In Nashville, Tennessee, during the first week of January, 1996, more than 4,000 baseball coaches descended upon the Opryland Hotel for the 52nd annual ABCA convention. Nineteen times since, many of the same professional, college, high school, youth, and a slew of international coaches from passionate and developing baseball nations have gathered at various convention hotels across the country for two-and-half days of clinic presentations and industry exhibits. Sure, many members of the American Baseball Coaches Association have come and gone in those years; the leadership has been passed, nepotistically, from Dave Keilitz to his son, Craig; and the association — and baseball, in general — has lost some of its greatest coaches, including Rod Dedeaux, Gordie Gillespie, and Chuck “Bobo” Brayton.

I have attended all but three conventions in those nineteen years, and I have enjoyed and benefited from each of them. But ’96 was special — not just because it was held in the home of country music, a town I’d always wanted to visit. And not because I was attending my very first convention. Nashville in ’96 was special because it was there and then that I learned that baseball — the thing that had brought 4,000 of us together — was merely a metaphor for my own life and those of the players I hoped to impact.

While I waited in line to register with the hotel staff, I heard other more veteran coaches rumbling about the lineup of speakers scheduled to present during the weekend. One name, in particular, kept resurfacing, always with the same sentiment — “John Scolinos is here? Oh man, worth every penny of my airfare.”

Who the hell is John Scolinos, I wondered. No matter, I was just happy to be there.

Having sensed the size of the group during check-in, I woke early the next morning in order to ensure myself a good seat near the stage — first chair on the right side of the center isle, third row back — where I sat, alone, for an hour until the audio-visual techs arrived to fine-tune their equipment. The proverbial bee bee in a boxcar, I was surrounded by empty chairs in a room as large as a football field. Eventually, I was joined by other, slightly less eager, coaches until the room was filled to capacity. By the time Augie Garrido was introduced to deliver the traditional first presentation from the previous season’s College World Series winner, there wasn’t an empty chair in the room.

ABCA conventions have a certain party-like quality to them. They provide a wonderful opportunity to re-connect with old friends from a fraternal game that often spreads its coaches all over the country. As such, it is common for coaches to bail out of afternoon clinic sessions in favor of old friends and the bar. As a result, I discovered, the crowd is comparatively sparse after lunch, and I had no trouble getting my seat back, even after grabbing a plastic-wrapped sandwich off the shelf at the Opryland gift shop.

I woke early the next morning and once again found myself alone in the massive convention hall, reviewing my notes from the day before: pitching mechanics, hitting philosophy, team practice drills. All technical and typical — important stuff for a young coach, and I was in Heaven. At the end of the morning session, certain that I had accurately scouted the group dynamic and that my seat would again be waiting for me after lunch, I allowed myself a few extra minutes to sit down and enjoy an overpriced sandwich in one of the hotel restaurants. But when I returned to the convention hall thirty minutes before the lunch break ended, not only was my seat not available, barely any seats were available! I managed to find one between two high school coaches, both proudly adorned in their respective team caps and jackets. Disappointed in myself for losing my seat up front, I wondered what had pried all these coaches from their barstools. I found the clinic schedule in my bag: “1 PM John Scolinos, Cal Poly Pomona.” It was the man whose name I had heard buzzing around the lobby two days earlier. Could he be the reason that all 4,000 coaches had returned, early, to the convention hall? Wow, I thought, this guy must really be good.

I had no idea.

In 1996, Coach Scolinos was 78 years old and five years retired from a college coaching career that began in 1948. He shuffled to the stage to an impressive standing ovation, wearing dark polyester pants, a light blue shirt, and a string around his neck from which home plate hung — a full-sized, stark-white home plate.

Seriously, I wondered, who in the hell is this guy?

After speaking for twenty-five minutes, not once mentioning the prop hanging around his neck, Coach Scolinos appeared to notice the snickering among some of the coaches. Even those who knew Coach Scolinos had to wonder exactly where he was going with this, or if he had simply forgotten about home plate since he’d gotten on stage.

