A half Century of the Red Sox and the Amateur Draft…

Yesterday the Boston Red Sox made Jason Groome their overall number one pick in the 2016 Amateur draft.

The 6’6″ left-handed pitcher from Barnegat High School in New Jersey was the 12th overall pick. His fastball sits between 90-94 and has touched 97 and he sports a “biting” curveball in the high 70s. He also has a change-up in his arsenal. The 17 year old southpaw struck out 81 batters in 35 innings of work his senior year.

Groome was Baseball America’s number one rated prospect for a number of weeks this spring. He was the 34th Red Sox first round pick to come out of high school. He is the 11th left-handed pitcher selected by the Red Sox in the first round and he is only the 8th high school player taken since the year 2000, a total of 31 picks.

Since 1965, the Red Sox have made 74 number one picks in the draft. The first one was a local kid from Swampscott High School, Billy Conigliaro. The fifth overall pick, Conigliaro was drafted behind Rick Monday (first) and ahead of Bernie Carbo (16th). In fact their were three Massachusetts High School kids drafted in the first round that year. Billy spent five years in the big leagues, making it to Boston in 1969 and he shared the outfield with big brother Tony in 1970. It was his best year, hitting .271 with 18 homers and 58 RBI.

Billy Conigliaro played three years with the Red Sox, one with the Brewers and was a member of the 1973 World Champion Oakland A’s.

Of the 74 players drafted in the first round, 29 of them have not seen a day in the major leagues, 39% of them. Now in all fairness, four of them include the last four number ones, one of whom is Andrew Benintendi, recently elevated to Portland and their number two ranked overall organizational prospect.

What does the future hold for Groome, this years number one? Obviously it remains to be seen but let’s take a look back at some of the past number ones. Some of them will ring familiar having made significant contributions and impact on the organization.

Bruce Hurst, the 1976 number one pick, had a 15 year big league career. Nine of them came in Boston where he won 88 games and nearly won the 1986 World Series MVP Award. Hurst was the Red Sox most successful southpaw taken in the top spot.

Mo Vaughn was the 1989 selection out of Seton Hall. The “Hit Dog” hit 230 homers and batted .301 in eight years with the Red Sox and was the 1995 American League MVP.

In 1993, Trot Nixon was the number one out of New Hanover High in Wilmington NC. The original “Dirt Dog”, Nixon was a popular player with the Red Sox for 10 years. He is forever endeared to Red Sox fans as the right fielder on the 2004 squad which unleashed the joy of a World Series Championship.  

The 1994 number one out of Georgia Tech came to be known simply as “Nomah.” He hit .323 in eight years in Boston. He was the American League Rookie of the Year in 1997 and won back to back batting titles in 1999 and 2000. At his peek he was one of the most popular players in franchise history.

In 2005, Jacoby Ellsbury, out of Oregon State University, was their number one pick and became a key component in winning the 2007 and 2013 World Series.  

He arrived in Boston for the last 33 games of the 2007 season and then hit .438 in the World Series helping the Sox win their second World Series in four years. In seven years in a Red Sox uniform he led the league in stolen bases including a Red Sox record 70 steals in 2009. He was an All Star in 2011, his best year as he hit .321 with 32 homers and 105 RBI, finishing second in the MVP voting to Justin Verlander, won a Gold Glove and led the league with 364 total bases. In 2014 he signed with the Yankees where he has not come close to those numbers.

Jackie Bradley Junior (right) and Blake Swihart (23) were both recent number one picks who are part of today’s Red Sox landscape. Swihart did the bulk of the catching last year and recently was contributing as a left-fielder until felled by a sprained ankle. JBJ has emerged as a star and currently is a top three receiver of votes for an outfield spot at this years all star game.


There is no doubt that the best everyday player taken number one by the Red Sox was James Edward Rice.

Jim Rice was drafted number one in 1971 out of TL Hanna High School in Anderson South Carolina.

Arriving in 1975 along with Fred Lynn, the “Gold-Dust Twins” as they came to be known, were the greatest rookie tandem in baseball history. The 1978 MVP was among the most feared hitters in the game for five seasons. In 1978 he hit .315 and led the league in hits, triples, home runs, RBI, SLG, OPS, OPS+ and WAR. He also compiled 406 total bases, the only American League player to do so since 1938.

Elected to the Hall of Fame in 2009, Rice’s number 14 joined the elite numbers on Fenway’s right field facade.

The all time number one pick to toe the slab for the Boston Red Sox is Roger Clemens.

Clemens was taken number one by the Red Sox in 1983, the 19th overall pick.

For 13 seasons “The Rocket” toiled on the Fenway mound and he made his mark as one of the Red Sox all time greats at any position. He won 192 games equaling Cy Young for most wins by a Red Sox pitcher, (you know the guy they named the award after). He won three of those awards in a Red Sox uniform. He was the first pitcher in history to punch out 20 guys in a nine inning game and he did it twice in a Red Sox uniform, once at Fenway and once in Detroit. In 1986 he became the seventh pitcher in baseball history to win an MVP and Cy Young Award in the same season. It was a bitter parting when Clemens left the Sox to sign with the Blue Jays in 1997. We all know what transpired with the accusations of PED’s which leaves Clemens today outside the doors of Cooperstown. This despite some of the greatest career numbers any pitcher has accumulated.

The icy relationship between the Fenway Faithful and Roger Clemens has thawed as the years have past and he was well received in a 1986 reunion night at Fenway in May of this year. It is interesting to note that since Roger Clemens left the Red Sox following the 1996 season, no player has worn his number 21.


Since these entered the draft equation in 1981 to compensate for players lost through free agency, some interesting picks have emerged.

  • Casey Fossum (LHP) was a pick for the loss of Greg Swindell. He made no great contribution in a Red Sox uniform but was the lynchpin in the trade for Curt Schilling.
  • Clay Bucholz was a 2005 pick for the loss of Pedro.
  • Jacoby Ellsbury was another 2005 pick for the loss of 2004 shortstop Orlando Cabrera.
  • Both Jackie Bradley Junior and Blake Swihart were picks garnered for the loss of Adrian Beltre in 2011.


