The goal of every coach is to have a kid who throws with good velocity, and movement, and can disguise his pitches. We all make them pitchers and if they are left-handed we are in heaven. One year I had a kid named Devon. He could throw it a ton! speed was very high for a freshman. He made the glove pop when it hit. There is one minor skill the kid needs to be a good pitcher, accuracy. Devon was going to win a ton of games for us but after a few days of trying to turn him into a pitcher we came to a couple of conclusions. Devon could throw with velocity. Devon had good form. Devon had no idea where the ball was going. It was the last one that seemed to be troublesome. Every catcher we had was scared to death to catch him. He looks like Ricky Vaughn in the movie Major League. (Just a bit outside!)
We were playing a game at Chapparal in Parker and because we were a lower-level group and varsity was using the main field, we were playing on a softball field with a mound. It was a short porch and the wind was blowing out so everything was flying. We were getting hammered and it was frustrating. They were up by 15 runs at the end of three and were still stealing and the coach was in the third base box urging his kids to hit home runs. Things like: “Here’s your chance or This is the day to get a big one.” It was one of the most classless things I have seen in sports and he was intentionally demoralizing my kids. Between innings, I asked him to reign it in a little and all he did was get louder and more insulting. I stopped by the umpire and asked him to reign this guy in a little so that we don’t have to and the umpire just laughed and said it wasn’t his problem. Okay then! time for a pitching change.
Devon was in center field and I called him into pitch. Devon was the nicest kid and never wanted to hurt anyone. He stood out in center field and shook his head vigorously but I kept up and had to go out past second to get him. He very reluctantly came in and took the ball. He had 5 or 6 warmup pitches, none of which actually went over the plate in the strike zone. The coach is telling his guys that they are bringing in the next pitcher and this ought to be even easier. The first kid gets up and gets hit. The second kid walks on four pitches and the catcher did an amazing job to keep them from going to the backstop. Now they have guys on first and second. The third batter comes up and gets hit on the first pitch. The bases are now loaded. The fourth kid, four straight pitches for a walk. One run scored and the bases are loaded. The fifth batter gets hit. The bases are loaded and two runs have been scored. Their coach now flips out and storms the umpire telling him that my guy is throwing at his players. Finally, the umpire decides he might want to take control of the game and calls me over.
He demands to know if my kid is throwing at the other team. I said very politely, “No, he just sucks as a pitcher and I am not wasting a good arm on this mess.” I politely turn around and start back to my dugout, fully expecting to get tossed. He chose to tell the other coach to go to the dugout, shut up, and send his other coach out to coach third. The guy stomped off but complied. I then did another mound visit and took Devon out. He was the happiest guy on the field because he was so nice. Devon never pitched again and has a lifetime era of about 1000.00. Karma has a way of visiting every dugout at one time or another. We had a great rest of the season and Devon loved his role in center field.