SARASOTA, FL - In the scorching heat of Sarasota, Fla., the Florida State Finals is coming to a close. Prospect Wire is hosting this tournament which has 104 teams and nearly 2,500 participants. A few of these talented teams have coaches who once made it to the Major Leagues.
Chet Lemon’s Juice
Chester “Chet” Lemon, the coach of Chet Lemon’s Juice, has a total of 17 years playing for the Chicago White Sox and the Detroit Tigers. The Detroit Tigers won the World Series with Lemon as the centerfielder. Lemon is no stranger to failure. After being diagnosed with Polycythemia Vera and undergoing surgery, he was forced to retire from baseball.
“Baseball is a game where you fail a lot,” said Lemon. “So you have to be really strong to keep trying.”
As every baseball team does, Lemon has kids who struggle with failure as they continue to become students of the game. Lemon appreciates that the kids listen well and follow his direction due to the experience he brings to the table. His passion truly shines through as he stands on the field directing his players. Being a professional athlete, Lemon believes his experience gives his players an edge as they progress to the next level.
One of Lemon’s top players, Tyler Danish, speaks of his experience very highly. Danish played for multiple travel teams but within 3 weeks of playing for The Juice, Danish made a verbal commitment to the University of Florida. He acknowledges that having a coach with a World Series ring gave him an ability to grow his skills in a way that he could not have done elsewhere. Danish’s favorite part of having an ex-MLB player as his coach is his passion for his team. Lemon shows his teams that they can overcome adversity through overcoming his own adversities.
“One game in particular,” Danish said, “was when coach was in the hospital getting a treatment and that night he was out at the field coaching which shows us that he cares about us more than a lot of things in life.”
Hit & Run
Midre Cummings played in MLB for 16 years as a journeyman. In the beginning, he played for the Pittsburgh Pirates for 5 years, making it the team he played for the longest. Cummings and his fellow coaches are striving to teach their players what is taught in the big leagues so some of it can be difficult for them to catch on to.
Although the kids find some aspects difficult, Cummings takes pride in his team’s accomplishments once they catch onto the harder skills. When the kids execute a play just right and understand what is going on the coaches find true gratification. Cummings’ experience has given his team an edge over others due to an increase in baseball IQ, being fundamentally sound, and most players can play almost 6 positions. While most players will not make it to The Show, Cummings expressed that he enjoys watching them play while he can.
Shane Ludlow is a player for Cummings who believe having him as a coach puts his abilities above of everyone else’s. Throughout the tournament his hitting and pitching has gotten better due to Cummings’ coaching style of teaching right from the dugout.
“Coach inspires me by pushing me to get better,” said Ludlow.
Joe Logan played for the Montreal Expos for 7 years as a pitcher and an outfielder. Even though these positions were his focus he made sure to be a well-rounded player. Parents believe that his versatility and love for the sport gives their sons a fresh way to learn the game, a way other teams don’t offer.
“You would think that more information would give them an edge,” Logan said. “But, sometimes more is not better; sometimes these kids don’t take it because they feel like it’s given to them.”
Logan knows that hard work for a win gives a team pride to build on. He wants to coach a good team but in the end his motto is: “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.”
Parents have an aspiration to make sure their kids reach their dreams. Mark Watson and Brian Hathaway’s parents expressed why they loved the Orlando Reds for their sons. The Watsons liked that he worked with the children and never gave up on them- meaning he wouldn’t hold them out of game for a mistake they made the week before. Logan also helps get the young men to college by getting them to the exposure level that they need, something every parent agreed on as a must-have in a coach.
“I like that he taught Brian even during the game,” said Hathaways’ mom. “That is something that’s not available on a high school team.”
Jimmy Osting played for Milwaukee and San Diego for 2.5 years, being forced to leave after injuring his pitching arm.
“I love helping the guys,” Osting said. “You still want to be playing but coaching guys to hopefully continue on in their career is the next best thing.”
Osting is very humble about his team and their abilities. They have a higher baseball IQ when compared to teams facing the Ostingers. Osting knows that his players’ level of ability is way beyond even his own when he was their age.
“I hope my experience can give my team an edge,” Osting said. “Some days I think is does, some days no. You just have to instill the fundamentals of the game and make sure they play the game the right way.”
The players of the Ostingers take pride in who their coach is. Chris Gauthier, pitcher, will be attending Webber International in the fall. Since Osting was a pitcher, Gauthier feels he got the help he needed that he wouldn’t have found anywhere else.
“Coach inspires me to work harder and play baseball every day,” Gauthier said.
Overall, the coaches with the high level of experience believe that their teams have an advantage over other teams. Each one said their players had a higher baseball IQ, they had a deeper passion for the sport, and they lead their players to the best atmosphere available to them.
“Baseball is like life- always evolving and changing, you have to make adjustments and move on,” Logan said.