  • Roger Clemens was drafted by both the New York Mets (12th round in 1981) and the Red Sox. (Imagine the Mets with Clemens and Dwight Gooden?)
  • Jim Rice’s High School TL Hanna High in Anderson SC, claims James “Radio” Kennedy, actor Chadwick Boseman (Jackie Robinson in 42) and astronaut Stephen Thorne as alum.
  • Jason Groome said the Red Sox are his favorite team.

And so it is on this day in Fenway Park History, Draft Day One, 2016.

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Musings Born of “67”…

This morning I awoke with visions of “67” dancing in my head. It happens once in awhile, the year, the magic. My son tells me I give too much reverence to baseball’s bygone days and he may, in fact, be correct; as last night I was lamenting the “state of the game” today.

I’m not a fan of interleague play, I don’t like the idea that batters put on suites of armor, hang over the plate and the pitcher can’t take back the inside part of the plate. The genie is out of the bottle and only an act of Congress, signed by the president will change that. Oh, and don’t get me started on presidents, candidates and Congress.

The new “rule” on sliding into second and breaking up a double play is, well, one more indication of the softening of America. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that guys should be trying to hurt each other, but breaking up the double play has been one of baseball’s ten commandments since Alexander Cartwright brought baseball’s stone tablets down from Mt. Elysian Fields.

Chase Utley upending Reuben Tejada.

You want to “protect” players from getting injured? How about this for a concept? If a player is determined to have deliberately “injured” a player; said player is “suspended for as long as it takes said injured player to return to the lineup. This would apply to pitchers hitting batters as well.

The immediate reaction may be “no way”, “can’t be done”, “how could you do it”, blah, blah, blah. I’m not unaware of the potential difficulties in its implementation, however would it be any more difficult than all the administrative red tape involved in todays decision making process regarding such matters?

Oh and I HATE, absolutely HATE instant replay. Strong word hate, not one I use much but very applicable here. I simply offer this; has it sped up the game? Made it more entertaining? Nope! A close play takes place, manager comes to the top step of the dugout, waits for the call from his replay people, walks out to the ump, everybody stands around while people miles and miles away watch a screen and call back. AND, very often leaves those of us watching along on TV  puzzled, and scratching our heads.

Would you rather that? Or this?

Earl Weaver and Ken Kaiser going nose to nose.

Billy being Billy.

Sweet Lou…

What’s more entertaining?

Oh and by the way, this or waiting for replay takes at least the same amount of time.

Anyway, I digress….Back to my musings.

On April 23, 1967 Boston had a most unusual day. Temperature in the 40s with thunder and lighting. Mickey Mantle had his last Fenway Park RBI. Yaz homered on his way to his Triple Crown and he and Dick Williams were both ejected. The Sox lost, but a new energy force arrived at Fenway, hailed by lightning and trumpeted by thunder. An energy force that would ignite a city, transform a franchise and the Greater Boston area would never be the same.

A lot of interesting events mark April 23rd. At Fenway, Ted Williams’ first career homer was struck on April 23rd 1939. In 1954 Hank Aaron hit his first career homer at Sportsman Park and at Ebbetts Field Jackie Robinson stole second, then third and then home leading the Dodgers to an extra inning victory. 032514-MLB-Babe-Ruth-Jackie-Robinson-Hank-Aaron-Ted-Williams-TV-Pi

Jackie, Hank and Ted.

Warren Spahn of 363 career wins (more than any other southpaw in history) and World War II combat service, was born on April 23, 1921.

Spahn was a 14 time All Star, four time NL shutout leader and nine times he led the league in complete games. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1973.



Spahn played a German soldier in a cameo appearance on the TV Show Combat in 1963. He fought at the Battle of the Bulge and was wounded as part of the force taking the Remgen Bridge.

And this guy was also born on April 23rd, a few years earlier than Mr. Spahn.

Willie also died on his birthday and something tells me that if he were alive in America today he would have written a great tragedy involving baseball.

On this day in 1989, this guy…

Nolan Ryan

passed this guy…

Walter Johnson

as the all time major league strikeout leader. A position he still holds!

I woke up this morning with visions of “67” dancing in my head. My son tells me that I give too much reverence to baseball’s bygone days and in fact he may be correct.

So I got up and went to the baseball field to practice with these guys…And to revel in the hope of their dreams…The hope of their tomorrows.


And then I went to the golf course with these guys to revel in the hope that lives over each golf shot, each swing, each putt. The hope of now.


I woke up this morning with visions of “67” dancing in my head. My son tells me that I give too much reverence to baseball’s bygone days and in fact he may be correct. Maybe it’s time to just let it go…

But damn, that song was so sweet…


So very, very sweet….

And so it is on this day…April 23rd the day someone once told me was, “the best day evah.”



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‘The Hardest Thing to do in All of Sports, Without Question, Is to Hit a Baseball.” Ted Williams

This one is for baseball coaches at every level.

I have been knocking around a baseball field with kids for the better part of three decades. They have ranged in age from five to 20, from T-Ball to high school. And there is a familiar thread that exists at EVERY LEVEL. And that is the players expectations of their success rate with a bat in their hands. We have all seen it, dealt with it and attempted to ameliorate it.

It was the early 1990s when  I was coaching in Little League and Ken Griffey Jr was the best player in the baseball. When I would ask the kids how many hits they thought he got in ten at bats, the lowest number I received as an answer was seven! SEVEN! They perceived Junior as a .700 hitter.


By the time they reach high school they realize that’s impossible (most of them) but it does not seem to translate to them that it is simply impossible.

We all have witnessed the emotional upheaval caused by that young player who does not meet expectations from either daddy, mommy, or above all themselves. This compounds the difficulty of a game that is brutally difficult to begin with.

