Take me out to the Ballgame

by Joe Feuerherd

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I coached my share of terrible CYO basketball and baseball teams so I’ve got some sympathy for Michael Kman, the onetime basketball coach of Our Lady of Lourdes in Enola, PA who now faces criminal charges for trying to fix some games. Apparently Kman thought his team was not getting a fair shake from the referees so he offered them $2,500 to ensure victory.

When I coached my kids’ teams we were so bad that the refs and umpires always tilted toward us – mostly out of sympathy – though it never made any difference in the outcome. We always, or almost always, lost. In fact, it would have cost me more than $2,500, much more, to put a game in our win column.

But there was one game where this was not the case.

I was coaching my youngest son’s seventh grade baseball team and we were to play, ironically enough, Our Lady of Lourdes (this one from Bethesda, MD.)

We could beat these guys – I knew we could. You see, Lourdes was a small parish with a small school so their talent pool was quite limited. Their best pitcher, really their only pitcher, had started the previous game so under league rules was ineligible to take the mound on this fateful day.

The early spring game was to begin at 5:30 p.m. It was not yet daylight savings time, so we would lose the light by 7:30.

But Lourdes’ coach was caught in Beltway traffic. He wouldn’t arrive until at least 6:00 and then he’d have to hit infield practice to the kids, meaning the game wouldn’t begin until at least 6:15, maybe later. Which meant it would be difficult to get enough innings completed so that the game would be “official.”

What to do?

I walked up to the mothers who were minding the Lourdes Nine (and their siblings) and offered to hit infield warm-ups to our opponents. They were struck by my sportsmanship and obvious Christian charity.

We were the home team, so I had our players on the field and ready to go immediately upon the arrival, at 6:02, of the Lourdes coach.

In two years of coaching these boys, young men of great character if little talent, it was our only victory.
And it didn’t cost me a dime.

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