Then, finally …

“You’re probably all wondering why I’m wearing home plate around my neck. Or maybe you think I escaped from Camarillo State Hospital,” he said, his voice growing irascible. I laughed along with the others, acknowledging the possibility. “No,” he continued, “I may be old, but I’m not crazy. The reason I stand before you today is to share with you baseball people what I’ve learned in my life, what I’ve learned about home plate in my 78 years.”

Several hands went up when Scolinos asked how many Little League coaches were in the room. “Do you know how wide home plate is in Little League?” After a pause, someone offered, “Seventeen inches,” more question than answer.

“That’s right,” he said. “How about in Babe Ruth? Any Babe Ruth coaches in the house?”

Another long pause.

“Seventeen inches?”came a guess from another reluctant coach.

“That’s right,” said Scolinos. “Now, how many high school coaches do we have in the room?” Hundreds of hands shot up, as the pattern began to appear. “How wide is home plate in high school baseball?”

“Seventeen inches,” they said, sounding more confident.

“You’re right!” Scolinos barked. “And you college coaches, how wide is home plate in college?”

“Seventeen inches!” we said, in unison.

“Any Minor League coaches here? How wide is home plate in pro ball?”

“Seventeen inches!”

“RIGHT! And in the Major Leagues, how wide home plate is in the Major Leagues?”

“Seventeen inches!”

“SEV-EN-TEEN INCHES!” he confirmed, his voice bellowing off the walls. “And what do they do with a a Big League pitcher who can’t throw the ball over seventeen inches?” Pause. “They send him to Pocatello!” he hollered, drawing raucous laughter.

“What they don’t do is this: they don’t say, ‘Ah, that’s okay, Jimmy. You can’t hit a seventeen-inch target? We’ll make it eighteen inches, or nineteen inches. We’ll make it twenty inches so you have a better chance of hitting it. If you can’t hit that, let us know so we can make it wider still, say twenty-five inches.'”

Pause.

“Coaches …”

Pause.

” … what do we do when our best player shows up late to practice? When our team rules forbid facial hair and a guy shows up unshaven? What if he gets caught drinking? Do we hold him accountable? Or do we change the rules to fit him, do we widen home plate?

The chuckles gradually faded as four thousand coaches grew quiet, the fog lifting as the old coach’s message began to unfold. He turned the plate toward himself and, using a Sharpie, began to draw something. When he turned it toward the crowd, point up, a house was revealed, complete with a freshly drawn door and two windows. “This is the problem in our homes today. With our marriages, with the way we parent our kids. With our discipline. We don’t teach accountability to our kids, and there is no consequence for failing to meet standards. We widen the plate!

Pause. Then, to the point at the top of the house he added a small American flag.

“This is the problem in our schools today. The quality of our education is going downhill fast and teachers have been stripped of the tools they need to be successful, and to educate and discipline our young people. We are allowing others to widen home plate! Where is that getting us?”

Silence. He replaced the flag with a Cross.

“And this is the problem in the Church, where powerful people in positions of authority have taken advantage of young children, only to have such an atrocity swept under the rug for years. Our church leaders are widening home plate!”

I was amazed. At a baseball convention where I expected to learn something about curveballs and bunting and how to run better practices, I had learned something far more valuable. From an old man with home plate strung around his neck, I had learned something about life, about myself, about my own weaknesses and about my responsibilities as a leader. I had to hold myself and others accountable to that which I knew to be right, lest our families, our faith, and our society continue down an undesirable path.

“If I am lucky,” Coach Scolinos concluded, “you will remember one thing from this old coach today. It is this: if we fail to hold ourselves to a higher standard, a standard of what we know to be right; if we fail to hold our spouses and our children to the same standards, if we are unwilling or unable to provide a consequence when they do not meet the standard; and if our schools and churches and our government fail to hold themselves accountable to those they serve, there is but one thing to look forward to …”

With that, he held home plate in front of his chest, turned it around, and revealed its dark black backside.

“… dark days ahead.”

Coach Scolinos died in 2009 at the age of 91, but not before touching the lives of hundreds of players and coaches, including mine. Meeting him at my first ABCA convention kept me returning year after year, looking for similar wisdom and inspiration from other coaches. He is the best clinic speaker the ABCA has ever known because he was so much more than a baseball coach.

