My last day of coaching Little League® is now only days away. The thought of it has been frequent in my mind the last few weeks and it kept me up last night. Not in bad way, but like other notable milestones in my boys’ lives, another chapter is closing.
It was more than 10 years ago that I was introduced to Long Beach (Calif.) Little League by a client and now friend. He was the League President, and needed some things repaired around the fields and in the snack shack. My oldest was barely six at the time, and Fall Ball was just starting.
My friend suggested I sign him up as it was just instructional, no pressure, and fun. I was hooked.
After coaching so many other kids before my wife and I had children, it was finally time for me to coach my own. Most every night when I got home from work he wanted play catch. No matter how bad of a day I had, or how tired I was, I could never say, “no.” We spent hours in the front yard throwing and catching the baseball.
His days in Little League were great. We did not take home the championship every year, but we had our share of wins. There are numerous memorable moments with him, and all of the boys that I coached, that I will cherish for the rest of my life. Not to mention the great friends and families we have met along the way. He is now finishing his sophomore year in high school, and I will relish each game I get to watch him play.
Each year, prior to the season, I always asked my younger son if he wanted me to manage a team. Knowing this was his final year, I wasn’t sure he wanted me too, but lucky for me, he did. It is now the last few days of the regular season and we did not get the number of wins we were hoping for, but it was another fun year with a great group of boys.
My son had a good season, but I don’t know if he will be selected to play All-Stars. It may all be over in the next few weeks.
Regardless if he makes the team, I am so very proud of him. He works hard, plays wherever he is asked to play, and gives it his all. Like his older brother, his best days on the baseball field are yet to come and I will cherish watching him grow.
But for now, I am a little bitter. Bitter in that his days on a field with 60-foot base paths are over. Bitter that the time has passed so quickly. Bitter that I won’t be the one hitting fly balls and grounders to get the team warmed up. Bitter that someone else gets to coach him next year, and enjoy the comradery of the team like only a coach can. Bitter that I won’t get to watch him sit in the stands with his buddies after a game, enjoying something from the snack shack, regardless of what team they played on.
Along with the bitterness, I am thankful. Thankful that I was able to enjoy each and every practice, game and moment we spent together. Thankful for his grace and sportsmanship, while winning or losing. Thankful for his patience with me, and all that comes with being the coach’s son.
In closing, I say thank you to my sons for allowing me to coach their baseball teams over the past 10 years. Thank you for making me a better father and person. Thank you for all of the memorable moments. And most of all, thank you for being wonderful sons. I look forward to watching them grow and become the fine men I know they’ll be.
Mathew E. Simon, Little League Dad
Long Beach, California
To find out how you can volunteer at your local Little League program, visit LittleLeague.org/Volunteer.