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The Most Memorable Moments Happen on Little League® Fields

Volume 2 | Issue 8 | August 2014 | Archive

The Martin County North Little League Cubs managed by Mark Rodgers (third row center). The youngest of Mark's five children, Brian, is pictured kneeling just to the right of the trophy.
The Most Memorable Moments Happen on Little League® Fields
Some people believe I have the best job in the world.

I am an attorney, who represents professional athletes. Yes, I am a sports agent. My office is a stadium; my most important resource is the sports section of the newspaper.

In 27 years, I have represented athletes and coaches in football, baseball, basketball, golf, and auto racing. Indeed, I have been blessed to share epic achievements with my clients. There have been victories in the Super Bowl, the World Series and the College World Series. There have been BCS bowl wins and all-star games. In 2000, I negotiated the largest player contract in the history of American sport.

As good as my “day job” is, my most memorable moments in sports, however, have occurred far from big stadiums and multi-million dollar contracts. They have come on baseball fields in towns named Stuart, Palm City, Lutz and Warner Robins. These are the places where I have enjoyed my greatest days in sports – coaching my sons and daughter in Little League®.

From tee ball to senior league, I have managed every Little League team that my four sons and one daughter have played for. Collectively, I have managed 48 teams.

I began coaching Little League with one goal: I wanted my children’s first experience in team sports to be positive. Specifically, I wanted the lessons of baseball to transcend the final score and become the permanent foundation for dealing with life’s trials and tribulations. With that goal first and foremost, Little League has become far more than a collection of six-inning snap shots for my family. It has become a way of life. In our home, February 1 is tantamount to a national holiday: It is the first day of practice. The last Saturday of February is like Christmas: It is Opening Day. June 15 is also circled on the calendar: It is the day all-star teams are announced. We know those dates like we know birthdays and anniversaries.

We are committed to Little League in every way. Off the field, I have been a Little League Board member for 15 years, with 13 as vice president. My wife, Karen, has been Team Mother, and all my children have volunteered in the concession stand, on the grounds crew, and as umpires and assistant coaches.

Last summer, I was proud to have my son, Andrew, serve as my assistant coach for our Little League all-star team. An 18-year-old, Andrew was the perfect complement to my “old school” coaching. It was rewarding to listen and watch him teach the same lessons I had taught him. Thanks in large part to Andrew’s contribution, we won the Florida state Little League championship and fell just two wins short of qualifying for the Little League World Series.

While I have lost track of my win-loss record, I have not lost track of the memories. Especially poignant are the “first” memories. The first home run. The first diving catch. The first championship. I also remember the “last” moments. Especially hard are those last games. The final out of the that 12-year-old year is truly the line of demarcation between youth and adolescent. Going from 60-foot bases to 90-foot bases is a metaphorical leap from child to teenager. And for a dad coaching his child, it is that moment when you realize the indelible value of coaching. This year, that moment came too soon with my youngest son, Brian. We lost in the semi-final of the district all-star tournament, his last Little League game. After the postgame speech and handshakes, Brian walked toward me, wrapped his arms around me and, for the first time ever on a baseball field, began to weep. He melted in my arms.

I do not recall the first time I cried on a baseball field, but I will never forget the last.

Mark Rodgers is the vice-president of the Martin County (FL) North Little League where he has managed for 17 years. A sports attorney, his professional athlete clients include Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and Oakland A’s pitcher Jeff Samardzija.
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The Parent Connection - August 2014 - Archive