Every time the LSU baseball team wins a big game, The Advocate posts photos of players who made amazing plays to make that win possible. While looking at one such photo recently, it occurred to me that for every photo there are one or more men out there who are beaming with pride due to their own relatively unknown contribution to the success of that particular player.
All across America, in the spring of the year, there are men and women who leave work and instead of hurrying home, they hurry to little Little League parks to volunteer their time and energy to teaching the fundamentals of the game to youngsters. They teach them about baseball, and they teach them some things about life, and occasionally one of them will develop into the kind of player who plays for a national powerhouse like LSU. When that happens, that Little League coach remains in obscurity, but he knows the contribution that he made. He didn’t get paid a million dollars a year for his contribution. In fact, he lost money. But his role was an important one.
I have lived in the same community all of my life, and I have seen men and women step up to the plate every year so that youngsters can have baseball and softball leagues. They build and maintain fields. They man the concession stands. They coach and teach the game. They make financial contributions. And when they umpire, they take verbal abuse from their friends and still remain friends (usually). Add to this the sacrifices that the parents of the children make to enable them to play.
And this will go on whether my community produces a wealth of big-time players or never produces one. Because, you see, that’s not what’s important. Those people are not about producing big-name baseball players. They are producing good citizens. They are teaching the work ethic, honesty, fair play and respect. They are setting an example of how responsible citizens are to conduct themselves. They are showing them the way to grow up and pass these things on to another generation.
And if one of them happens to have his or her photo on the front page of the sports section one day, well, that’s all right, too.
R. Glynn Kelly
retired U.S. postal worker