The Little League World Series final is today 8/29 with Japan vs Hawaii. Whenever I see the game each year it reminds me of the movie “The Bad News Bears” and my own experience in Little League back when I was 11 to 13 years old.
I played for the GM Red Sox and our coach when I was 12 was Robert Nichols who would later be my Phys Ed teacher in Junior High and even later became a Findlay City Councilman – which I notice he is serving again as a councilman from the 5th Ward.
I played outfield and batted 9th because I was such a great player… NO… I stunk as a hitter. During my “career” I had 2 hits. Just 2 over three years.
Coach Nichols tried to help me be a better hitter. One day during practice he came up to me at home plate and held a ball in his hand.
“I want you to hit this ball out of my hand,” He said.
“What?” I said.
“Take your bat and hit this ball out of my hand.”
I took my stance and he held the ball on the palm of his hand.
You know where this is going, right?
I took a full power swing at the ball and the bat crashed into Coach Nichols hand completely missing the ball. He immediately started screaming words that I wouldn’t really learn until I got to Junior High. He held his hand and was in intense pain.
“Why did you do that for?” he screamed at me.
“You told me to!” I yelled back.
I so wanted to go home at that point. I figured that was it – kicked out of Little League. I slunk back to the dugout while all the other guys on the team laughed at me.
Coach Nichols paced around for a while shaking out his hand occasionally glaring at me. Then when he calmed down he came to the dug out.
“You’re right I did tell you to hit the ball out of my hand. I should have been more specific about not taking a full swing.” He said and smiled slightly
“I’m sorry…” I said.
“It doesn’t seem broken so I’ll be okay. Get out in the field for some pop fly practice.”
At the next game I hit a walk off grand slam to win the league championship all thanks to Coach Nichols… Sorry I made that last part up. Never happened. I still stunk, played outfield, and batted 9th.
What did happen was I found out I needed glasses.
Me on the GM Red Sox in 1981, year after events in this story. I still stunk.