I offer this today as a tool to bring young players to the realization to the degree of difficulty in this greatest of games. Coming to this understanding is the first step in the development of the mental toughness required to function at their best.

I have often stated that baseball is the most difficult of all the sports to play. If you doubt this, consider the following. We begin with this guy,


                                                           Tyrus Raymond Cobb

Nobody was more adept with a bat in his hands than Ty Cobb. Cobb played for 24 seasons. He was the batting champion in 12 of those seasons, including a record nine in a row. For over six decades he was the all-time hit king having amassed 4189 hits in his career. In his rookie season of 1905, he played in 41 games with the Tigers and hit .240. The next 23 seasons he hit over .300. Included in that were back to back years in which he hit .420 and .409 and three straight years when he hit .383, .382 and .384. When he left the game following the 1928 season he did so with a lifetime batting average of .366. It remains today the highest lifetime batting average in the history of the game.

Pretty impressive huh?

Now considered this; in his 11,434 official at bats he made 7,245 outs. So that means his at bats ended in an out 63.4% of the time. Or we can say his out average was .634. Let that sink in for a minute.

He failed nearly twice as much as he succeeded.

Now, let’s take a look at this guy.


                      Cotton Davidson

Confused? You won’t be. Cotton Davidson sits in the 181st position for career completion percentage for NFL quarterbacks. In a 14 year career he completed 43.9% of his passes.

He failed 56.1 % of the time to meet his objective.

How about this guy?


                                                                  Shawn Marion

In a 16 year NBA career, Shawn Marion had a shooting percentage of .484 good enough to rank 250th on the all time career list.

He failed 51.6% of the time.

A quick recap, if THE BEST average hitter of all time had succeeded at the same rate as the worst NFL quarterback of all time he would have hit for a .439 lifetime batting average. NOBODY ever hit that high in one season. And if the BEST average hitter of all time had succeeded at the same rate as the worst NBA shooter of all time he would have hit at a .484 lifetime clip.

The absurdity of a baseball player hitting .439 or .484 in a season has all of you baseball aficionados smiling.

Baseball’s last .400 hitter may well be on to something.


Ted Williams hit .406 in 1941 and is sixth on the all time average list with an average of .344.

And what he was on to can be simply explained. Standing in a batters box 60 feet 6 inches from the pitcher, the batter holds in his hands a bat, made of wood. The bat is barreled and is round and smooth. The pitcher releases the ball at varying speeds which will range approximately 20-25 mph in their variations, depending upon the given pitcher. Big league pitchers can range from the high 60s from the knuckleballer to fastballs touching 100 mph.

The fast ball gives the batter the luxury of about 1/4 of a second to see, identify and swing his round object at the round baseball on his way.

Catch my drift?

As of today, 18,663 players have played Major League Baseball, and of all those a grand total of 178 of them have achieved a lifetime batting average of .300 or higher.

Now let that sink in for a second. The percentage of players to achieve the lifetime .300 mark is 0.009%! That is less than 1%. Thirty-seven of those players are over the .325 mark, twenty-four have hit the coveted .333 lifetime average, fourteen are over .340 and only THREE (including Cobb) are above .350.


                    Rogers Hornsby hit .358 in 23 seasons.


The ill-fated “Shoeless” Joe Jackson hit .356 in his 13 year career.

There are nine active players who are currently hitting higher than .300 throughout their careers.


Miguel Cabrera leads the active players with a .321 lifetime average. He is entering his 14th season.

All that said, perhaps the argument can best be made by looking at the top 1000 career averages in the history of the game. What would you guess the lifetime batting average is of the player who is 1000 on the all time average list? Think about that before proceeding and make your best guess

And before we get there, here he is.


Pat Kelly played 15 years from 1967-1981.

This morning he occupies Baseball Almanac’s 1000th spot on the list of Major League player’s batting average. Now before I give you his average, contemplate this fact; he is in the top 5.3% of batting averages.

He hit .264 lifetime, so conversely his out average is .736! He failed to get a base hit 73.6% of the time and he is among the top 5% in his success rate as a hitter.

Each player is an individual with varying expectations of what they wish to accomplish, These facts may help them make that first step in understanding that the very best who played this game, at its highest level, failed with a bat in their hands between 63 and 74% of the time.

Good luck!

And so it is on this day in baseball history, Coaching tip Day. February 28th, 2016.





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Indians on the Move…“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” ~ Aristotle

As the 2016 season begins, there are currently 21 Venice Indians who have taken their game to the next level. Four of those players finished the 2015 baseball season playing pro ball.


Venice High School Baseball

Matt Tellor was a 2010 graduate and a winner of the Indian Grinder Award. He went on to play at Southeast Missouri State from where he was a 10th round draft pick of the Braves in 2014. Last year he played for the Rome Braves in the South Atlantic League. He battled a wrist injury most of the season and hit .296 in August.


Matt Tellor Rome Braves

Nick Longhi played on the Indians back to back State Championship teams of 2012 and 13. He was drafted by the Red Sox in June of ‘13’ and last year he played in Greenville SC in the South Atlantic League. He hit .286 with 7 home runs and 62 RBI. He is slated to play in the Red Sox High A team in Salem Virginia. The website soxprospects.com lists Nick as their 13th ranked prospect.

nick sox card

Nick Longhi, Salem Red Sox

Aaron Rhodes graduated in 2011 and was a two-time Indian MVP as well as the pitcher of the year his senior year. He went on to the University of Florida where he earned SEC pitcher of the week honors, pitched for last year’s SEC Championship team and played in the College World Series.  Drafted by the Angels in June of 2015, he pitched in the Pioneer League striking out 23 batters in 21 innings.

Rhodes Owls

Joe Iorio graduated in 2010 and went on to play at the University of North Florida and then to Barry University from where he graduated in 2014. He spent last season pitching for Washington and Southern Illinois in the Frontier League, an independent minor league.

