How to build heroes
Off The Wall
Somewhere in my belongings I have a baseball card of Mel Roberts.
Yesterday, I got to talk to Roberts about one of my all-time favorite baseball players, Willie Stargell.
I loved ‘Pops’ Stargell the way kids today may love Jeff Francoeur or Albert Pujols.
I met Francoeur, too. Nice guy.
Francoeur and I share home*towns — we’re both from Lilburn, Georgia. Francoeur went to Parkview High; I went to Berkmar. Think East vs.
Central and you understand.
I graduated two years after Francoeur was born.
Where was I, oh yeah, Stargell.
‘Pops’ was my hero. Stargell came to the plate with that dis*tinctive pre-swing ritual and then drove baseballs into the now-thinning ozone layer.
Kids need heroes. It is such a cliché that it seems ridiculous to write it but there is great truth and need in it today — maybe more than ever before.
Francoeur will receive more ‘Baseball Tonight’ air-time for his monster shot homers and the kids who ‘played ball’ with Francoeur, on Saturday, have memories they will never forget.
But we have two heroes right here they can reach and touch.
Randy Ingle may very well be one of the best this county has ever or will ever produce.
Ingle has spent untold thou*sands on advertising and every*thing else it takes to produce Winter Ball. It is money that pays itself back in unusual ways.
It pays itself back with Todd Coffey.
I can almost picture a young Coffey sitting on the floor of Cool Springs Gym. I can certainly pic*ture him now.
Coffey, held a sleepover at his house for 16 six-year olds on Friday, got roughly two hours sleep and then put in five hours at Winter Ball and followed that with three hours at Brian White’s Winter Skills Camp at Chase High.
One of my favorite moments on Saturday at Winter Ball came when a young woman stopped by the gym looking to meet Francoeur.
Ric Adair, a Texas Rangers coach, looked at Coffey and quipped, ‘ They don’t want to meet you?’ Without missing a beat, Coffey responded, ‘ They can see me at the Wal-Mart.’ Though it was meant as a light*hearted moment it says a lot about the heroes we have in our own backyard.
Ingle and Coffey are here. They are amongst us, they work for us and they represent us.
They are my new heroes.
Heroes always need sidekicks and I hope that someone will contact Ingle and help him to strengthen Winter Ball.
We have many large companies here in Rutherford County and sponsorship in Winter Ball would go a long way to making it bigger and better than ever.
Ingle would never ask for help, but I will.
For all the good Ingle and Coffey are doing — we can all help them do more.
It is a gift that keeps on giving.
Thank you, Randy and Todd.
And you too Francoeur — even though you are a Panther.
Feels good to be wrong: I have never been so happy to be wrong as I was on the N. C. State coaching vacancy.