Why the book?

Mike Matheny

I have been asked many times lately, "Why would YOU write a book?" This sounds like a very reasonable question, and my go-to answer has always included the demand from people who have read the letter that I wrote to youth sports parents who are asking for more information. As I have put more thought into this, I believe the answer is actually deeper. I think it is a courage issue.

Each of us has things we believe in, and occasionally we are called to the carpet to stand up for those beliefs. I believe my stance on youth sports is not necessarily a popular one, but I saw an opportunity to stand up for a youth sports culture that has radically changed. My original hesitations revolved around the fact that I am a relatively young father and the fear of sounding like a know-it-all. I also have to face the fact that many people are going to see that I wrote a book, and ask "what has he done in the game that would warrant him sharing his thoughts?" Others will respond with a simple, but poignant, "Mike who?" I get all that and I actually had to talk myself through these issues.

In deciding to do the project, I believe the tipping point was the sincerity of a few questions from parents who were humble enough to just ask for help. They knew I wasn't the oldest, wisest, most experienced baseball mind in the world, but they heard something that made sense and they wanted to learn more. To provide some of these parents and coaches with an alternative method for using sports as a means to help grow kids would be a privilege, and in some sense, a responsibility.

In a world where it is increasingly less popular to stand up for issues like character and integrity (let alone topics like faith), I believe our fear of criticism cannot trump the potential of making a difference. I am not so naive to believe sports can change our culture as a whole, nor do I think the ideas I have about youth sports can create wholesale change...but, how do we know if we don't have the guts to try?

Encourage is a word I have thought a lot about lately, and simply to instill or bring "courage" to someone else who is trying to do the right thing is a noble and worthwhile effort. I hope you are encouraged today to stand up for what you believe in, stare criticism in the face, and dare to do great things despite the odds and in spite of the nay sayers. You never know, your courage could change a life...change the world.

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  • From the Cardinals Museum collection, Mike Matheny's game-used R

    Mike Mathenyis an example for all catchers, his passion for this position was always intense. Their professionalism Games, consistently delivering made him a great catcher to remember in MLB. Yesterday and now very dedicated to fans .It proud that this glove is in the museum of the St. Louis Cardinals This is the glove Matheny used through most of his Major League record-setting consecutive errorless innings streak (2,043). The streak lasted 252 games and ran from August 1, 2002 through August 4, 2004. He always defended the team jersey with dedication, zeal and high level of commitment. Remember is to live again, congratulations Mike!
  • You and my Grandson are connected

    You and my Grandson are connected in three ways. First, he is a catcher at a Catholic grade school. He is a member of the Delaware, Ohio St Mary's combined 4th and 5th grade team. Wes is a very hard worker and an encouraging half of the battery, talking to the batters and helping the pitchers to stay focused. After every game it is evident he has left it all on the field. Second is me. I had the pleasure of coaching a bunch of boys at St. Pius the first year you played on the school team and I am now the assistant coach at Delaware St. Mary's. Third, you and Wes always listened(s) to the coach and would do and does what is asked. Today we travel to Mary Madeline on the Westside of Columbus. He has been asked to play for the 6th grade team. Approximately 30+ years ago, the St. Pius team played on the field and after the game we all walked to have an ice cream. Hopefully, the ice cream shop is still there. Thank you and may God continue to fill your heart.
  • Shuttle Baseball

    Your words encourage and inspire me. It is extremely hard to stand up to the cynical majority. Kudos for you taking a stand. You are my hero. The courage of your convictions can only be realized through inner salvation. Your purpose is the preservation of the innocence of a child. You are fighting a noble fight and I gladly and proudly stand with you. God bless you. Humbly speaking, please spend one minute on www.shuttlebaseball.com and discover my life mission. Imagine the plight I'm facing trying to pursue a pure idea born out of my love for my 5yr old son and his fellows.
  • Your book

    I just finished reading your book this week and it is absolutely outstanding. I too am a fan of the teachings and example of John Wooden. I however have to tell you as a guy who coached kids baseball and basketball since I was 17 years old and am now let's just say much older, I find your examples a lot to live up to. While I firmly believe in everything you say and have done, and while I like to think I have tried hard to do much of what you outlined, I am still a work in progress. But having a terrific blueprint and a good role model is extremely helpful to all of us still working at it. Thanks for sharing your ideas. I firmly believe you will have big impact on youth coaches everywhere and can only hope it becomes a best seller. On a secondary note thanks too for the work you do on behalf of local charities particularly the one I see you at most often, with Ranken Jordan. You truly have class and get "it". Best of luck for the future.
  • congrats!

    Hi Mike, Admittedly, I'm a fairweather Cards fan, meaning I generally watch near the Series, but when I do, I've appreciated your leadership. I have an additional interest in following you, in that our children attended the same school. Our daughter is now a college senior, but how she and we appreciated her Christian education. I just read your manifesto, and congratulate you upon the tenacity and dedication to put it in book form. (Being an author, myself, I know what arduous work that is). All you wrote makes great sense, and how wonderful that parents and kids have a document which encourages character, and that now the Cardinals have a coach who champions not just their success on the field, but in life. A strong character of integrity should permeate every area of life. It obviously has yours. Congratulations! Lynn Morrissey
  • standing up to the right things

    Hey Mike, great piece. I fight those battles on daily basis trying to convince my parents what youth sports is all about. That the kids health and growth as a human being is first and foremost. I only had the privilege to play at the college level and to many parents who never played a sport much less baseball seem to know it all, and many times make it seem like we know nothing. But this piece helps very much. We must stay the course and always put the kids first. And those that choose another path. Well, I wish them well. thanks for your insight I take it very much to heart
  • Part 2 of comment

    also I want you to know that you had an impact on me too. I have been hesitant on allowing Eric to play basketball. This was his very first time playing it and he had struggled but he never gave up. Your words made me think twice and I'm now a firm supporter of him and basketball. I really wish all youth parents would be able to read your book, so I can watch my son play without the negativity and yelling that goes on. I tolerate it but I'm not sure how much longer I can stay quite. They make a fool out of themselves. What goes around comes around I guess. lol! Thanks again for your words, you are a very inspiring coach and human being!
  • Your book part 1

    I am a mom of a 12 yr old boy who is participating in Jr High Sports. I just read your book and want to say thank you for putting in words the same things my husband and I believe in . You also opened my eyes to another aspect in youth sports. As my son has gotten older the coaching by other parents had gotten out of hand. My son went from loving the game of baseball to crying, angry and tempers after the games. He never showed how much the coaches had hurt him on the field. He is very passionate about baseball and it hurt us to see him be upset/ depressed about a sport he loves. At the end of the season the coaches were changing and some of the same coaches would take over this year and asked if my son Eric would play for him. Our response quietly to ourselves that there was no way we would go through a season like that again but we had no idea where he would play. As I believe everything happens for a reason. Eric was invited to try out for a 12u competitive team through our local organization The Hitting Center. They promote player development and training similar to your beliefs. The season has not started yet but so far during winter the impact they have had on Eric as a player and team member is outstanding and we are looking forward to this year. Your book just reinforces there are parents out there from the "old school of parenting."