Joe Iorio

Indians CWS 2015

College World Series 2015

At the top of the Indian list of college players are three teammates who played in the 2015 College World Series. At the University of Florida, with Rhodes, last year were Mike Rivera and Dalton Guthrie. Both were 2014 graduates who played on the 2012 and ‘13’ back to back champions. Rivera was a member of the USA National team in 2013 which won the World Championship and Guthrie was the 2014 Florida 6A player of the year, as well as the recipient of the Rawlings National Prep Gold Glove Award. Both Indians were Freshman All-Americans in 2015 and are expected to be key components to Florida’s quest for a National Championship. Cooper Hammond was also a member of the back to back champs of ‘12’ and ‘13’. He was one of the most dominant pitchers in the history of baseball in Sarasota County. He was the 2013 7A Player of the Year and a first team prep All-American as well. The past two years he has led the University of Miami in pitching appearances and he is 10-3 with a 2.27 ERA as a Hurricane. Last year he faced his Indian teammates in the College World Series.

Sham UVA

Tyler Shambora

Tyler Shambora, another member of the Back to Back crew, went on to pitch at St. Petersburg Jr. College where he was an All-Conference player in 2015. His work ethic and determination has paid off as this year he will pitch for the defending National Champion Virginia Cavaliers.


Brandon Elmy

Brandon Elmy, yet another major contributor to the back to back championship seasons, is a jack of all trades at Furman University in South Carolina. He is pitching, playing the outfield and DHing for the Palladins. Elmo was the starting pitcher in the State Championship games of 2012 and “13”.



Cole Kragel

Last year’s Florida 6A Player of the Year and Indian co-captain, Cole Kragel will be pitching this year for the Hokies of Virginia Tech University. Kragel was 13-0 with a 0.72 Era with 104 strikeouts, leading the Indians to their third State Championship in four years.

Banko Eckerd

Grant Banko

Kevin Guthrie Brown

Kevin Guthrie

Co-Captains of the 2012 team will be entering their senior years this year. Grant Banko (Eckerd College) and Kevin Guthrie (Brown University), were driving forces for the “Road Warriors” of 2012. Guthrie missed most of last season with an arm injury and is expected to be ready to go for his senior campaign and Banko is hitting .250 with a triple and 2 RBI in Eckerd’s first three games this year.

knott ft

Michael Knott

Two Indians will toe the slab for Florida Tech University this season. Michael Knott, a 2012 graduate and co-captain with a 4.6 GPA, sat out last season with an arm injury and is expected to be back this year. Joining him on the mound with the Panthers will be freshman Colin Cristello who was a member of the ‘12’, ‘13’ and ‘15’ state championship teams.


Colin Cristello

Three members of the back to back championship teams of 2012 and ‘13’ are still playing and matriculating in Florida. Tyler Atwell will play this year at Florida Gulf Coast University in Ft. Myers. Atwell comes to FGCU via St. Petersburg and Tallahassee JC. Josh Grubbs enters into his junior year at Rollins College in Winter Park Florida. His kid brother Jake is the Indians senior catcher this year. Colton Lightner also enters his junior year at Stetson University where he will play second base for the Hatters this season.

Grubbs Atwell Lightner

Left to right, Josh Grubbs, Tyler Atwell, Colten Lightner and Coach Dubrule

Three more Indians are also on the mound for State College of Florida. Kade Hunkipillar (2015), Ryan Ahern and Ryan Miller (2014) all will be part of the staff of the Manatees. “Hunk” and Ahern are both southpaws who were part of Indians State Championship teams. Miller played centerfield, caught and pitched for the Indians and also owns two rings. Miller transferred to SCF following a year at Florida Atlantic.


Ryan Ahern

Miller SCF

Ryan Miller will be on to Clemson following this year with the Manatees.

Hunk Coach

Kade Hunkipillar and Coach Faulkner


Langston Provitt #25.

And finally, Langston Provitt, 2015 centerfielder and co-captain has taken his talents to Ohio University where he has chosen football as vehicle. This year he was a cornerback, kickoff and punt returner for the Bobcats.

Twenty-one Indians have chosen 10 different states in which they will bring their brand of excellence on and off the field. Wherever they travel, they do so in the knowledge that they come from a special place with a special tradition and that they are and will always remain, Indians all.

Peek back here as I will be posting bi-weekly updates of the progress of these young men.

And so it is on this day in Venice Indian Baseball history, moving on and up.

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For My Valentine…”And Think Not That You Can Guide the Course of Love, for Love, if it Finds You Worthy, Shall Guide Your Course.” Kahlil Gibran

I will never forget the first time I saw her, an image of resplendent beauty, life’s definition of perfection, a visage from far beyond the mortal realm. The crystalline glow which emanated from all that she was, touched me and I stood breathless in her presence, instantaneously made whole. My soul whispered, “Did my heart not love till now?”

Crystal Flower

I knew not what awaited me, I only knew that my life was never to be the same. I only knew that I wanted to be by her side, revel in her energy, bask in her glow.

It was a rocky start as we did not get to spend as much time together as I would have liked. Uncertainty defined us but the tug, the pull, the attraction was strong, palpable and undeniable.

Life intervened, testing, challenging. In separate ships we sailed, passing, watching, knowing and we found solace resting together in peaceful ports.

Ships in a Raging Storm

The wind of the seas tossed and turned, threatening, foreboding and at times seemed certain to send our ships to the bottom of the sea…

We endured.

There were times when the fires of hell, would burn so hot that to be consumed seemed  the only fate…


We endured.

There was the anguish of a vast emptiness, brought on by the separation of cold and lonely winters…


We endured.

The winds of change blew hard, menacing, shaping, changing…

wind storm

Carving within you a beauty deeper than was ever fathomable through, the fledgling eyes of yesterday. Your comeliness increased, strengthened, brightened through the passing years.


Years have turned to decades and we know not what the future holds. For we have lived, and died and loved before and now we love again. I have loved you with every fiber of my being, complete, total and I have given myself to you unabashedly and without reservation.

