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I received this today from a man I know. With his encouragement, I am sharing this with you.

**********************

You will never think of home plate the same way again.

In Nashville, TN, during the first week of January, 1996, more than 4,000 baseball coaches descended upon the Opryland Hotel for the 52nd annual ABCA convention.

While I waited in line to register with the hotel staff, I heard other veteran coaches rumbling about the lineup of speakers scheduled to present during the weekend. One name, in particular, kept resurfacing, always with the same sentiment - "John Scolinos is here? Oh man, worth every penny of my airfare."

Who the hell is John Scolinos, I wondered. No matter, I was happy just to be here.

In 1996, Coach Scolinos was 78 years old and five years retired from a college coaching career that began in 1948. He shuffled to the stage to an impressive standing ovation, wearing dark polyester pants, a light blue shirt, and a string around his neck from which home plate hung - a full-sized, stark-white home plate.

Seriously, I wondered, who is this guy?

After speaking for twenty five minutes, not once mentioning the prop hanging around his neck, Coach Scolinos appeared to notice the snickering among the coaches. Even those who knew Coach Scolinos had to wonder exactly where he was going with this, or if he had simply forgotten about home plate since he'd gotten on stage.

Then finally.....

"You're probably all wondering why I'm wearing home plate around my neck. Or maybe you think I escaped from Camarillo State Hospital," he said, his voice growling irascible. I laughed along with the others, acknowledging the possibility. "No," he continued, "I may be old, but I'm not crazy, The reason I stand before you today is to share with you baseball people what I've learned in my life, what I've learned about home plate in my 78 years."

Several hands went up when Scolios asked how many Little League coaches were in the room. "Do you know how wide home plate is in Little League?"

After a pause, someone offered, "Seventeen inches?" more of a question than an answer.

"That's right," he said. "How about in Babe Ruth's day? Any Babe Ruth coaches in the house?"

Another long pause.

"Seventeen inches?" came a guess from a reluctant coach.

"That's right," said Scolinos. "Now, how many high school coaches do we have in the room?" Hundreds of hands shot up, as the pattern began to appear.

"How wide is home plate in high school baseball?"

"Seventeen inches," they said, sounding more confident.

"You're right!" Scolinos barked. "And you college coaches, how wide is home plate in college?"

"Seventeen inches!" we said, in unison.

"Any minor league coaches here? How wide is home plate in pro ball?"

"Seventeen inches!"

"RIGHT! And in the Major Leagues, how wide is home plate in the Major Leagues?"

"Seventeen inches!"

"SEV-EN-TEEN INCHES!" he confirmed, his voice bellowing off the walls. "And what do they do when a Big League pitcher can't throw the ball over seventeen inches?" Pause. "They send him to Pocatello!" he hollered, drawing a raucous laughter.

"What they don't do is this: they don't say, 'Ah, that's okay, Jimmy. You can't hit a seventeen inch target? We'll make it eighteen inches, or nineteen inches. We'll make it twenty inches so you have a better chance of hitting it. If you can't hit that, let us know and we can make it wider still, say twenty-five inches.'"

Pause.

"Coaches....."

Pause.

"....what do we do when our best player shows up late to practice? When our team rules forbid facial hair and a guy shows up unshaven? What if he gets caught drinking? Do we hold him accountable? Or do we change the rules to fit him? Do we widen home plate?"

The chuckles gradually faded as four thousand coaches grew quiet, the fog lifting as the old coach's message began to unfold. He turned the plate toward himself and, using a Sharpie, began to draw something. When he turned it toward the crowd, point up, a house was revealed, complete with a freshly drawn door and two windows. "This is the problem in our homes today. With our marriages, with the way we parent our kids. With our discipline. We don't teach accountability to our kids, and there is no consequence for failing to meet standards. We simply widen the plate!"

Pause.

Then, to the point at the top of the house he added a small American Flag.

"This is the problem in our schools today. The quality of our education is going downhill fast and teachers have been stripped of the tools they need to be successful, and to educate and discipline our young people. We are allowing others to widen our home plates! Where is that getting us?"

Silence.

He replaced the flag with a Cross.

"And this is the problem in the Church where powerful people in positions of authority have taken advantage of young children, only to have such an atrocity swept under the rug for years. Our church leaders are widening home plate for themselves! And we allow it."

"And the same is true with our government. Our so called representatives make rules for us that don't apply to themselves. They take bribes from lobbyists and foreign countries. They no longer serve us. And we allow them to widen home plate and we see our country falling into a dark abyss while we watch."

I was amazed. At a baseball convention where I expected to learn something about curve balls and bunting and how to run better practices, I had learned something far more valuable. From an old man with home plate strung around his neck, I had learned something about life, about myself, about my own weaknesses and about my responsibilities as a leader. I had to hold myself and others accountable to that, which I knew to be right, lest our families, our faith, and our society continue down an undesirable path.