His message was clear: “Coaches, keep your players — no matter how good they are — your own children, and most of all, keep yourself at seventeen inches.”

He was, indeed, worth the airfare.

 

© Chris Sperry, Baseball/Life, LLC

 

Written by Chris Sperry

Chris Sperry

Chris Sperry is a baseball consultant who develops players and amateur coaches, assists professional scouts, and counsels families of prospective college-bound student-athletes. He holds a Bachelor's of Business Administration from the University of Portland, the same institution at which he served as head baseball coach for 18 years. His key interests are in player and personal development as they pertain to a life in and beyond sports.

  • John Love says:
    February 17, 2016 Reply

    Great article I was so blessed to play for coach Scolinos 83-85 he taught me so much about the game of baseball but even more about life. Loved him and cherish all my memories with him.
    Coach John Love
    Ontario Christian High School

    • Chris Sperry
      Chris Sperry says:
      February 17, 2016 Reply

      Thanks, Coach Love. You played for one of life’s great teachers.

  • Mik says:
    February 17, 2016 Reply

    Great message Coach. I’m printing this for my 18 year old son to read. Thank you!

    • Chris Sperry
      Chris Sperry says:
      February 17, 2016 Reply

      Thanks for reading, Mik. I was blessed to be influenced by some great teachers.

  • Bill Moore says:
    February 18, 2016 Reply

    Thank You Sir for printing this. I am a HUGH Fan of Coach Scolinas. Great Coach Very Wise Man!!!

    • Chris Sperry
      Chris Sperry says:
      February 20, 2016 Reply

      He was one of our game’s treasures, Bill. Thanks for reading.

  • Darren Smith says:
    February 18, 2016 Reply

    I still remember some of the lessons from your years at Centralia. Hard to believe that was 20 years ago! You gave me my first opportunity to coach, even though I was probably more of a coach in job title than teacher. I have always appreciated the conversations, and life lessons learned while working with you. Make the day great!

    • Chris Sperry
      Chris Sperry says:
      February 20, 2016 Reply

      Thanks, Darren. I hope you are doing well. Kind words.

  • Rob McDonald says:
    February 18, 2016 Reply

    Thank you for that awesome story. Chris. Coach Scolinos was the best. In the 30+ years that I’ve attended the ABCA Convention, I can remember only 2 coaches who received standing ovations BEFORE they spoke (John Scolinos and Gordie Gillespie). I laughed, cried, and laughcried when Coach Scolinos spoke. I spoke in Nashville at that convention (I thought it was ’95). I was so thrilled to ride in an elevator with Coach Scolinos. He was the best.

    • Chris Sperry
      Chris Sperry says:
      February 20, 2016 Reply

      Thanks for reading, Rob. I remember your speech because I bought your video immediately after, and continue to teach many of your catching principals. You were a very talented and polished young coach — I’m certain you’ve only gotten better.

      • Rob McDonald says:
        February 22, 2016 Reply

        Wow. That is flattering Chris. I have re-read your article about 5 times. Of all the things I’ve ever posted on FaceBook, Your story has gotten the most attention.

        • Chris Sperry
          Chris Sperry says:
          February 23, 2016 Reply

          Nice to know someone is reading! Hope to meet you one day, Coach.

  • Carol Keller says:
    February 18, 2016 Reply

    Wonderful! I’m sending it to my grown son who coaches a team of 12 year olds. Thanks.

  • Patrick M. Cronin says:
    February 18, 2016 Reply

    Chris, thank you your article on Coach. I think you really captured the essence of who he really was. I was blessed to play for him from 78-81. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of him. I’m pretty sure my wife and children are tired of me reciting his words of advice and wisdom. It brought tears to my eyes as I read your article. Reminding me how much I truly miss the Man.

    • Chris Sperry
      Chris Sperry says:
      February 20, 2016 Reply

      You were blessed indeed, Pat. Thank you for reading.

  • John Spivey says:
    February 19, 2016 Reply

    Great read and so true! This will be given to my son, his coaches and forwarded on Facebook to all of my friends!

  • Robby Myrick says:
    February 20, 2016 Reply

    Awesome story. Powerful message. Thanks for sharing!