Through the pains and joys and aches of bygone days, the cosmic tumblers have clicked and showed us what’s possible. Each step we have taken, you have affirmed, confirmed and reconfirmed what I knew on that radiant night so long ago…with you I am made whole.


And you have loved me back.

So take my hand again and let us walk awhile, spring approaches and I long to once again walk with your hand in mine.  And when the time comes and we shuffle off this mortal coil it is the love that will remain.

Happy Valentine’s Day forever…



And so it is on this day, Valentines Day, 2016.

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“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.” Abraham Lincoln

Today marks the 206th anniversary of the birth of the greatest president in American history. There is no better American story of strength and perseverance than that the 16th president. To honor him, I decided to share with you this story from Coach Faulkner’s book, 61 Motivational Stories, For Every Coach of Every Sport. It is a story that every young American should hear and there is no better venue, than sports, in which to tell it.



“The path was worn and slippery. My foot slipped from under me, knocking the other out of the way, but I recovered and said to myself, ‘It’s a slip not a fall’.” Abraham Lincoln

This is a practice story about the “long haul” and developing an attitude that an individual will carry through life long after their playing days are over.

Perhaps the most iconic figure in all American history, Abraham Lincoln, endured a wide range of personal and professional adversity before assuming the arduous and near impossible task of leading a country split asunder by Civil War.

There may be no greater example of persistence and resilience than the 16th President, for through it all he refused to give up, or give in, He never saw quitting as an option and he simply endured.

Born into poverty, he became acquainted with adversity at an early age and it would revisit him throughout his life. He endured personal tragedy, professional failures and political losses and rejections at virtually every turn. He survived difficulties that would have swallowed lesser men but his determination, integrity, and character would simply not allow him to quit. Today he is widely recognized as the greatest President in the history of the United States of America.

1816- At the age of seven, his father lost a land dispute and was forced out of his home in Kentucky. His anti-slavery father moved his family to Indiana, a free state.

1818- His mother died.

1831- Working hard as manager of a store, he lost his job when the store’s owner overextended himself and the store went out of business.

1832- Ran for the State Legislature and lost.

1833- Went into business with a partner and shortly after the business failed, his partner died. Lincoln assumed his partner’s debt which he repaid in full.

1834- He was elected to the State Legislature.

1835- The love of his life, Anne Rutledge passed away.

1836- One month following Anne’s death, he threw himself into his reelection campaign and won.

1837- Betrothed to Mary Owens, it comes to an end when she simply does not answer his letter.

1838- After reelection for the third time, he ran for Speaker of the House of the Illinois State Legislature and lost. In this same year he received his license to practice law from the Illinois State Supreme Court.

1839- He was elected a Presidential Elector for Illinois Whig Party and held the position for the Presidential elections of 1840, 44, 48, 52 and 56.

1842- He married Mary Todd.


1843- Lost in his bid to become the Whig candidate for Congress.

1846- He is elected to Congress as a Whig.

1849- He sought the job of Land Officer in his home state and was rejected.

1850- The Lincoln’s second son, Eddie died at the age of four of consumption. (Tuberculosis)

Eddie Lincoln died aged 4, of tuberculosis

Eddie Lincoln died aged 4, of tuberculosis

1854- After receiving the most votes for the US Senate, but six votes shy of election, he withdrew from the race to insure that a pro-slavery democrat would not capture the seat.

1856- Unbeknownst to him, his name is placed in nomination for Vice-President of the new Republican Party. He does not win, receiving 110 of 363 votes.


1858- Although winning the popular vote as a member of the anti-slavery Republican Party, the democrats win majority in the Illinois State Legislature and name Stephen Douglas to the US Senate.

1860- He was elected President of the United States.

1862- His third son Willie dies of “fever” devastating Lincoln and his wife Mary.

Abe Willie Lincoln

1862- A few short months after Willie’s death, he signs the Emancipation Proclamation elevating the Civil War to a higher plane as the freeing of the slaves now becomes an objective of the war.

1863- He delivers the Gettysburg Address considered by many the greatest speech in the history of the United States.


A face in the crowd. The only photo of Lincoln taken related to the Gettysburg Address. It took two minutes and the photographer was expecting a speech of two hours.

1864- He appoints Ulysses S Grant commanding general of all Union forces and stays with him through vicious criticism that he is “a butcher.” Through it all Lincoln maintains simply, “he fights, he wins.”

1864-1865- In late 1864 and into 1865 he leads, what many considered a lost cause as he works to pass the 13th amendment outlawing slavery. He succeeds!


1865- He is shot by an assassin five days after the surrender of Robert E Lee to Grant ending the war; and he dies the next day.

There may be no greater story of overcoming adversity and persevering to achieve unfathomable heights than that of Abraham Lincoln. We have had our ups and downs, we have had our failures…we have had our slips. But we cannot and will not fall! Not tonight men…Tonight we take our cue from the greatest president in history and we may slip but we will not fall, we get back up and take it!

Thanks to all who have supported our self publishing effort. We are 60% there. If you are a coach, know a coach or simply enjoy reading motivational stories, jump on board and receive a limited edition hard bound, autographed copy.

Hit play and after listening to Coach, click on the K in the upper left corner.

And so it is on this day, February 12, 2016, Abraham Lincoln’s 206th birthday.

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Hold the Rope…..

One of the great things about living in Florida is that as February begins, we are now entering our third week of baseball season. In one more week the real games will begin! Nothing much better than the fact that high school baseball in Florida is actually a “winter” sport. Well, technically they call it a spring sport but in reality two of the four months it is played take place while our northern friends are shivering and shoveling.

It is an exciting time for prep baseball and that includes the troops at Venice High. There are few things more gratifying than working with a group of young men who are dedicated, committed and passionate about their lives and baseball, the game they play, the greatest of games.

The past couple of weeks as the Indians are preparing for their 2016 season, we have been visited by a few alumni.

