Monday, May 23, 2016

One Pitch Can Change Everything!

One pitch can change everything from a walk off home run in the bottom of the ninth in game seven of the World Series to keeping a young Iowa junior high school team from going to the state tournament.

Iowa, unlike its neighboring states, of Minnesota, South Dakota and Nebraska has run its baseball program in the summer. The Iowa High School Athletic Association feels it is necessary so young boys can participate in their summer months and run track in the spring if they choose so. In Iowa, I could play four sports. I played baseball in the summer, football in the fall, basketball in the winter and ran track in the spring. I only did that one year as I started going to school in Worthington and commuted with Dad who had started coaching and counseling at Worthington State Junior College in September 1968.That was in my eighth grade year. We stayed in Sibley until our house was completed in February 1969.

The first picture I want to show you is when we were getting ready to go to the 9th District Tournament Championship game to qualify for the Iowa State Tournament:

The next picture is the rundown of our game as it appeared in the Sibley Gazette:

The next picture was our practice picture and does not have all the team members at practice.

I want to show you our team of student/athletes at our practice field, which doubled as a demolition derby on weekends at the Osceola County Fairgrounds. It was an all dirt field with very little grass in the outfield. My dad was our coach, bus driver, groundskeeper and third-base coach. He had to reinstall the pitching rubber every Monday after a demolition derby that weekend and performed any other tasks deemed necessary. He is standing on the far right. He also coached the high school team.

Our loss came on one pitch in the bottom of the seventh when Mark Huisenga hit a smash up the middle and the pitcher blindly snagged, which abruptly ended our rally and our season. It was a sad ride home that day.

Baseball was fun to play and watch. I miss being able to play catch with my dad with a baseball, football or shoot baskets with him teaching and mentoring me all the way.

The regulations that govern Iowa baseball state your birthday has to come before a certain day to be eligible to play on that team. We were lucky because our three best players all have the same birthday falling into the parameters in the rulebook. Bob Wahl, Dan Pomerenke and Mark Huisenga were those players.

I built lifelong friendships with that team and still keep in touch through Facebook with a few of them, their friends, sisters, wives and other people from Sibley. We only lived in Iowa for two and one-half years; but it was an active, carefree, fun existence for a young boy in a quiet, little town in northwest Iowa in the late 60s!

I often think about what other memories we would have made if that pitcher had not made that one pitch!

Now, I get my coaching and mentoring fun by watching the Minnesota Twins and the University of Minnesota's Gophers men's basketball team. Both of them have been hard to watch lately.

As always, I look forward to your comments.




Colleen m patrick said...

Boy, I remember Iowa summer baseball only tooo well. At the slightest hint of a rain cloud the phone would start ringing off the wall as players checking to make sure practice and or game was on!? I am still in contact with friends from Sibley that now live in Arizona...sadly she is not in best of health and the dreaded dementia has struck another dear friend..Enjoyed your latest blog, Micheal!

Mike Patrick said...

Mom, I never thought of that summer as being rough on you and how you must've gotten cauliflower ear from all those phone calls! I'm certain Dad and I were easy to live with after a loss! Ha ha!

Howard Brown said...

It's nice to see these old pictures of your dad. It brings back good old memories when he was my track coach at WJC. Miss him.
Howard Brown

Celeste Rouse said...

Sounds like you have always enjoyed a huge part of your life. You were an athlete then and you are now. Your strength then was most likely portrayed through your sports...your strength now is portrayed through you spirit. I have never met a man like you Mike. So many would have crumbled by now in your just keep on going and inspiring. I am honored to say I have had the chance to hug you and converse with you and even call you my friend. I miss you but will see you again.

Mark Huisenga said...

Mike, great post, and a great time in our youth! I thoroughly enjoyed the enthusiasm and demeanor of you and your dad when you moved to town and I found out, I was one of the older guys! Never ever happened again, but I remember the day your dad told Dan, Bob and I that we beat the age deadline by 2 or 3 days, I think!
Anyway, that pitcher made one freakish play, he just reacted, but in a way, you and I have almost never seen again! Base hit wins, I had 4 singles and ripped a liner right past his throwing arm into center field! Holy cow! On his follow through, he sees the liner blazing by, and reacts with a bare hand and a baseball that took him right back to where he had started his motion! He looked in his bare hand, heard the crowd cheering! And realized he had it! It could have been lodged in his arm pit, his groin area, or inside his shirt! But he tossed it towards an umpire, shook his "oh my god, that stung like crazy" hand for a slight moment and was mobbed by teammates!
Your dad was a class act after that game, and we all knew, how close we'd come. Most all felt no one could beat us, and it happened. Your dad did his usual thing, took us to the nearest DQ for summer treats, and reminded us that we played our buts off, got beat, parents were proud and so was he! I could see that your dad had a talent for coaching way beyond pee-wee Mike, yet I was impressed by how much he loved coaching that team! Very special, thanks Mike

Mike Patrick said...

Mark, thanks for your comments. That means a lot coming from you! I hoped you would see the post! I miss Dad every day. He had a positive impact on a lot of people!

Colleen M. Patrick said...

Actually Mike, it was not a whole lot different than any other sport season except for the barrage of phone calls. Food first and then book work when you would get home. Statistics you know-rehashing the contest and planning for the next game! Your Dad never got to enraged about anything on the playing field regardless of the sport in question. Many a game I would sit QUIETLY-usually! Listening to the home crowd bitching because Coach Patrick must not care--he is just sitting there. He definitely was not a Bobby Knight character. I do believe he managed to get his points across in his low key manner. He loved COACHING to be sure.