"If I am lucky," Coach Scolinos concluded, "you will remember one thing from this old coach today. It is this: if we fail to hold ourselves to a higher standard, a standard of what we know to be right; if we fail to hold our spouses and our children to these same standards; if we are unwilling or unable to provide a consequence when they do not meet the standard; and if our schools, churches and our government fail to hold themselves accountable to those they serve, there is but one thing to look forward to....."

With that, he held home plate in front of his chest, turned it around, and revealed its dark black backside. ".....dark days ahead."

Coach Scolinos died in 2009 at the age of 91, but not before touching the lives of hundreds of players and coaches.

His message was clear: "Coaches, keep your players - no matter how good they are - your own children, keep yourself, ALL, at seventeen inches.

Written by Chris Sperry....and cheerfully shared without his permission.
 

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I swear some umpires think it is 20 inches wide! I probably would have struck out less if it was.
 

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I swear some umpires think it is 20 inches wide! I probably would have struck out less if it was.
Mike, back in 2009, I retired after a 21 year career as an umpire.

I was fortunate to be calling an 18-year old American Legion State tournament one day. The Galveston Braves were playing another team.....can't remember who they were. Galveston was the home team.

First pitch of the game, to the right handed batter.....the pitcher popped the catcher's glove and the catcher never moved his mit....in the left hand batter's box! BALL!! The catcher never looked back at me.

But he said, "Blue, I didn't even have to move my glove. He nailed it!"

I smiled under my mask and replied, "You are right. But you are not the Atlanta Braves and I am not Forrest Gregg and you are not getting that pitch." (Remember back in those days Forrest Gregg was the umpire that gave the Atlanta Brave's pitchers most everything 6" outside the plate.)

Me, the catcher and the batter all laughed. It was a great game that day....we all had fun.
 

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I received this today from a man I know. With his encouragement, I am sharing this with you.

**********************

You will never think of home plate the same way again.

In Nashville, TN, during the first week of January, 1996, more than 4,000 baseball coaches descended upon the Opryland Hotel for the 52nd annual ABCA convention.

While I waited in line to register with the hotel staff, I heard other veteran coaches rumbling about the lineup of speakers scheduled to present during the weekend. One name, in particular, kept resurfacing, always with the same sentiment - "John Scolinos is here? Oh man, worth every penny of my airfare."

Who the hell is John Scolinos, I wondered. No matter, I was happy just to be here.

In 1996, Coach Scolinos was 78 years old and five years retired from a college coaching career that began in 1948. He shuffled to the stage to an impressive standing ovation, wearing dark polyester pants, a light blue shirt, and a string around his neck from which home plate hung - a full-sized, stark-white home plate.

Seriously, I wondered, who is this guy?

After speaking for twenty five minutes, not once mentioning the prop hanging around his neck, Coach Scolinos appeared to notice the snickering among the coaches. Even those who knew Coach Scolinos had to wonder exactly where he was going with this, or if he had simply forgotten about home plate since he'd gotten on stage.

Then finally.....

"You're probably all wondering why I'm wearing home plate around my neck. Or maybe you think I escaped from Camarillo State Hospital," he said, his voice growling irascible. I laughed along with the others, acknowledging the possibility. "No," he continued, "I may be old, but I'm not crazy, The reason I stand before you today is to share with you baseball people what I've learned in my life, what I've learned about home plate in my 78 years."

Several hands went up when Scolios asked how many Little League coaches were in the room. "Do you know how wide home plate is in Little League?"

After a pause, someone offered, "Seventeen inches?" more of a question than an answer.

"That's right," he said. "How about in Babe Ruth's day? Any Babe Ruth coaches in the house?"

Another long pause.

"Seventeen inches?" came a guess from a reluctant coach.

"That's right," said Scolinos. "Now, how many high school coaches do we have in the room?" Hundreds of hands shot up, as the pattern began to appear.

"How wide is home plate in high school baseball?"

"Seventeen inches," they said, sounding more confident.

"You're right!" Scolinos barked. "And you college coaches, how wide is home plate in college?"

"Seventeen inches!" we said, in unison.

"Any minor league coaches here? How wide is home plate in pro ball?"

"Seventeen inches!"

"RIGHT! And in the Major Leagues, how wide is home plate in the Major Leagues?"

"Seventeen inches!"

"SEV-EN-TEEN INCHES!" he confirmed, his voice bellowing off the walls. "And what do they do when a Big League pitcher can't throw the ball over seventeen inches?" Pause. "They send him to Pocatello!" he hollered, drawing a raucous laughter.

"What they don't do is this: they don't say, 'Ah, that's okay, Jimmy. You can't hit a seventeen inch target? We'll make it eighteen inches, or nineteen inches. We'll make it twenty inches so you have a better chance of hitting it. If you can't hit that, let us know and we can make it wider still, say twenty-five inches.'"

Pause.

"Coaches....."

Pause.

