Tag Archives: parents

THEY SAY MY PAIN WILL GO AWAY

 

They say my pain will go away,

but they never knew you at all.

They never felt my heart pound

when you walked into the room.

They never saw the things you

did to help others find their way.

They say my pain will go away,

but I know those are just words.

I will hold you in my heart forever,

and try to make you proud of me.

Blessings to those who have ever lost a loved one. Make them proud of who you become and hold them in your heart forever.

Tom Tatum – Author – 2019

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PARENTS DON’T KNOW MUCH

I’m sure this happens more often than not. It certainly happened to me!

As kids, we just didn’t respect the wisdom our parents had in the decisions they made about what we could or could not do. We just wanted total freedom to do whatever or go wherever we desired.

Then we become adults and have children of our own, and suddenly, we realize how smart our parents really were—we become our parents. In today’s world, that’s a good thing!

Amazing

Tom Tatum – Author – 2016

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“HOME PLATE” – COACH JOHN SCOLINOS

My good friend (Claire S.) recently shared this wonderful article with me. It’s a powerful message about coaching, parenting, and life. Well worth reading! Enjoy the message from Coach Scolinos.

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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.

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 heck is John Scolinos, I wondered. Well, in 1996 Coach Scolinos was 78 years old and five years retired from a college coaching career that began in 1948. No matter, I was just happy to be there.

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. Pointed side down.

Seriously, I wondered, who 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 …

Homeplate 17 Inches

“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 these 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, Bobby. 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 throwing the ball over 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? What do we do if he violates curfew? What if he uses drugs? 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.

Then 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….to educate and discipline our young people. We are allowing others to widen home plate! Where is that getting us?”

“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.

(copied post – author unknown)

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Don’t widen the plate! Accountability in life is a must! Everything we do in life has consequences.

If you are interested in reading a story about a young boy learning life-lessons as he pursues his dream to play baseball, I invite you to read ON GREEN DIAMONDS: Pursuing a Dream. It’s a good story for readers from preteen to grandparents, and all coaches. Available on Amazon.com

Have a great day!

Tom Tatum – Author – 2016

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Twitter: @TomTatumAuthor  LinkedIn: TomTatum1

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SAFETY MESSAGE FOR ALL

When both of my daughters were teenagers, they felt I was too overprotective. I can’t imagine why!?! Yes, I had some simple “rules” I expected them to abide by—okay, many rules. Hmmm, maybe I was a bit overzealous in performing my fatherly duties, but I was only thinking about their safety.

It was a time in life long before cell phones existed. One of my simple rules was that anytime my daughters were traveling, they were to call home when they arrived at their destination. Back then, I thought it was a simple request; I still do! The way things are in today’s world, it’s probably even more important now for parents to make such a request.

The saga began when our older daughter, Leigh, came home from college to visit one weekend. Due to a little strife, it wasn’t one of our better weekends together. When she left late that Sunday evening, as usual, I requested that she call home when she arrived. The call was to make sure she arrived safely. I got that look—you know—the rolling of her eyes as if to say, “Gimme a break Dad! It’s only a forty-mile trip—nothing is gonna happen to me!”

I hoped Leigh’s eye-rolling gesture was right, but I had a strange feeling about this particular trip. Is there such a thing as father’s intuition? I’m not sure why I had such a feeling, but it probably had something to do with the contentious atmosphere that clouded her visit. Again, having to make a simple call didn’t seem too outlandish to me.

The trip to her dorm normally took about an hour. An hour and a half passed and she had not called. It was now dark, but I wasn’t too nervous at this point. Delays happen sometimes. When my wife called Leigh’s room, her roommate answered. She told us Leigh had not arrived yet and my anxiety began to rise. After the two-hour mark passed, she still had not arrived, and my anxiety level was now hitting the red-zone level. Where was she? Could something be wrong?

My wife and I decided to drive to the university. I feared the worst and hoped for the best. Along the way, we stopped at every ravine where a car could have left the road. I searched each area with a spotlight, hoping I wouldn’t see anything—especially her car. I never realized how many ravines there were in that forty-mile stretch. Trust me, there are bunches! One by one, each area I searched revealed nothing. We breathed a momentary sigh of relief each time, but our fear of the unknown still lingered.

We completed our search of the backroads and stopped at a gas station to call the roommate again—Leigh still had not arrived. It had been three hours since we last saw her. We continued our search on the interstate highway, checking each ravine as we continued our fearful journey. Another hour passed and still no sign of Leigh.

As we continued along the interstate, the reflections of a car’s taillights were visible on the side of the road. I eased up behind the car as my heart pounded—it was my daughter’s car!

Taillights3

I dashed to the driver’s side and there she was—scared, trembling, and crying her heart out. She jumped out of her car and gave me the tightest hug I had ever received from her. The three of us stood there speechless with tears of joy flowing like rivers. Leigh was safe and our worst fears did not come true. Praise the Lord! She told us many cars, including a patrol car, passed by but no one stopped to help.

