The following is a story from a new friend of mine. I hope his story encourages you to spread the message of the Sandlot!
I often found myself wandering into the Goodwill on Shawnee Mission Parkway looking for a furniture project, snagging a couple of work shirts, or just killing time on a Saturday morning. This particular Saturday was a rough one for me. Earlier in the week, I embarrassed myself for the second time in as many weeks, arguing with the umpire at my son's Little League game. Yep, that guy. These were not just disagreeing with the call, asking for clarity kind of discussions. These were drawing lines in the dirt similar to Billy Martin of the Yankees. These were "elevated" expressions of "you are wrong" and "you NEED to know it." These were events that brought my son to twice ride home with his mom after the game. These were also events that drove an uncomfortable wedge between my wife and myself. "I am dumbfounded," she would say. "This is not how you played the game. What are thinking ? You think this is what the boys signed up for ? And the parents ?!?" I knew she was right. Walking through the aisles, I came across a glimpse of a tattered book with the word "Sandlot" visible. "Interesting," I thought. "Keepers of the Sandlot...I wonder what this guy has to say."
Remembering the great flick, The Sandlot, I thought what a great title. If this book brings back one part of the innocence, it would be worth the read. Read it that afternoon in the garage. Your book hit me right in the layers that needed to be broken. I tore down and began the re-building of the real perspective that a COACH should carry. The next couple of weeks carried a re-commitment personally, a soulful talk with my wife, an apology email to the parents and most difficult, a personal "all down on a knee" thirty-minute apology to the team ... two coaches and twelve nine-year-olds (one being my son).
This book spawned a new period of our team. One of one hundred percent related to having fun and honoring those we are in competition with and most importantly, respecting the ones keeping us between the lines. It has been four years since that moment ... many, many games, oh the countless pitches, and the wonderful moments of the players' smiles.
My wife reminded me of all this as our team received one of the Sportsmanship Awards at 3&2's annual banquet. It humbled me instantly ... we now have a running comment in our house, that reminds us of how great memories and beautiful things can happen at small beginnings. Small beginnings ... how true. Two quarters at a thrift store ...
Thanks, Mr. Severns. Thanks for sharing your story, which changed mine. The Shockers of Shawnee are appreciative.