    • John Scolinos/nephew says:
      February 21, 2016 Reply

      On behalf of the entire Scolinos Family thank you for keeping his memory alive
      He was a great man a great husband ,father, coach, mentor and teacher.
      But above all he was a man who love the Lord

      • Chris Sperry
        Chris Sperry says:
        February 21, 2016 Reply

        I’m pleased to know this story made its way to the Scolinos family. Your uncle was the coach I always wanted to be. Thanks for reading.

  • Robert L. Papac says:
    February 21, 2016 Reply

    Coach Scolinos was a legend in the Pomona Valley. While I was attending Cal Poly Pomona, in the last 60’s-early 70’s he was our coach there. We always looked forward to the U.S.C. Game so that we could see both him and Rod Dedeaux go head to head. Another one was Ben Hines while he coached at Laverne College. Amazing men, a credit to coaching.

    • Chris Sperry
      Chris Sperry says:
      February 21, 2016 Reply

      Thanks for sharing, Mr. Papac.

      • Andy Lehmann says:
        February 21, 2016 Reply

        This was quite a read having learned similar lessons in the many days of playing in the Chicago area. Now teaching and coaching in MI , it is quite evident that the Coach’s words still ring so true. Thanks Coach Sherry.

        • Chris Sperry
          Chris Sperry says:
          February 23, 2016 Reply

          Thanks for reading.

          • Darrell miller says:
            February 24, 2016

            Chris
            I also played for coach Scolinos at cal poly Pomona for 3 years 77-79.
            He was the real deal. There is not a day I spend that everything he taught me in life and on the baseball field isn’t used.
            We don’t widen the plate and we teach others to be good umpires led by the great umpire in Chief- the almighty !
            Coach also taught us to know fair from foul, a strike from a ball, safe from out. He taught us to use good judgment
            Thank you for the reminder and for sharing .
            We must never lose sight of truth and coach Scolinos taught how to use sports to teach us character, and how baseball is the only sport that is like every day life.

          • Chris Sperry
            Chris Sperry says:
            February 24, 2016

            Pass all those lessons on Darrell. You were one of the lucky ones.

  • George Chekouras says:
    February 23, 2016 Reply

    Chris – Thank you for the article. I already have sent it to my 3 sons. What words of wisdom coach Scolinos spoke. I’m one of the fortunate ones in that John Scolinos was my uncle as well. To think of all the times I was around the man and never giving it a second thought as to his greatness as a human. I just took it for granted, but I always knew he was a very special man blessed by God to be the example of how a godly man should conduct his life. My mother told me many stories about her brother, from youth to when he was still coaching. Thanks Again – George Chekouras

    • Chris Sperry
      Chris Sperry says:
      February 24, 2016 Reply

      We often fail to recognize brilliance when it stands before us everyday, especially in our youth.

  • Tommy Williamson says:
    February 24, 2016 Reply

    I just read the article …. thought it was great! I made a copy to make copies for my high school baseball team. Thanks for sharing the story with us!

    Yours In Baseball,
    Tommy

    • Chris Sperry
      Chris Sperry says:
      February 24, 2016 Reply

      Thanks for reading … and sharing, Coach.

  • Ryan McGinnis says:
    February 24, 2016 Reply

    Thanks for a wonderfully reflective piece, Chris. The 1996 ABCA was my first convention as well and what a treat it was to listen to Coach Scolinos. As the snow flew outside and the interstate was closing, I was enveloped in a talk that would help influence my coaching career immensely. I have watched that video every year since and share it with young coaches that I have on staff. Your piece captures “the moment” well. Thank you.

    • Chris Sperry
      Chris Sperry says:
      March 14, 2016 Reply

      Thanks, Coach. We are both better for having attended that weekend. Good luck!

  • LaVoe B. Potter says:
    March 13, 2016 Reply

    Coach John Scolinos was truly a phenomenal coach and a leader who led by example. I’m sharing your article with some relatives and friends who have children involved in sports of all varieties. My husband of 44-1/2 years was a CPA by profession, and a faithful Christian. He loved sports and participated in his youth; coached Boy Scouts and Little League in the 1950-1960 time period when our children were young. He also trained and coached our youngest son in target shooting. He ultimately became a champion shooter, earning a scholarship to college. I’m an 87 yoa widow ~ enjoying wonderful memories.
    Thank you, Coach Sperry, for sharing this inspiring story…you made my day!

