Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Big league moment

I wouldn't know Dave Belisle from Cumberland, Rhode Island, if he bought me a beer and started telling me stories about Roberto Clemente.

But I'd let the man talk to my kids anytime.

This is how you do it, all you wanna-be Lombardis and Bob Knights out there, when you've got a bunch of heartbroken 12-year-olds in front of you. This is the essence of coaching, not yelling and screaming and hollering, not getting in some poor seventh-grader's grill because he missed the cutoff man for the 37th time in a row.

The caricature of the youth coach we are all familiar with, all pumped up with delusions of grandeur and full to the top with self-loathing and tough love. And we're familiar with it, unfortunately, because like all caricatures there is a home truth at its core, a real breathing human being somewhere who is its inspiration and wellspring.

But there is Dave Belisle, hundreds of him, actually, who understand proportion and the human connection that is a different kind of wellspring. There is the man who understands implicitly that there is, indeed, crying in baseball, especially when you're 12 years old and ESPN is watching and it all seems so big and loud and infinite, until of course it's not.

And here's the wonder of it: There are many, many more of him out there than there are Bobbyheads.

And thank God for it.

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