Discussion: Letter from Mike Matheny to Parents of Youth Baseball

Mike is a man of strong character and shares his strong ethics with the players he coaches. I agree with about 80% of what he has said in the letter to parents. I’ll give my opinion on a couple of things that I think Mike could understand.

When I was in the dirt with my players, I had very little trouble with parents. The ages of the children I was given the responsibility to train were between the ages of 12-15. Before that, I was part of a team of other coaches and worked primarily with my son Jeff.

I had a parent meeting with a handout and explained the rules similar to what Mike says about the responsibility of players and parents. My parents were directly involved with my program and were part of the success. The team needed help with fundraising and travel arrangements. We were a baseball family and with the help of my coaches and associate coaches we were a formidable group. We weren’t a test team like a lot of the travel teams in St. Louis. I had all the local guys and we won a lot and we were always able to win or compete against the selected teams.

My concern with Mike is on the subject of emotions. I can’t see a player who is a competitor who is busting his ass on the diamond can’t show emotion. I would teach my players that when you make a tag, you have to sell it. I am a great competitor and most young athletes are the same way. If there is a play at second base and the runner is definitely put out, the player not showing emotion is ridiculous! What needs to be done is for the coach to let the players show emotion, but not to show the referee arguing. Players will never argue with the referees, the player can say “I got it” and then walk away and let the coach handle the situation. That’s what the good coach is for, and he needs to approach the referee in a firm way and tell him I think you missed the call. Then smile and listen to what he says and then walk back to the bench. I think this is the perfect way to run a youth team on this topic.

In my opinion, this level of baseball is strictly about player development. I told my players and parents that I was preparing my players for high school and beyond. He wasn’t so concerned about referee calls, but more concerned about playing the game the right way. We had a play where my third baseman dove to the left of him and threw on his knees to first; the ball was on the ground but was picked up. The referee said the runner was safe. My trainers freaked out and I calmed them down real quick and told them that Ross and Brett did everything the right way. It was very good baseball!

I can’t imagine fans at a baseball game being silent and not shouting support for the players. I wouldn’t expect my parents or fans to act this way in a game. What should not be tolerated is arguing from the stands with a referee or verbally abusing the other team. When he was on the ground, he always managed the umpires and always had the respect of the men in blue. Head coaches need to understand that they are in charge of keeping their entire baseball family in check. I can’t imagine “Come on, come on, you can do it” adds more pressure to the player. I think this shows support for the player and the team. I can’t imagine being at a baseball game and not hearing the fans rooting for the players.

Mike also writes about losing respect because kids hear their parents complain about teachers or coaches. Mike goes on to say that his father taught him that Coach is always right, even when he is wrong. I do not agree with this at all, I would not want my son to be a robot, yes, a person so as not to think for himself and agree with a bad coach. I think we need more people to stand up and say what is right and what is wrong. I must say that this is one of the reasons I started this business: to improve training at all levels. I think the game of baseball should be played much better, and the reason it’s not better is because of poor preparation. I see so many mistakes at the Major League level that shouldn’t be happening. I’m talking about the little things and also the basic things that major league players need to know. I have many veterans who feel the same way I do about this issue.

Bottom line, we need baseball coaches who are hardworking, honest, responsible, and really know how to teach the game. Mike is one of those coaches and I disagree with him about the emotions of the game.

Mike Matheny letter to parents

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