Coppola: For Love Of The Game

As the post season kicks into high gear in those other cities, we are left with watching from the outside. Disappointed that our teams are done for the season. Now we can only wait for the GM and his staff to begin working on how to improve the ball club.

Trades, free agents, young minor leaguers. This too is an exciting part of the game for us. There are lots of reasons why we love this game. Let me touch on one of mine. It has taken me to many places and allowed me to be a part of many interesting things. What an adventure.

From my own as a player, from when I was 8-years old, to watching big leaguers up close, playing, coaching, instructing, umpiring, scouting and now writing. Even playing in a men’s over 40 baseball league, where I learned how to throw a spit ball. Wish I had learned that when I was 20 years old.

I once umpired behind the plate for one of Marcus Stroman’s games when he was a senior at Patchogue-Medford HS on Long Island. He was so over powering that day. Everyone knew they were seeing a future big league pitcher. But one of my fondest memories was,coaching a little league team one year that could not win a game. One time having to go out to the mound to make a pitching change because my pitcher couldn’t hit a stopped tractor trailer from 45 feet.

The bases were loaded and I had no more “Pitchers”. I called my lefty first baseman over and said “Michael, get us out of the inning.” He said ‘Mr Coppola, I never pitched before.’” I told him to just play catch with the catcher and throw strikes. I get back to the bench and he throws his first pitch……..

The ball majestically soared into the evening sky on its way over the fence, settling down near the playground where some little children were playing, wondering where this baseball had come from. With that home run four runs scored giving the other team enough runs to win as it was now a 15 run lead and under the mercy rule we lost.

As Michael passed me coming off the field he said with a small smile, “Well Mr Coppola, I got us out of the inning.” Sometimes we need to see just what this game can be in our lives. It is fun to watch these incredible athletes on the big league stage. But think about how many lives it has touched in the sandlots of the past?

With the dreams of every kid that plays there are also memories, I can’t remember too many wins or losses. But I remember that day with my lefty pitcher Michael who: “Got us out of the inning.”

Editor’s Note: William Coppola just completed his 40th year in the game of baseball. He has been a coach, instructor and last week completed his third season as an associate advanced scout with the Atlanta Braves organization.

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