    • Chris Sperry
      Chris Sperry says:
      March 14, 2016 Reply

      And you made my day, Mrs. Potter. Thank you for sharing your wonderful memories. Congratulations on a long marriage to a wonderful man. As my own 84-year-old father says, that’s a long time to go steady! I’m know he is missed.

  • Jim Lewis says:
    March 17, 2016 Reply

    Chris, your story was forwarded to me my our 81 year old senior league softball pitcher. Lanny is the fastest individual from the waist up, I have ever played with as I have seen him shag a hard hit line drive back to him without even moving a foot, which is increasing harder for him each year. BUT bottom line is that Lanny plays and lives by rules that are reflected in these kinds of stories and is admired but our entire league for what he is and does.
    Unless you tell me I should not, I would like to share this and provide credit to you, on my LinkedIn account and via email to associates. Please let me know if I have your permission to do so. Thanks in advance.

    • Chris Sperry
      Chris Sperry says:
      March 17, 2016 Reply

      Thanks, Jim. Man, I wish I could watch Lanny play! What an inspiration.

  • Sam Lagana, Associate Vice Chancellor - Pepperdine says:
    March 17, 2016 Reply

    Prior to coaching at Cal Poly Pomona, Coach John Scolinos was a coach at his own alma mater – Pepperdine!
    We have a scholarship named in his honor to this day awarded to the most outstanding citizen baseball player on the team!

    • Chris Sperry
      Chris Sperry says:
      March 17, 2016 Reply

      Yes, and a plaque that honors Coach Scolinos located on the first base side of your stadium. I saw it many times while serving as a coach in the WCC. Thanks for reading, Sam.

  • Michael Morris says:
    March 18, 2016 Reply

    Great article. Thanks for introducing me to this brilliant man.

    • Chris Sperry
      Chris Sperry says:
      March 18, 2016 Reply

      He was a cut above, Michael. Thanks for reading.

  • Nick Curry says:
    March 18, 2016 Reply

    I have not only read this to my 11 year old son but i am going to tell this story to a command staff of law enforcement officers as well. Thanks for the life lesson coach!!!

  • Ed Antak says:
    March 22, 2016 Reply

    I played for coach Scolinos at Pepperdine from 1952 to 1955. Thank you for this story. John, we called him John, coached baseball, football, and taught classes at Pepperdine. During Christmas vacation he delivered mail. He truly was one of God’s great men.

    • Chris Sperry
      Chris Sperry says:
      March 23, 2016 Reply

      Thanks for sharing, Mr. Antak. A special man indeed.

  • Alex Razo says:
    March 23, 2016 Reply

    Shared the article with my 25 year old son who had an outstanding high school, junior college and DI college career as pitcher and even played two years in the minors with the Brewers. His response was “Great article” and you and mom raised us right. (Us being his 27 old sister). She has a Master Degree in Social Work from the University of Illinois. My son received his degree from Illinois State University. This article just confirmed everything I have tried to do as a father, coach, and an educator for the last 31 years.

  • Jody Kyzar says:
    March 23, 2016 Reply

    I was there… My first ABCA convention as a young high school coach. The most awesome presentation/speech I have ever heard. Thanks Coach S.

    • Chris Sperry
      Chris Sperry says:
      March 23, 2016 Reply

      Thanks for reading, Jody. It was a special day.

      • Andrew meyer says:
        March 24, 2016 Reply

        I’m only 14. And on an elite baseball team. And that right there was an amazing speech that touched me and my mom when I read it to her. Coach scolina must have been an maxing coach. That speech explained what I’m going through with my older brother and his drug use.

        • Chris Sperry
          Chris Sperry says:
          March 24, 2016 Reply

          No matter what level at which you play, Andrew, the lessons we can take from the game are far greater and can apply to every area of our lives. I’m so sorry to hear about your brother and hope he can get the help he needs. It can be very hard to keep our friends and family at 17 inches, which is why we don’t so much of the time. Work at it, young man. Thanks for reading and sharing.

