with one of these,
One of these…..
and nine of these.
And when a love that deep pours out on to a baseball field, any baseball field, it touches every baseball field.
I first met Terry, in the spring of 1994 coaching Little League baseball at the Chuck Reiter Complex in Venice Florida. He had already been coaching for decades. It was my first year as a manager and I had for a lack of a better term, an “over exuberant mommy”. Mommy was absolutely convinced that her little Stevie’s fast track to the major leagues was being derailed by my stupidity and ineptitude; and she had no problem telling anyone and everyone the details of my stupidity and ineptitude.
It was after a practice and I was leaning on the fence watching another team go through the rigors of their drills. I was thinking about what I had gotten myself into and was considering chucking it all when Terry walked up to me, extended his hand and introduced himself. He made reference to the “loo-loo” I had and encouraged me not to let her craziness deter me. “You know what you are doing” he said “and I’ll tell ya, one of them comes along every ten years…..You get through her you can get through anything.” We chatted for a while and I left the field buoyed and regenerated and his words were true. For in all my years of coaching, I have never encountered a situation I felt was beyond me.
For six years we coached together, we battled, we fought, we argued, we won, we lost, we laughed and we endured. There is a brotherhood that comes from “surviving” Little League managing and Terry survived longer than any of us. For over three decades he showed up every spring, every summer, evey fall and was always willing to work with the kid who wanted more.
I asked some friends to describe Terry and the words I heard were humorous, and he was always with a joke. Passionate, when it came to teaching baseball, nobody’s passion burned deeper. Indelible, for noone left his sphere of influence without an idellible mark upon their young lives. Nuts, he was that, nuts about baseball. Tough, in an age when we as a culture are softening at an alarming rate, Terry had the courage to toughen a kid, at times to the chagrin of the “Mommy Ballers”. Committed, far above and beyond, to his kids, to the community and to the program!
Today I will say goodbye to an old friend, the Venice Little League will never be the same and Terry will be missed. But wherever kids play baseball, wherever there is the sound of the ball meeting the bat and the pop of the ball hitting the leather of the glove, Terry will be there.
Goodbye old friend and may the angels wrap their arms around you before the devil even knows you’ve left.
And so it is on this day in Fenway Park history, February 1, 2012.