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Little League® Made Kris Bryant Who He Is Today

Volume 3 | Issue 9 | October 2015 | Archive
Little League® Made Kris Bryant Who He Is Today
Mike Bryant, father of Chicago Cubs rookie standout third baseman, Kris Bryant, believes Little League® is the best developmental program on the planet. He should know – Mr. Bryant eats, sleeps, and breathes baseball. In the early 1980s, Mr. Bryant played Minor League Baseball in the Boston Red Sox organization, and as a hitting instructor, he’s credited with helping to develop Texas Rangers, Joey Gallo, and, of course, his son, Kris. Mr. Bryant recently visited with The Parent Connection to talk about his playing days in Little League, coaching Kris, and an opportunity he had in Cincinnati, which he wishes every Little League parent could experience.

The Parent Connection - Kris played for Peccole Little League in Las Vegas. Did you coach him?

Mike Bryant – I coached Kris throughout much of Little League, but decided one year not to. Instead, I wanted to step away, let him be coached by someone different, so he could learn from someone else, and also so I could watch from a distance. That was a great education, and it allowed me to help him even more. When I coached, I actually let him more or less coach himself, which may sound strange to some people. But, he was gifted enough and knew the game enough. I was a book, and he read from me when he needed it. I also let him challenge me, and he always did it the correct way. That was important to me because I wanted him to develop critical thinking.

TPC - What kind of Little Leaguer® was Kris?

MB – Most important, Kris was a great teammate. He played everywhere. He didn’t have any ego at all. Kris was the best player, but he didn’t need to play short, or third, or pitch. He learned all positions, which made him the versatile player he is today. He was always watching, observing, and learning.

TPC - Do you have a favorite memory of Kris as a Little Leaguer?

MB – There are so many. One comes to mind, though. My oldest son, Nick, had Little League practice, and the coach invited siblings to come take a few a swings. I offered to pitch. Kris, who was five at the time and playing Tee Ball, stepped in the box. First pitch, he ripped it! It was high and deep, probably going 150 feet. He was five!

TPC - Kris participated in this year’s home run derby in Cincinnati, and you pitched to him. What was that like?

MB - That was incredible! An hour before we hit the field, we were under the stadium warming up, and said to him, “Just like old times!” It was a magical moment for both of us. I made my major league debut in Cincinnati! But, the best part was pitching to my son on such a huge stage. I wish every parent could experience that.

TPC – How important was Little League in developing Kris as a player?

MB – Little League is the best developmental program on the planet. Little League made Kris who he is today. I was recently talking to a group of club ball parents. They asked for my biggest piece of advice. I told them to have their kids play Little League. Look, I believe in club ball if it’s done right, but there’s such a thing as too much baseball. There’s one club team that played 122 games in six months. That’s crazy! For pitchers, you can’t pitch that much. Major Leaguers don’t pitch that much. I’ll say it forever – Little League is the best developmental program – period.

TPC - What advice would you give to Little Leaguers?

MB – To always have fun on the field whether it’s using your bat or glove. Make the experience as fun as possible, and be sure to have a short memory for the good plays and bad. Don’t tie confidence with performance. If you do that, you’ll be on a bad roller coaster. I taught Kris that, and he’s a model for when it comes to not being too up or too down.

TPC – What advice would you give to Little League parents?

MB – To remember that less is more. The best thing you could do is sit back, and watch. Don’t coach from the stands. Let him or her play, and after the game, let them dictate the conversation. If he wants to talk about the game, that’s fine. Teach your kids to lead the league in fun, and lead the league in passion. Parents always ask me – “how do I get my kid better?” My response is always, “spend more time with him.”

TPC - Did you play Little League as a kid?

MB – I did. I played in the Colonial Little League in Acton, Massachusetts. My parents bought a house in foul territory toward left field. The house was even with the left field fence. It was the best! The scene was great. Hot dogs being grilled, tons of people. We would watch games from the porch. Balls would end up in our yard. The house only cost $29,000, but we felt like millionaires.
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The Parent Connection - October 2015 - Archive