  • Derk Izatt says:
    March 24, 2016 Reply

    Having a Love for the game, I thank you for sharing the lessons learned that day. Although not a coach the principles ring true,and will benefit my family and I as we try and keep it at 17 inches. “Fantastic Lesson”. What an opportunity it must have been to have met Coach Scolinos, I also find it interesting that his “Win Loss” record wasn’t mentioned from his players but rather what they have learned to apply in their daily lives. Truly a Great Teacher. Thanks for sharing.

    • Chris Sperry
      Chris Sperry says:
      March 24, 2016 Reply

      Thanks for reading, Derk. One need not be a baseball person to learn this important lesson. He was an amazing coach, and an even better person, from what I understand.

  • Julie Gardner says:
    March 25, 2016 Reply

    As education is evolving, this is an important lesson to remember. I’m not a baseball coach, though I am a fan of the game, and I wouldn’t have gotten to hear this message without you sharing it. Thank you!

  • Mike Kranack says:
    March 25, 2016 Reply

    I came across this through a random Facebook share and had to find the original source. Great read and great story. Thank you for sharing.

  • Les Davis says:
    March 27, 2016 Reply

    Great story! Another great lesson learned in sports from those who play and coach the game.

  • Dennis Mamatz says:
    March 27, 2016 Reply

    A wise man delivered a simple message that we should all live by. I’ve been to those conventions but missed that year. His wisdom lives on.

  • Christin Wolff says:
    March 30, 2016 Reply

    Chris – I too want to thank you for your article and for keeping the legacy of Coach Scolinos alive and well. He was a remarkable man and influenced countless students as Cal Poly. I was in his First Aid class the first quarter of my freshman year. The class should have been titled, “Life 101.” He taught us so much more than First Aid! He genuinely loved us and never missed an opportunity to show it. At least once a week he brought in trays of fresh fruit cut up into bite sized pieces that his wife would prepare for us. He made sure every student took a piece because he knew most college students didn’t eat breakfast, or if they did it wasn’t very healthy. He would make us recite every Friday before we left class, “the five most important words” which were: SURROUND YOURSELF WITH GOOD PEOPLE.He was an incredible man of God, who knew how to coach, low to love, how lead, and how to mentor. I was so blessed to call him Coach and to have been mentored by him throughout my college career. Thank you for sharing your experience with him.

    • Chris Sperry
      Chris Sperry says:
      March 31, 2016 Reply

      Thanks, Chris, for posting. Coach’s advice is worthy of “life” credit in any educational setting. You were one of the lucky ones.

  • Kevin Kronforst (Kronny) says:
    April 2, 2016 Reply

    WOW! What a great story about a great man. I take it that the Coach didn’t believe in the participation trophys? I had the pleasure of coaching a MN little league team for 5 years. I wish I had this story back then. I will definitely share this with all 5 of my adult children to share with future grand children and friends. You were definitely one of the lucky ones to get this message first hand. Great story and thank you for sharing!

    • Chris Sperry
      Chris Sperry says:
      April 4, 2016 Reply

      Thanks, Kevin. It was a powerful message I was fortunate to hear firsthand.

  • Nancy E. Williams says:
    April 4, 2016 Reply

    Thanks, Chris. As a businesswoman, this story touched me in a profound way in an area where I have been struggling. I have prayed long and hard asking God to show me the answer, He just did via this story! Thank you! This is an awesome values teaching.

    • Chris Sperry
      Chris Sperry says:
      April 4, 2016 Reply

      Nancy, the business world provides many opportunities that test one’s values and to stretch the rules at the expense of others and our own personal character. Coach Scolinos’s message, and my humble attempt to share it, remind us that we ALL have boundaries in our lives. You sought help from the right source. The fact that his response came to you in the form of something I wrote is humbling. Thank you for sharing.

  • Trice Luker says:
    April 5, 2016 Reply

    Thanks for sharing, Coach. I shared this with both my baseball and football teams. Great message.