So, what happened? Well, the car’s gas gauge indicated half full, but in fact, it was a faulty reading; the tank was empty.

Although Leigh never had the chance to make the call because of her circumstances, several positives came out of that night. First, my daughters learned the value of honoring my simple request to call us. From then on, they never failed to call us when they arrived at their destinations. Secondly, Leigh’s no-call alerted us to a possible problem, which prompted us to start searching for our lost sheep. Finally, the days of my daughters viewing me as an overprotective father seemed to vanish. I’d like to believe they actually thought I was a wise-old man, but that would probably be stretching things too far. I was grateful for Leigh’s safety and pleased that both daughters learned some valuable life-lessons from the experience that ended well.

I hope you insist that your family, friends and loved ones make a simple call letting you know when they arrive safely at their destinations. Cell phones make doing this so much easier today. It is not being overprotective to request a call. Take it from a father who knows—it’s better to receive the rolling-eyes of “how ridiculous” than it is to live with regrets for not requesting a simple call.

Matthew 18:12-14 (NIV)

What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.

Luke 15 3-6 (NIV)

Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’

Tom Tatum – Author – 2015

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YOUTH DADDY-BALL AND ME

There was a time in life about one-hundred years ago when I played youth baseball. In those days, the term “Daddy-Ball” didn’t exist—at least I never heard it used. Yes, dads actually coached teams their own children played on way back then, just as they do now. However, it seems things are a bit different today or maybe my childhood view of the world was blind compared to the way I see things as a grandfather. BTW – this article also applies to grandparents who are involved in youth sports!

In today’s world, the term Daddy-Ball tends to have a negative connotation. Why is this? Well, in some cases when a parent coaches the team their child plays on, they place their blood-kin in “star” positions whether or not the child’s skills justify such assignments. It’s hard for any parent not to do this when they tend to live their lives vicariously through their children. They want their precious ones vaulted into the bright lights of stardom. Their child bats at the top of the lineup, pitches, and/or plays shortstop—those highly coveted positions on the field. This situation also applies to any sport or activity. Sometimes the child actually deserves the “prime” position, but in many cases, they don’t. Hence, the downside of Daddy-Ball becomes evident by the buzz in the stands from parents of children who are on the outside looking in.

A downside of Daddy-Ball occurs when capable children don’t receive the playing opportunities the “chosen” ones do. They play the less-glamorous positions in youth sports or sit the bench; they don’t have the opportunities to develop their skills to be the best they can be. I’ve seen this scenario play out many times with my grandchildren in the past ten years. If you disagree, I invite you to visit a ballpark catering to youth sports and observe the action for yourself.

However, Daddy-Ball doesn’t always have to be a negative thing. Thank goodness, it’s not. Many dads out there enjoy giving ALL kids the opportunity to shine. The following true story describes how my father handled Daddy-Ball long before the term existed.

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My dad coached the baseball team I played on when I was ten-years old. However, he was always harder on me than he was the rest of my teammates—he didn’t cut me any slack. In fact, he was downright tough on me—the way it should be for kids playing today. Tough love is not easy for any parent to practice, but it is necessary sometimes. In fact, it’s actually a good thing for many reasons.

VFW TeamDadSon2

Putting my humble nature aside for a moment, I thought I was a decent player. I was a pitcher—that coveted position on youth baseball teams. Unfortunately, I allowed my “average” physical prowess to warp my mind before a game one night. It was my turn to be the starting pitcher, but I opened my big mouth and told Dad I wasn’t feeling well and didn’t want to pitch. However, that was not true—I felt fine and really did want to pitch. Yes, I had a lot of growing up to do. I was an immature kid who wanted to hear praises for my nonexistent superb-pitching skills—to hear that the team needed me to pitch in order for us to win the game. I was selfish, foolish even, and deserved what came my way.

What followed was the best thing that could have happened to me. After making my statement, my dad didn’t say a word to me—no begging, no praising, nothing! He announced the lineup for the game by calling out the batting order, citing the names and positions for the players. To the dismay of my selfish-little mind, he didn’t say my name. In fact, Dad had drawn a line through my name on the scorecard and replaced it with another boy. It was a boy who had never pitched before.

M Pitching BW1

After the first inning, I questioned Dad why I was not pitching and he unsympathetically answered, “Son, we need our best pitcher on the mound tonight. You aren’t the man for the job because you feel bad. At least that’s what you told me, so I did as you asked. Your position is to sit on the bench and cheer for the team. Support the pitcher on his first outing. You ought to be able to that regardless of how bad you feel.”

I thought, “That didn’t go as planned. I should have kept my big mouth shut about feeling bad!

Dad sat my wise-rear-end attitude on the bench—for the entire game! I didn’t play at all that night, but our team still won without me. The new pitcher did a wonderful job on the mound. I guess there’s nothing like having a little salt rubbed in an open wound to help amplify a life-lesson—a self-inflicted wound at that. Welcome to the real world Little Tommy—it’s tough out there!

