Baseball managers are remembered for many things. Some are brilliant strategists or superb teachers of the fundamentals. Others are inspirational leaders. I may be the only manager in baseball history who will be remembered mainly for my baking.
That’s not why I started coaching baseball, of course. No, I got into it to keep my sons from suffering terminal IRFF (In Right Field Forever) syndrome, something that is as common to Little Leaguers whose parents don’t volunteer as rotator cuff surgery is to big league curveballers.
It’s not that I was a baseball know-nothing before. I learned the game from my dad, who had a deep appreciation for the cliches of the game ( “Nothing is a given,” “It’s all stats and strategy,” “On any given day ... " and when in doubt, curse the designated hitter rule). I have passed this passion along to my sons, reinforced by a substantial library of baseball poetry, prose and video (“Bull Durham” and “Major Leagues 1, II and 3").
Each spring for the last eight years, I have had this fantasy that finally I’ll be noticed for something--anything--besides my cooking, but I’m skeptical. I’ve given up on having one of my sons make training camp for the Braves or the Yankees, or on winning enough games to earn an appearance on “Oprah.” We’ll probably never even win the regionals, and I’ll probably never be coach of the year.
At this point, I’d be willing to be remembered for simply being able to pick up that humongous equipment bag by myself. Just once. Zip ‘er up, hoist it over my shoulder, wave goodbye to the umps and stroll off into the sunset. That would be sweet.
As it is, it’ll probably be another year of having the boys do the lifting. And of me doing the baking. If you can’t win, you can at least feed ‘em right.
With my sons’ teams, of course, that doesn’t mean any fancy dishes or profound flavors. We’re talking Little League baseball here. Instead, I try to fix them stuff that I know they’ll like, hopefully done a little better than they might be used to. In cooking, as in baseball, there are no small victories.
Homemade Cracker Jacks, lemonade and corn dogs. Homemade pretzels dipped in ballpark mustard. And especially chocolate chip cookies. These are the kinds of things kids want to eat.
It adds a whole new twist to “getting it over the plate.”