  • Clark Inglet says:
    April 11, 2016 Reply

    A friend shared this with me and I’m so very happy to have received it. Even though I have never heard of Coach Scolino or his message, his message is very profound. It is even more amazing that it came at a time in my life when I was searching for answers to questions I had and there were the answers I needed. I am going to share this with my son who is just starting baseball with his son. I would like to have had this when I coached Little League and above 30 years ago. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • Zayne Ulrich says:
    April 11, 2016 Reply

    Great Message. Read this in an email and had to find out who authored it.

  • K Wiley says:
    April 14, 2016 Reply

    Not sure how I stumbled upon this fb link, but am glad I did.
    Striving to be an outstanding, humble and authentic mentor and role model for young people is definitely life’s highest and best calling. Glad you have found a way to continue to do just that. Cheers!

    • Chris Sperry
      Chris Sperry says:
      April 14, 2016 Reply

      Thanks, Kim. Kind words. I appreciate you reading and hope you are well.

  • Dale Henry says:
    April 17, 2016 Reply

    Coach Scolinos was the Man! He would tell you, NO I’m just a man. I was very fortunate to work at CPP in the early 80’s on Roman Gabriel’s football staff. When they dropped the FB program for financial reasons there was a meeting to reallocate the $$$$. Scolinos stood and proclaimed that this was “blood” money and he wanted no part of it; then walked out. BTW Gabriel was from the same cloth. Thank you very much for the article and the chance to remember real lessons. Dale Henry HS coach. San Diego

    • Chris Sperry
      Chris Sperry says:
      April 21, 2016 Reply

      Thanks for sharing, Dale. Good to know Roman was a good man also.

  • Michael Mason says:
    April 19, 2016 Reply

    Chris,
    Thank you for this–It is interesting that he saw this 20 years ago and unfortunately now our whole society is suffering from changing the size of the plate–this lesson applies to so much in our lives these days. I would vote for Coach Scolinos for President if he was here.

    • Chris Sperry
      Chris Sperry says:
      April 21, 2016 Reply

      I agree with you, Michael. Our government widens the plate more than most.

  • Nancy Volak says:
    April 20, 2016 Reply

    A friend just forwarded this to me. Since I live in the Czech Republic she knew I may not come across it. So glad she did. What a perfect message for our times. On the bright side, I just found out that baseball is not only coming to the Czech Republic, but is here and I am in the process of obtaining tickets to a game. I can’t wait!!

    • Chris Sperry
      Chris Sperry says:
      April 21, 2016 Reply

      Thank you, Nancy. It was an important message. Glad you are seeing a game!

  • Ivan says:
    April 20, 2016 Reply

    We have added a few paragraphs to BroncoAthletics.com and then directed our readers to your blog! Thanks for the great story!

    • Chris Sperry
      Chris Sperry says:
      April 21, 2016 Reply

      Beautiful! Thanks for including on your page.

  • Phil Barter says:
    April 25, 2016 Reply

    What a tremendous article. The problem today is that too many parents should never have had children, because they were not able to be good coaches everyday. As a parent you have to be a forward thinker and say to your self ” What are my children going to be like when they get to be 21 years of age”. You have to set a good example and be willing to always be a good coach. I asked my two boys to strive towards being self sufficient and to always be a good person.

    • Chris Sperry
      Chris Sperry says:
      April 26, 2016 Reply

      We’d do well to get our kids to that point, Phil. Thanks for sharing.

  • Dennis Nespor says:
    April 28, 2016 Reply

    Played for coach. Luckiest man in the world!

    • Dennis Nespor says:
      April 28, 2016 Reply

      I meant to say, I AM the luckiest man.

  • tim kies says:
    April 29, 2016 Reply

    I ran across this on the Backwoods Home website. I was impressed with the message, of course, who won’t be. I was also very impressed with the writer of this article. You are one of the best writers I have run across in quite some time. Great work, wonderful piece, and just thank you for bringing it to us all. I predict that you will have a number of people finding their way here from Backwoods Home Magazine to thank you. I also am posting this to facebook, with your name, of course, as I am that moved by the message. Thank you , again, for a powerful work that is needed now more than ever.