BenchWarmerHat1

I’m not sure what Dad would have said to me had the team lost that game, but I feel sure this story would have a slightly different conclusion and a few additional lessons-learned. I grew up that night and learned some valuable life-lessons that have served me well. Dad’s silent method of making me think hard about what I had done was a perfect example of good Daddy-Ball and parenting. He knew I didn’t feel bad, but he got his point across in a subtle yet effective manner. Here’s what I learned the hard way.

  • Never say you feel bad when you don’t—life will pass you by in a flash.
  • Suck it up and be a bulldog when things don’t go your way.
  • Don’t be selfish—the world of “me-me” does not exist, nor should it.
  • There is always someone waiting to fill your shoes—you are not the only fish in the sea, so always give your best.
  • All kids on a team deserve an opportunity in the spotlight of prime positions.
  • Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it.
  • If you think you’re good/great at what you do, don’t seek praise; it will come your way if truly deserved.
  • Be ready to serve in any “position” you’re called upon to do, and that includes sitting on the bench to give others a chance.
  • You never know what you can do until you give it your best.

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In retrospect, my dad helped me more that night than I thought at the time—he taught me about life in the real world. For that, I am truly blessed. So, if you are a parent-coach, don’t forget the other players on your team. They deserve a chance to learn and grow their skills too. They may actually be better than your blood-kin. If not, at least you gave them a chance to rise to the occasion, and you may have helped a future shining star take the first step to the Hall of Fame.

As a coach, parent, or grandparent, we should praise a child when he/she does well, teach them how to face adversity, and be there to help when they fall down. However, be careful not to praise children for mediocre performances for you may create a little monster if you do. Learning from one’s mistakes is a good teacher since we will not always succeed in everything we do.

1 Peter 5:6-7 (KJV)

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for He careth for you.

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Finding Dad

FirstGameNoDadWPFond memories often invoke some sad ones too. My dad came to every baseball game I played from little league through American Legion. He and my mom were obviously the most loyal fans I had watching me. Mom was more of a spectator while Dad taught me everything I learned about the game. Just his presence at the ballpark was a stabilizing mental factor for me, serving as an anchor for my performance during the games.

Each time I took the mound, I looked around the fence line to see if Dad was there to watch me play. I knew he would be, but it was tough finding him sometimes because he never sat in the stands. He liked to walk around the field, perching himself in different locations, and never stayed in any one spot very long. He’d always tell me to concentrate on my game and forget about him being there or where he was.

I never listened to him though. I would look around the field every inning until I found his new location. Seeing him standing quietly by the fence gave me the self-confidence I needed to perform at my very best. It was as if we were playing a little game of hide-n-seek within the baseball game itself.

The first time I pitched without Dad watching me occurred at my first college game. It was very difficult for me. Even though I knew he wasn’t going to be there, I still searched every foot of the fence line around the field in hopes of finding him. You see, a heart attack had taken Dad away from us three months earlier at the young age of forty-five—the very number I chose to grace my uniform. The thought he would never be there to see me play baseball again was a tough reality I had to accept.

I was scared, nervous, and had more anxiety than ever before. The butterflies in my gut were about to push me to the point of feeling as though I was paralyzed from the neck down. I sat in the dugout before the game wondering how I was going to pitch that first time without Dad being there. I wanted to play—heck, I needed to play our little hide-n-seek game within the real game, but he was nowhere to be found. I felt all alone on the green diamond for the first time in my life. I finally collected myself and found enough courage to force myself to run from the dugout out to the mound for the first inning. It was the longest run in my baseball career.

It was time for me to suck it up and do exactly what Dad had taught me to do—BELIEVE IN MYSELF! With my back facing home plate, I removed my cap and looked up at a puffy, white cloud in the sky. I prayed, not for God to help me, but for Him to let Dad somehow be with me that day. I tossed the rosin bag to the ground and then faced the batter. My whole body was shaking as I toed the rubber for my first pitch in a game without Dad being there to give me that much needed confidence.

I took several deep breaths as the catcher signaled for a fastball with his index finger pointing straight down. Visions of Dad doing the same thing a million times flashed before me, causing a warm feeling to spread throughout my body. I felt an inner peace, and my self-confidence quickly grew stronger. I realized I had found Dad’s new location and felt his presence in that puffy cloud high above the field.

My anxiety seemed to vanish as I hurled my first pitch of the game and heard the umpire yell Dad’s favorite word, “Stttriiikkkeee!” It was exactly the sound I needed to hear at that critical moment in my life. From then on, I knew exactly where to find my Dad at the ballpark—he was always looking down at me with a big smile on his face, and that was all I needed.

Dad, thanks for all the things you did for me, but most of all, thank you for all the things you did WITH me…

If you are a player, I hope your parents are there supporting you the way mine did. If you are a parent, be there and cheer for your child, but let the coaches do the coaching. Your presence means more to them than you can possibly imagine.

Topic from the novel, On Green Diamonds: Pursuing a Dream.

Tom Tatum – Author – 2015

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