Nick Longhi, a 2013 graduate and a member of the ’12’ and ’13’ State Championship teams, is back, working out and lending a hand hitting fungoes and working in the outfield. This year he is slated to play at the Red Sox high ‘A’ affiliate in Salem Virginia.

Matt Tellor, a 2011 Venice graduate played at Southeast Missouri State and in 2014 was a 10th round pick of the Atlanta Braves. He played last year in Rome in the South Atlantic League. He’s been working out and with the young Indians at first base.



Aaron Rhodes, another 2011 grad, went on to Florida, an SEC championship and a visit to the College World Series. Drafted by the Angels last June, he spent the summer in Utah with the Orem Owls. He has been at the field throwing and giving tips to members of the Indian mound crew.

It is gratifying to watch these young men, pursuing their dream, returning to their roots. They return to work, they return to stay sharp and they return to give back. It is serendipitous that this particular year we have these guys in our camp. For as I watched them this week I was struck by what it means to these guys to be part of the Venice Indian program. It is a powerful statement to today’s Indians to see the pride that these professional players carry in their Venice Indian heritage.

There is a common denominator to the tradition of “excellence on and off the field” that is Venice High School Baseball. That common denominator is this guy.

faulknerfrontCraig Faulkner begins his 18th year as Venice High head coach.

The serendipity lay in the fact that as Faulkner begins another year of team building, motivating and teaching, he does so having just penned a book, his first. It is a book that he actually began about 30 years ago when he played for one of college baseball’s greatest motivator, “Skip” Bertman.

As many of you are aware, this is a self publishing effort and as of this morning we are halfway to the goal. So this morning, is a peek at the book; a favorite story on building a team.



This is a story of team unity which can only come from trust and can be used at any time during the season or before.

This story can either be used just before the season starts or before a game where it becomes applicable; preferably early in the season. A rope should be used as a visual aid can be effective in the telling of this story and all it should be held in front of the group or dangled over a desk.

After presenting the rope you choose a player and ask this question; “If you were dangling off the end of a cliff and holding on to this rope, which player on this team would you choose to have holding the other end?” You add the caveat, “Remember you must choose someone who you know would not ever let you go; no matter how tired they got or how much pain they had to endure.”

It is most likely that they will choose the biggest and strongest kid on the team. They will also probably take some time looking about as they decide whom they would choose. It does not really matter who they choose because your response will always be the same. “Men when you do not hesitate in your response to that question and you can simply and unequivocally state;” It does not matter who holds the rope as long as it is one of my teammates, I don’t care who it is, I know none of them will let me fall.” It is then and only then that we will be where we need to be as a unit, as a team.

This is the kind of trust we must develop among us. It must be unwavering, it must be complete and it requires 100% commitment from each and every one of us. Trust is not something we can buy, it is not something we get from last year’s team; rather it’s something we earn, earning from each other day in and day out. Players earn it from coaches, coaches earn it from players and players earn it from each other. We will succeed only when each member of the team is trusted.

We earn it, one from each other, by putting the needs of the team ahead of all else. We earn it with an attitude that says simply, what can I do to make US BETTER? Gentlemen we are a family and from this day forward we will treat each other as such both on and off the field.

So thanks to all who have got behind this project and if you have not seen this yet, take two minutes to hear Coach Faulkner tell this story and if you are so motivated, click on the K in the upper left hand corner and climb on board.

And so it is on this day, February 3, 2016, the precipice of another year of BASEBALL, the GREATEST of GAMES.


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“Love Wins Mitch, Love Always Wins”….. Morrie Schwartz

I have never been one of the celebratory New Years Eve types; always looking at the start of a New Year as a time of reflection and introspection. Solemnity, more than revelry, has always seemed  far more appropriate for the occasion.

This year was particularly poignant, for the Christmas Season brought sorrow to the world of a loved one, as my daughter lost a dear friend. Amanda was 32, and a labor and delivery nurse at Boston’s Beth Israel Hospital. She was struck by car while running near her home; training for the Boston Marathon which she was running for a charity. An excruciating week ended, when life support was discontinued and, in the true spirit of a caregiver, three people received their miracle in organ donations from this bright light. She left an eight year old son and scores of people who love her. Her 32 years left an indelible mark upon the people she touched and her family and friends who loved and were loved by her.

Hanover nurse Amanda Turner Russell has died from injuries she suffered when she was struck by a car Dec. 23.

Amanda Turner Russell

Her passing is a cruel reminder of the fragility of life and the need to capture each moment. I found myself more grateful for my blessings and holding loved ones just a little closer.

As 2015 sank into the sea of yesterdays, the Red Sox lost two legends when Dave Henderson (Dec, 27th) and Frank Malzone (Dec. 29th) passed away. Henderson, 57, succumbed to a heart attack in Seattle nearly two months after receiving a kidney transplant; while Malzone, 85, died in his home in Needham Massachusetts. And with them, went a piece of my childhood, a piece of my youth.


Dave Henderson was rarely, if ever, seen without a smile on his face.

Frank Malzone is the only Red Sox third baseman to win a Gold Glove.

These two men left their indelible marks upon the Red Sox and the city and did so in decidedly different ways. They came from different eras, one a highly touted first round pick, the other toiled for seven years in the minor leagues before making it to the show. One was a bolt of lightning, the other a steady, constant force.

Dave “Hendu” Henderson was the Seattle Mariners first round pick in 1977. He made his debut with the Mariners in 1981 and joined them to stay the following year. He toiled in Seattle until late in the 1986 season, August 19th to be exact. The Red Sox were in first place, 5 1/2 games ahead of the Yankees in the AL East when they added “Hendu” as a fourth outfielder and to gain some right handed pop off the bench.

