Baseball Hall of Famer Dave Winfield Offers Help to Parent Coaches

Jeanne Sager
5

Dave WinfieldThe Little League World Series is all over the TV giving hundreds of talented young players their due.

Sorry, kids, I can't help watching the coaches the whole time.

Especially their own kids.

It's a story that hits home for me -- my husband is in his second season as soccer coach for my daughter's team, and she puts him through his paces.

So when Baseball Hall of Famer and father of three Dave Winfield agreed to talk with The Stir about Little League and his own mom, I only hoped the former Yankees star could help us out.

Sharing stories of his late mom's support for him, Winfield obliged.

How involved have you been with Little League?

Well, I've had a son that played Little League, and I coached for many years.

What did you enjoy about coaching Little League?

I think that baseball teaches so many life lessons, and of course I played it from being a young man. The coaches in my life were instrumental in shaping who I turned out to be.

I think I filled that same role or capacity for a lot of kids over the years.

Growing up your parents were divorced -- was baseball something that helped you get through the rough times?

Absolutely. You know, times were different. Kids could go outside and play for hours, half a day or whatever on their own. We used to go to the playground and gather up our buddies and we always played baseball.

I played all the other sports, but I played baseball and found something that I loved and I was good at it and we had fun. It had a lot to do with my formation of character and setting goals and shaping who I became.

As a parent, I know it's totally different because I'd disappear for hours and my parents didn't worry. But now I can't send my daughter off like that. Do you have suggestions of ways parents can guide their kids into sports to give them that outlet?

Even my kids, they're teenagers now. They never have experienced being able to go off for half a day without telling the parents where they are. They never experienced that!

All I can say is organized sports are the savior to a lot of people, to a lot of kids. Baseball is a great family sport, community sport, team sport.

Nothing against the other sports because there are a lot of individual sports kids focus on ... but baseball is every man's sport.

All I can say is it was good for me, it was good for my community. I continue to pass the torch. But times are different, every community is different. But if baseball was there, I think it's just a very positive element.

My husband is my daughter's soccer coach, so I see the challenge of being a parent and a coach at the same time. What worked for you as both a parent and coach?

Well, after about 12 years old, they quit listening to you. Laugh.

Mine is 5 and has quit!

Laugh. Particularly in baseball, it's tough because it's a sport with a lot of setbacks. You need a lot of repetition and guiding people through the tough times.

They get tired of hearing your voice, so many times you have to hand them off to someone else.

I appreciate and respect all the parents who take the time as coaches and volunteers, spending the hours, the days, the weeks with kids. This is tough to say, but sometimes kids don't remember all of their teachers, but they remember all of their coaches their entire life. 

My hats off to the men and the women who take time to be coaches of other people's kids.

What about just showing up at your kids' games? Your mom was a very involved parent.

Dave Winfield
Dave Winfield, left, with mom Arline and brother Steve
Yup. But she just let us play the sports that we wanted. We were both in baseball, so she could go to one spot for our games. She'd carpool with someone else to ride there to get to games because we didn't have a car.

It worked out. When you say involved parent, parents weren't ... they're not like they are today. Loud, boisterous. She just supported us and always encouraged us.

Can you tell me a little bit about what you're doing for your mom these days?

I'm pleased that I had the opportunity, that Ask.com and the Susan G. Komen Foundation asked me to partner with them to be part of the team to help reach out and educate and motivate many more people to be aware of breast cancer and what they can do about it.

They have the portal or platform of Ask.com/For the Cure where people can get research and find out real, personal answers to their questions.

Each time people go there, they'll make a contribution to the cause.

How old was your mom when you lost her?

Sixty-five. Just retired, living a good life, and we didn't detect it early enough. I was playing with the Yankees, and I remember when she said I have to go to the doctor. She had a lump in her breast, and she was pretty nervous.

Then we found out it was cancer, and it was pretty advanced. And then with all my resources and connections, there was nothing I could do.

She held on for about a year and a half, and that was it.

I know she'll be smiling down. Her name was Arline. With that great smile she had, she's looking down saying give it 110 percent like I always asked you to do.

Are you a parent coach?


Images via Dave Winfield

 

Read More