July 20, 2024
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July 20, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

I’ve never been into baseball. The way I see it, there’s nothing you can decide in nine innings that you can’t decide in one. So it’s kind of surprising that I somehow ended up as a coach for my seven-year-old son Daniel’s Yiddle League team.

Yiddle League is a local heimishe baseball program, just like Little League, except that the parents spend less time shouting at the coach, thank goodness. Each player gets a cap and shirt of his team’s color, generously sponsored by a local business on the condition that the shirts are plastered with its logo. Daniel’s team is sponsored by an injury lawyer, so I feel bad for whichever team is playing against them.

But then, about a week before the games started, I found out that Daniel’s team was in danger of being canceled due to the lack of any parents volunteering to be coaches.

Now the truth is that I’m not really qualified to be a coach. I can barely even coach my own kids. Most of the other totties, when their sons are at bat, stand on the sidelines and shout helpful advice, such as, “Bend your elbows!” But I don’t know about any of that stuff. I shout more practical advice, like, “Try not to get hit by the ball!”

Nevertheless, the last thing I wanted was for Daniel’s team to get canceled, because my younger son Heshy’s team wasn’t canceled, and Heshy isn’t even into baseball. I’m pretty sure he’s just in it for the shirt. But Daniel looks forward to this all year. So I volunteered to coach, so long as I didn’t have to commit to being there every single week, and it turns out that another parent had said the same thing, but he’d said it first, so I became the backup coach. Also, it turns out that backup coaching is not a very challenging position. I don’t know what I was so afraid of.


Congratulations! You’ve just been guilted into coaching Yiddle League!

Coaching is easy. All it takes is a little “can-do” spirit, a willingness to take charge, and some Advil. Also, you get a free shirt!


When you become a coach, you’re presented with a shirt that says “COACH” in big letters. You can wear it to the games, if you want to be the only coach who actually wears it, or you can save it to wear when you’re getting onto a plane so the flight attendants know where to seat you.


There’s not a lot of coaching involved. It’s not like you gather the kids into a room after the game and go over the tapes. (“Okay, Schwartzman; see what you did there? You were facing the wrong way! The game was going on behind you! Schwartzman? Okay, stop staring at the back of the room. The tapes are over here.”)

Some coaches do opt to pitch, although with this age group the kids can’t actually strike out. So pitching to this age group basically means throwing the ball very carefully and trying to bounce it off the kid’s bat. (This is not something you want to do if the opposing team’s shirts are sponsored by the injury lawyers.)

Basically, as a coach, it’s your responsibility to keep things moving. First graders are very excited about the concept of playing baseball, but if you don’t keep saying things in an encouraging manner they forget that there’s a game going on and become intent on watching the other games, whose players are, in fact, watching them, so in the end it’s a bunch of kids in the outfield staring at each other.


It turns out that even if the regular coach is there, he still needs backup, because in order to really keep the game moving, he has to be in seven places at once.

So really there needs to be seven coaches. Along with The Coach of Making Sure Things Keep Moving and The Coach of Bouncing the Ball off the Kids’ Bats, there’s:

The Coach of Standing Behind the Catcher and Actually Catching the Ball So It Can Get back to the Pitcher in a Timely Manner. I did this for one inning, and I caught most of the balls with my shins. They should have coaching pants.

The Coach of Wondering Aloud, Every Five Minutes, Why There Are No Parents Around for the Other Team, When We Barely Got a Team Together in the First Place.

The Coach of Making Sure the Kids Are Spread Out Relatively Evenly Around the Field. If there’s no fielding coach, then there will be, at some point, like four kids taking first base, because that’s where a lot of the action seems to be.

First Base Coach, who remembers to take the helmet off each batter’s head and throw it back to the guy who stands behind the catcher, who then puts it on the head of the next batter. This whole thing reminds me of foosball, where the little men technically feel like they’re playing, and are unaware that there are bigger people behind them spinning the poles.

Third Base Coach, who’s in charge of all the kids who have decided that no one is going to remember who bats next unless they form a tight line immediately behind the current batter, and that line keeps drifting across the third base line onto the field, so that anyone on their team trying to run home gets lost in a sea of kids saying, “Hey! No cutting!”

So in general, a bunch of totties step in and help, and if you want to do this too and say it’s because you’re the backup coach, no one will object. But they won’t know the difference either. Unless you’re wearing the shirt.

By Mordechai Schmutter

Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia, The Jewish Press and Aish.com, among others. He also has four books and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].

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