Boston Red Sox outfielder Dave Henderson, left, jokes with quarterback Doug Flutie prior to the start of Game Six of the American League Championship series against the California Angels in Boston, Oct. 14, 1986. The Chicago Bears have acquired the rights to Flutie from the Los Angeles Rams for an unannounced future draft choice, Bears' general manager Jerry Vainisi announced Tuesday. (AP Photo/Peter Southwick)

Boston Red Sox outfielder Dave Henderson, left, jokes with quarterback Doug Flutie prior to the start of Game Six of the American League Championship series against the California Angels in Boston, Oct. 14, 1986. The Chicago Bears had just acquired the rights to Flutie from the Los Angeles Rams for an unannounced future draft choice. (AP Photo/Peter Southwick)

Dave Henderson came to bat 51 times for Boston during the 1986 season. He had but 10 hits for a .196 average. He hit a home run, drove in three and he struck out 15 times in those 51 at bats, nearly 30% of the time. All in all, rather non-descript.

The Red Sox prevailed in the AL East setting up the best of seven series against the Angels. California led the Series three games to one and were ahead in the fifth game 5-2 when the Red Sox came to bat in the top of the ninth. Bill Buckner led off with a single and Dave Stapleton ran for him. I was on the phone with my brother when Jim Rice was caught looking for the first out. We were lamenting yet another Red Sox post-season disappointment, when Don Baylor hit a two run homer, it was 5-4. There was a flicker of hope. We said goodbye. Evans popped out and Rich Gedman stepped in and was hit by a pitch. Police on horseback circled the outfield as the Angels and their fans prepared to celebrate their first ever trip to the World Series. Dave Henderson came to the plate.


His dramatic home run put the Sox ahead 6-5 and the Angels tied the game in their half of the ninth. In the 11th inning the Red Sox scored on a sacrifice fly by, guess who? That’s right, Dave Henderson. The win sent the Series back to Fenway and the Red Sox won game six, 10-4 and game seven 8-1. It was on to the World Series.

Red Sox fans remember the horror of the “86” Series, however few will remember that “Hendu” hit .400 in that Series, hammering out 10 hits with two homers, five RBI and a team leading 1.208 OPS.

He played only 75 games with the Red Sox in 1987 and was traded to the Giants before the end of the season. In 2000 Dave Henderson’s bolt of lightning was immortalized when his home run was officially recognized as one of the franchises Memorable Moments in the Red Sox Hall of Fame.

Frank Malzone was signed by the Red Sox in 1947, out of Samuel Gompers High School in the Bronx. He made $175 a month his first year and his minor league journey took him through: Milford Delaware, Oneonta NY, Scranton PA, Louisville KY and finally San Francisco before arriving in Boston to stay in 1956. His career, like so many of his era, was interrupted for two years of military service during the Korean War. Playing in Oneonta in 1949, he met his future wife Amy Gennerino.

“Malzie made his debut in 1955 playing six games. He arrived to stay in 1956 and in ’57’ he hit .292 with 15 homers and 103 RBI. He finished 2nd in Rookie of the Year voting and seventh in the vote for AL MVP.

My dad called him “Malzie” and he was a particular favorite in the Sinibaldi household. A son of an Italian immigrant, his dad came from Salerno Italy and worked for the water department in New York city. My dad had a particular affinity for his Italian brethren. That affinity trickled down to his son.

He became a star and was a bridge between the eras of Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski. A teammate of both Hall of Famers, he played with Ted the last four years of his career and with Yaz the first five of his.

Eleven of his 12 years in the Big Leagues were played in Boston where he was a bona fide star on teams that never won more than 84 games and finished an average 24 games out of first place.

His accomplishments were many. He was a six time all star and the first ever recipient of the Rawlings Gold Glove Award at third base. That first year the award was for both leagues and he followed it up with back to back AL Gold Gloves in 1958 and 59. He is the only Red Sox third baseman to win a Gold Glove and he is the Red Sox career leader for home runs and RBI by a third baseman.

Frank Malzone and Willie Mays during the 1960 All Star game at Yankee Stadium. Malzone said his greatest thrill in baseball was hitting a home run off Don Drysdale in the 1959 All Star game, a 5-3 AL win.

Returning back home to Boston following his last playing year with the Angels in 1966, he became a scout, friend and mentor to scores of players who followed him. His influence spanned more than six decades and the mark he left on so many extends far beyond the diamond and many talked about Frank Malzone, the man.

“When I first came to the big leagues in 1961, Frank was the guy who took me under his wing,” Carl Yastrzemski said. “I struggled when I first came up, and he took care of me and stayed with me. He was a real class guy, a very caring guy, and I owe him a lot. You aren’t going to find too many people like him.” Dwight Evans met him his rookie year in 1972. “He may not have been one of the coaches on the team, but he was a coach for me, instructing me on the finer parts of the game… In some ways, Frank was like a big brother. I loved him as a man and as a mentor. He will be sorely missed.” Mike Lowell played five years as the Red Sox third baseman and was the MVP of the ’07’ World Series. He offered, “Frank was always there to give me a smile and a great word of encouragement every time… He was always a symbol to me of what a professional and standup member of the organization should be.”

He was a charter member of the Red Sox Hall of Fame which opened in 1995. Inducted along side the likes of Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, Joe Cronin, Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, Tom Yawkey and Cy Young. His legacy cemented in Red Sox lore.

Last Sunday was a 41 degree Florida morn. Regardless, I made my way to the links to hack it around with these guys.


We have not played together since early November. I got to don one of Dad’s old sweaters and there were reflections of Red Sox days, past, present and future. As the chill of dawn melted into a perfect day I was reminded of the light in my world and all those who contribute to it.

So God speed to those who left us and from the little boy and the young man in me thanks to Malzie and Hendu. And from today’s man who stands on the precipice of his winter, God Bless, Amanda, and I will take some solace in knowing that Addy, Reagan and Quinn, three of my brightest lights, have the beacon of your spirit watching over them.

The year 2016 will find me continuing to chase the light, grateful evermore for all who have illuminated my way; even those who fear the wonder of their own inner glow and know not, how bright it burns.


And thus it should be, for love wins…Love always wins.

