The dismissal of Rutgers University basketball coach Mike Rice for using gay slurs and firing balls at his players, among other acts of stupidity, started me thinking about the coaches I had while growing up. None I can recall even remotely approached Rice’s level of old-school intimidation techniques though my teammates and I undoubtedly tempted a few of them with our mediocrity.
Take poor Mickey Lione Jr., for example. Lione, one of the most successful and respected coaches in Connecticut let alone his hometown of Stamford, had the misfortune of coaching me on two of his few exceptionally unexceptional high school baseball teams. Our two squads compiled losing records versus the other city high schools, in the county conference and, obviously, overall.
My contribution that first season was that I never played an inning. As the backup to our one bright spot, an all-county catcher named Tony Romeo, I spent the entire spring in the bullpen warming up our perpetually in-demand relief pitchers.