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.
After speaking for twenty-five minutes, not once mentioning the prop hanging around his neck, Coach Scolinos appeared to notice the snickering among some of 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 growing 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 Scolinos 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 question than answer.
“That’s right,” he said. “How about in Babe Ruth? Any Babe Ruth coaches in the house?”
Another long pause. “Seventeen inches? “Came a guess from another 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?”
“RIGHT! And in the Major Leagues, how wide home plate is in the Major Leagues?”
“SEV-EN-TEEN INCHES!” he confirmed, his voice bellowing off the walls. “And what do they do with a Big-League pitcher who can’t throw the ball over seventeen inches?” as he Paused. “They send him to Pocatello!” he hollered, drawing 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 so we can make it wider still, say twenty-five inches.’”
“Coaches …” He said as he Paused.
” … 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 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 home plate! 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!”
I was amazed. At a baseball convention where I expected to learn something about curveballs 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 the same standards, if we are unwilling or unable to provide a consequence when they do not meet the standard; and if our schools and 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, and most of all, keep yourself at seventeen inches.”
by coach John Scolinos
My friend, The Bible, “God’s Word” has NOT changed. It’s the same Word that your Parents and Grandparents read and believed. In Luke 21:33 says, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.” You will find the same Laws, Rules and Beliefs are the same since the beginning of time.
Today there are many churches that have given into the pressures of society. They are no longer teaching the word of God. If your church agrees with societies thinking about issues such as abortion, gay marriage and more… These are RED Flags that the Bible is not being taught. You need to find a new church. You will be held accountable for the way you worship. We are warned about this in 2 Timothy 4:3, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;”. The Social Church will teach what the congregation wants to hear… and not what’s in the Word of God.
If you have been in a worldly or social church… It’s time to take action. There’s no better time than the present. It’s time to pray for God to lead you. Maybe it’s also time to get right with the Lord.
Please just take a moment right now and dedicate yourself to Christ Our Savior. All you need to do is ask the Lord to come into your life. Please… if you don’t know Christ or have fallen away, please pray… Tell God you believe His Son Jesus paid for your sins and rose again. Tell God you are sorry and want to start Living for Him. He will forgive your sins and mistakes and give you Everlasting Life with Him… and place His Spirit deep within your heart. In 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
I pray that God will truly Help and Bless you. Please… if you not growing in the church where you are, find a new church where you can be blessed and grow in Christ. If you would like for me to pray with you, please email. May God Bless and Keep!
I thank you for reading my blog. I do not claim to be any expert or affiliated with any religious organization. All I can say is that I’m affiliated with my Lord Jesus Christ. This is one man’s opinion and observation. My hope is I stirred up some thoughts for you to think about. There is one place that we can find all the answers to life. That road map is Commonly known as the Bible. If you want the answers to life all you have to do is read. If you would like me to pray with you or want to send a comment, please email me at Bob.L@magnificentpromises.com
For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16