  • David Batista. says:
    April 29, 2016 Reply

    Chris. I played for “Coach” for three years in the 1980’s. He was truly a man serving God first. He touched many lives beyond the field. He was amazing in giving hope to all the students he taught in the classroom. When I feel discouraged I remember his words. Those who loved him like me should Pen a book of his lessons. You my friend, heard him once those of us who heard him a hundred times need to share those stories as you have here, it could prevent darkness.

  • Pastor Rick Thompson says:
    May 7, 2016 Reply

    Great story. Great message. Going to use this story on Sunday, as a sermon illustration, to illustrate teaching, living, and abiding by the word of God in our churches. Thanks for sharing. God bless!

  • Laura Medrano says:
    May 18, 2016 Reply

    Absolutely love this article. Have shared it with multiple science teacher friends of mine and the whole concept translates perfectly despite the sports talk. LOVE LOVE LOVE

    • Chris Sperry
      Chris Sperry says:
      May 19, 2016 Reply

      It would be hard to find anyone, or any area of their lives to which Coach Scolinos’s message does not apply.

  • Steve Howard says:
    May 19, 2016 Reply

    This is one of the best articles I’ve ever read and I wanted to than you for writing it. In a world filled with people willing to compromise on just about everything, it is nice to get a reminder of why that is a bad idea from a man who spent his life teaching young people about the importance of standing for something.

  • Jim Garner says:
    July 16, 2016 Reply

    Thanks for sharing this. A great object lesson probably applicable for a sermon or speech I could offer in the future. However, I did have one thought about the coaches speech. While I understood the intention (as I assume most folks would be able to) it occurred to me that while the plate has remained 17 inches, the strike zone keeps changing — not to mention the difference in umpire interpretation, AL/NL and individual as well. Thus, to some degree adaptation above the 17 inches (literally) may be required/expected.

    • Chris Sperry
      Chris Sperry says:
      July 17, 2016 Reply

      We all have our own 17 inches, Jim. As a man of faith, Coach Scolinos was guided by the Bible, which certainly leaves room for interpretation, and the Ten Commandments, which I think is pretty clear. My take-away so many years ago was that we should neither be required nor expected to change the standards that we know to be right and true … for anyone. You are correct, the strike zone seems to keep changing. That’s not right. It has always been clearly defined. However, even as we observe the increasing threat of technology in baseball, the game is currently officiated by umpires who, by the very condition of being human, sometimes get it wrong. Umpires should not be allowed to redefine rules that are clearly stated, like the strike zone. The fact that they are human means that they will sometimes make mistakes, that they will not see things as they really were. That I can handle. And expect.

  • Donald MacDonald says:
    August 26, 2016 Reply

    I received this from a friend and it made me want to reply. I was in the food industry and entered that profession at the very bottom and worked my way up thru management and eventually purchased my own super market ! My oldest Brother was a coach and had the label put on him by a Brother between the two of us when we were very young playing sand lot baseball and football . He my oldest Brother became a high school coach and he was good, teaching more than the game ! For me I was delivered in the up stairs living quarters and my parents had a small grocery store downstairs very close to the Pan Handle by Golden Gate park in San Francisco . So I was destined to become a grocer as my Brother was to become a coach ! Today he is 94 living in Fort Bragg, CA , where he started his coaching and teaching job after graduating from San Francisco state college. So in my 87 years 60 of those in the grocery business, with a little interruption in the late forties I did some coaching of a little different goal in mind ! I hope you receive this Chris, andThanks for posting such a great message.

    • Chris Sperry
      Chris Sperry says:
      August 31, 2016 Reply

      Thank you, Mr. MacDonald, for commenting. You and your family have much to be proud of, as you and your brothers served your communities in important ways. Thanks for sharing.

  • essay-zone.com says:
    September 9, 2016 Reply

    Stay at 17 inches. What Baseball teaches about Life. This may be one of the greatest speeches ever delivered.

  • Chris Sperry
    Chris Sperry says:
    March 29, 2016 Reply

    Thanks for sharing, and for providing credit.

  • Chris Sperry
    Chris Sperry says:
    April 15, 2016 Reply

    Thank you for sharing appropriately. Chris Sperry and Baseball/Life.

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