If the coach is in uniform, you are paying too much

If the coach is in uniform, you are paying too much

Nobody managed more games in the big leagues than Connie Mack.

Mack managed the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1894 to 1896 before running the Philadelphia Athletics from 1901 to 1950. During that time, he managed a record 7,755 games.

He holds Major League records for wins with 3,731 and losses with 3,948.

Mack led the Athletics to World Series championships in 1910, 1911, 1913, 1920 and 1930, and somehow he did most of that while sitting in the dugout and wearing a suit and tie.

The baseball legend never bought into the silly thought that managers and coaches should wear the same uniform as the players.

And Mack was managing in the big leagues, not coaching a 10-U traveling baseball team.

Years ago, the great humor columnist Dave Barry wrote one of the all-time great lines.

There are 10 things a guy should never do, Barry wrote, and cheerleading is about five of them.

Barry did not say what the other five things are, but the best guess is that they all involved dressing up in full uniform to coach a baseball team filled with young boys.

Yet, right here in Montana we have coaches who do just that.

The Belgrade Bandits are more than just an outstanding American Legion Baseball team. That is also the name of a collection of youth baseball teams that are really good.

The young Bandits play the game really well from the youngest levels on up, and they are clearly receiving some top-notch coaching.

But it is hard to get over the fact that those coaches wear full baseball uniforms to lead boys as young as the 10-U division.

That is just plain silly. It is more than silly. It is flat-out weird. It is even weirder than adults wearing full uniforms to play beer-league softball.

Coaches who wear full uniforms to coach young teams like that are clearly taking themselves too seriously. They are also apparently charging way too much money to play on the team.

Along with a team hat and jerseys that include numbers and names on their backs, the Belgrade coaches wear baseball pants, pulled up high by the knee to expose their baseball socks.

It is hard to say for sure, but it looked like at least one might have been wearing cleats.

Even though the coaches are very nice guys, everybody at the tournaments in Montana snickers at them as they prance around in full uniform. Even in Helena.

Of course, that is nothing unusual in youth baseball. It happens all over the country where grown men treat youth baseball like it is a matter of life and death.

The hope was, though, that Montana was immune to such silliness.

To be fair to the Belgrade coaches, wearing a full baseball uniform to serve as a coach or manager at any level is weird.

It is weird at the Legion level, which is why Butte Miners and Muckers coaches do not even bother with jerseys. They just wear warmup shirts with their baseball pants.

Managers and coaches wearing uniforms is weird at the Major League level, too.

Why in the world does Joe Maddon have to wear a full uniform to manage the Chicago Cubs?

Hockey coaches don’t wear full uniforms. Bill Belichick does not wear a Patriots helmet under the his hoodie. Steve Kerr does not wear shorts while guiding the Golden State Warriors.

UCLA softball coach Kelly Inouye-Perez does not wear sliding socks in the dugout. Swimming coaches do not wear Speedos.

Why? Because they do not play in the game. Unless the coach or manager might get into the game at some point, he or she should not wear a full uniform.

Baseball has not seen a manager play in a game since Pete Rose played for, managed and bet on the Cincinnati Reds from 1984 to 1986.

Player-managers used to be commonplace in baseball, so it made sense for them to wear a jersey, pants, socks and spikes. If they are not going to play, then they should dress like they are not going to play.

As the story goes, baseball is the only sport in which coaches enter the field of play. Of course, those who say that never saw Steelers coach Mike Tomlin trip a player.

In baseball, the pitching coach walks out to talk to his pitcher, so he needs a uniform. The manager goes onto the field to change pitchers and argue with umpires, so he needs a uniform.

The batboy walks out to get a bat, so he needs a uniform.

Most teams now employ college-age women to patrol each foul line as “ball girls.” They, of course, wear a uniform.

Would it look silly if a manager went out to take the ball from the pitcher wearing a suit and tie? Probably. But he would not look any more silly than Belichick in his hoodie with cut-off sleeves.

Major League Baseball takes the uniform seriously, too.

During the bottom of the second inning in a 2007 game in Yankee Stadium, baseball officials ordered a security guard to take Red Sox manager Terry Francona down the tunnel to the clubhouse to make sure he was wearing his No. 47 jersey under his team fleece.

He was.

Even on hot days, Francona still wears a fleece over his uniform in Cleveland because he has had serious medical scares with blood clots, and he regularly takes blood thinners. It is crazy that MLB makes him wear a uniform top, even when the league officials know they will never see it.

In 2010, baseball tried to stop Maddon from wearing a hoodie over his jersey on cool nights. The manager protested publicly, and baseball reversed the decision when the silliness was brought to light.

“Hoodie-gate is over,” Maddon said. “I received a call today saying cooler heads had prevailed. I’m now able to wear the hoodie any time I’d like.”

Of course, Maddon was only managing the Tampa Bay Rays at the time. He was not leading something as deadly serious as a 10-U travel team.

You would think that baseball would have ended the era of managers wearing uniforms the second someone got a look at manager Tommy Lasorda. Or Lou Piniella. Or Joe Torre.

A baseball uniform leaves nothing to the imagination, and that is bad news for most guys over the age of 45.

Casey Stengel looked pretty silly wearing a Mets uniform at the age of 75. Granted, he also looked kind of silly in a Dodgers uniform at 25.

Jack McKeon looked out of place wearing a Marlins uniform at 81, and, really, Lasorda looked really bad in any uniform at any age.

Of course, all those guys take a back seat in silliness to grown men who wear full baseball uniforms to coach 10-year-old boys.

Those guys would not look a whole lot more silly if they were wearing cheerleader uniforms.

— Bill Foley, who looks better than Tommy Lasorda but not as good as Terry Francona in a baseball uniform, writes a column that appears Tuesdays on ButteSports.com. Email him at foley@buttesports.com. Follow him at twitter.com/Foles74. 1 comment

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1 Comment

  • Dave Williamson
    June 11, 2019, 3:44 pm

    Foles: Then why do you wear that stupid "B" hat everywhere?


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