And so it is as 2016’s first month draws to a close. The work of Bill Nowlin and Peter Abraham contributed to this story.

Thanks so much to all who have jumped on board, we are 30% towards our goal to self publish. If you are a coach, know a coach or simply want to read some inspiring motivational stories, check us out! We would love to have you with us.






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“Commitment is What Transforms a Promise into Reality” Abraham Lincoln

Last weekend I made my first post in quite a while. It had been since my trip to Cooperstown for a book signing at the Hall of Fame and the induction of the class of 2015; that included the incomparable Pedro. FullSizeRender (8)

Of course I had my thoughts, observations and opinions on a lot that went on in the baseball world. I had all kinds of ideas for posting, but the truth is, I was totally immersed here.

Real deal Baseball

Having joined forces with Venice High School head baseball coach Craig Faulkner and infield coach Joe Komaroski, we have written a book of motivational stories. This book had its beginnings back in the 1980s when Faulkner played at LSU for the legendary college coach Skip Bertman. Bertman, who wrote the book’s foreword, is recognized today as one of colleges all time greatest coaches. Faulkner remembers him as an outstanding motivator and mentor. It is Bertman’s coaching and motivating style that Faulkner has emulated and brought to his home town of Venice Florida. At the helm since 1999, he has guided his troops to seven trips to the state Final Four and four State Titles, three in the last four years. And beyond that, and far more important, his players have amassed over 20, 000 hours of community service. Each year brings a community commitment which includes time and energy focused on community service projects. Among them are Habitat for Humanity, Little League Challenger Baseball and visits to local nursing homes.


Faulkner returned home to Venice FL following nearly a decade of pro ball in the organizations of the Orioles, Cardinals and Brewers. Since taking the helm in 1999 he has built one of the most successful prep baseball programs in the country.



He has been gathering and writing motivational stories since his college days.


Coach K, bat in hand, is an innate motivating force unto himself.

Joe Komaroski graduated from Venice High School in the 1970s, where he played baseball. New Jersey born, he moved to Venice as a kid and he is entrenched in the community he loves. In fact, let there be no doubt, Venice green blood runs through his veins. A truly American story, Joe K is the embodiment of the American entrepreneurial spirit; having built two successful businesses in Venice. Today, when he’s not at the baseball field, he owns and operates an All State Insurance Agency. He is tenacious in finding ways to set, goals, motivate and teach his players the true meaning of Coach Faulkner’s motto of “Excellence on and off the Field.”


And then there’s me.

At Fenway

At Fenway Park in November 2013.

Just a guy who loves baseball and who got lucky to fall in with a coach and a group of men who share that love and combine it with a passion for teaching the life lessons that it (and all sports) offers young people.


The stories are told within the context of a baseball team and they are broken down into five categories: building, bonding and defining a team, the mind of the competitor, adversity that hits every player, the big game and finally working, preparing and making adjustments.

The passion we bring to this game is fueled by the simple fact that sports and competition are the single greatest metaphor for life. Again, these stories are told within the context of the game of baseball because that is what we do. However, each story could be applied to  any aspect of life. They could be used in the boardroom, on the pulpit, in the classroom and sitting around the dining room table.

The book is now complete and we are stepping into the foray of self publishing. So check us out here, click on the K in the left hand corner. We’d love to have you on board.

And so it is on this day, January 22, 2016, 14 days till Venice High Baseball opening day!


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“The Energy of the Mind is the Essence of Life”…Aristotle

Hello again, I’ve been away for a while, the whys of which I will clarify in a post this week, but first I must tell you a story. Surprised?

From time to time I have written here about the Venice High School Baseball program in Venice Florida. I am proud and privileged to say I am the voice of the Venice Indians, their designated historian and on occasion I get to knock some fungoes around and throw some BP.

The best part is I get to associate with a great group of young men who are committed, dedicated, hardworking, determined and focused. Their energy, retards that process we call aging.

Back in January of 2013 I wrote a story about one of our most loyal long time supporters, a man named Jack Dundas. A retired Army Colonel with seven, count em seven, Purple Hearts. He was wounded three times at the Battle of the Bulge, twice in Korea and twice in Vietnam. He passed away in November of 2011 and the 2012 team dedicated the season to him. That season ended in a State Championship.


Jacks Plaque

This plaque, which was placed in January of 2013 marks the Colonel’s seat at the ball park.

On the day this plaque was installed, a bald eagle visited the ball park, circled a bit, perched for about 10 minutes and went on his way. A week later, on the first day of tryouts for the ’13’ team, the eagle returned, and watching from the left field light bank, waited for Coach Faulkner to finish his talk with the boys and then moved on.


The Colonel keeps his eye on troops at Venice High.

The first day of tryouts in 2014 brought yet another visit from the full bird, and 2015 did the same. It grew rather commonplace for the Colonel to make his appearance, ON THE FIRST DAY OF TRYOUTS, sit a while and then, satisfied that all was well, take flight. It kept us all shaking our heads and smiling.

The story took an interesting twist last Monday, January 11th and that twist began last March. As the Venice High team was making their march to what would become their third State Championship in four years; we lost another long time, loyal supporter.

Roy Stevens

Roy was 98 years young when he left us. He tallied the strikeouts for Venice High pitchers by hanging green K’s on the fence from his chair, on the home plate side of the Indian dugout. He too was a veteran of WW II and on the night before he passed, a wide smile came to his face when he was informed that the Indians had eeked out a 2-1 win.

Well last Monday I arrived at THE FIRST DAY of TRYOUTS and as I walked on the field Coach Faulkner came over to me…

Jack and Roy

The Venice High Baseball team has some very special eyes watching over them.

“Roy and Jack are both here.” He said and I didn’t quite understand. He threw his eyes skyward towards left field and there they were. They sat for about five minutes and then they were gone. Yet somehow I think we will see them again.

I’ll keep you posted.

And so it is on this FIRST DAY OF TRYOUTS.






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