"....what do we do when our best player shows up late to practice? When our team rules forbid facial hair and a guy shows up unshaven? What if he gets caught drinking? Do we hold him accountable? Or do we change the rules to fit him? Do we widen home plate?"

The chuckles gradually faded as four thousand coaches grew quiet, the fog lifting as the old coach's message began to unfold. He turned the plate toward himself and, using a Sharpie, began to draw something. When he turned it toward the crowd, point up, a house was revealed, complete with a freshly drawn door and two windows. "This is the problem in our homes today. With our marriages, with the way we parent our kids. With our discipline. We don't teach accountability to our kids, and there is no consequence for failing to meet standards. We simply widen the plate!"

Pause.

Then, to the point at the top of the house he added a small American Flag.

"This is the problem in our schools today. The quality of our education is going downhill fast and teachers have been stripped of the tools they need to be successful, and to educate and discipline our young people. We are allowing others to widen our home plates! Where is that getting us?"

Silence.

He replaced the flag with a Cross.

"And this is the problem in the Church where powerful people in positions of authority have taken advantage of young children, only to have such an atrocity swept under the rug for years. Our church leaders are widening home plate for themselves! And we allow it."

"And the same is true with our government. Our so called representatives make rules for us that don't apply to themselves. They take bribes from lobbyists and foreign countries. They no longer serve us. And we allow them to widen home plate and we see our country falling into a dark abyss while we watch."

I was amazed. At a baseball convention where I expected to learn something about curve balls and bunting and how to run better practices, I had learned something far more valuable. From an old man with home plate strung around his neck, I had learned something about life, about myself, about my own weaknesses and about my responsibilities as a leader. I had to hold myself and others accountable to that, which I knew to be right, lest our families, our faith, and our society continue down an undesirable path.

"If I am lucky," Coach Scolinos concluded, "you will remember one thing from this old coach today. It is this: if we fail to hold ourselves to a higher standard, a standard of what we know to be right; if we fail to hold our spouses and our children to these same standards; if we are unwilling or unable to provide a consequence when they do not meet the standard; and if our schools, churches and our government fail to hold themselves accountable to those they serve, there is but one thing to look forward to....."

With that, he held home plate in front of his chest, turned it around, and revealed its dark black backside. ".....dark days ahead."

Coach Scolinos died in 2009 at the age of 91, but not before touching the lives of hundreds of players and coaches.

His message was clear: "Coaches, keep your players - no matter how good they are - your own children, keep yourself, ALL, at seventeen inches.

Written by Chris Sperry....and cheerfully shared without his permission.
Frank I believe every word coach Scolinos said in that speech. Now if we could get the rest of the country believing this we might get our country back. Thanks very much for posting this.
 

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Frank, I really like this story and would like to share it with members of my family.Can you send it to me in a WORD type document at my email address? I am not able to figure out how to capture it from this website. [email protected] please.
Enrico
 

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So true, Frank, so true....
 
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Simple but no truer words have been spoken.
 
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Frank, I really like this story and would like to share it with members of my family.Can you send it to me in a WORD type document at my email address? I am not able to figure out how to capture it from this website. [email protected] please.
Enrico
Just emailed it to you Rick.
Thanks for sharing it with your family.

Frank
 

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Frank
First off I would like to thank you for your service as an umpire. Besides the occasional incidents that could be called hazardous duty, helping young people learn that there are standards is a great service to them and our country.

Self esteem is built in young children by setting standards. The rewards of recognition and accomplishment for their achievement help children develop necessary life skills. I really feel that lacking this type of training has led to an epidemic of low self esteem. So thank you for those you helped train.
 

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I just googled to find out why home plate is 17". Home plate was originally 12" square. It was rotated to fit in the diamond field. The pitchers complained they were not getting the corners (sound familiar?) so to reduce arguments the corners were extended. The diagonals of a 12" square are 16.97 so it was rounded up to 17"
 

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Frank
First off I would like to thank you for your service as an umpire. Besides the occasional incidents that could be called hazardous duty, helping young people learn that there are standards is a great service to them and our country.

Self esteem is built in young children by setting standards. The rewards of recognition and accomplishment for their achievement help children develop necessary life skills. I really feel that lacking this type of training has led to an epidemic of low self esteem. So thank you for those you helped train.
Thanks. I really enjoyed my time on the field. I would still be doing it if I had taken better care of my back. But back surgery brought an end to my time. I stayed active training umpires for a few more years after that. I called more than 2,200 games in that 21 year span. Loved it and wish I could still do it.
 
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Copy and Paste into Word

Frank, I really like this story and would like to share it with members of my family.Can you send it to me in a WORD type document at my email address? I am not able to figure out how to capture it from this website. [email protected] please.
Enrico
Highlight all of the text (click at the begining, hold down the shift key, move the mouse down to the end, making sure the end of the text is highlighted, release the shift key), then use CTL+C to copy, open Word and use CTL+V to paste.
:cool:
 
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