Kevin Cooney is
in his 17th season as head coach at Florida Atlantic University
and 21st overall. Each week, he’ll share some of the highs and lows
of running a college baseball program - one that continues to grow as a national
power. Cooney, who starred as a pitcher before taking Montclair State to a
Division III national title, has guided the Blue Wave to a 226-89 record and four NCAA Regionals the past five years. His 1999 squad won 34 straight games, tying
the NCAA mark set by Texas in 1977.
June 22, 2004
Happy Fathers’ Day to all
the Dads out there who let me spend time with their sons over the past 30 years.
This is a special day for all of you and your families.
I remember many of you
The relationship between
coach and father is always a tenuous one. At least I view it to be that way. The
Dad usually was the son’s first coach, out in the back yard or driveway, showing
the little guy how to throw and swing a bat. Much of the allure in baseball is
this time-honored passing from father to son of the liturgy of the game. Three
strikes and out, run to first base and stay on the bag, tag up on fly balls,
bend your knees and keep your glove down, always keep your eye on the ball and
hustle. Those principles are part of the genetic code running through baseball
It is a sacred trust to
take over for the Dad and continue the boy’s journey through the world of
baseball. Unfortunately, as the level of play gets raised, more and more sons
play less and less. The guy making the decisions regarding this fact can never
hope to please all the Dads. The coach can only do what is best for his team and
let the chips fall where they may.
I am happy to say that in
all these years of coaching, most of my relationships with Dads have been
positive ones. Oh, I’m no fool. I realize they don’t say everything they have
But that’s OK. I
Danny Olsen’s Dad taught
him the best knuckle curve I ever saw. Jimmy Fasano’s Dad taught him the
toughness that helped win a national championship. Dan Murray did everything he
could to make his sons good players for FAU. Pete McNab never stopped believing
in Tim during a few dark years. We shared tears of joy and relief in Tuscaloosa.
LJ’s Dad racked up an NCAA record in frequent flyer miles for his son’s senior
year. Gabe Somarriba’s Dad was honored by the love shown by his son. Big Jim
Blair’s memory and life lives on in his son Jeff. Shaen O’Connor’s big home run
in Tuscaloosa was dedicated to his Dad’s memory. I remember seeing Rusty’s Dad
beaming on the hill after a big home run, and again crying outside the interview
tent in the Miami Regional as the finality of his son’s career hit home. I know
how proud Jeff Fiorentino’s Dad is to see his son sign a bonus contract with the
I could do this forever.
They are all special and share a unique bond.
Just look at The Natural.
Roy Hobbs is lying in the hospital when he speaks my favorite lines: “I wish my
father could…God, I love baseball.”
My Dad passed away in ’85,
the game ball from the regional championship game buried with him. Two years
later, I was in the Division III World Series with our team holding all the
cards. We needed to win one game for the national championship. I went to Mass
that morning in Marietta praying we wouldn’t blow it.
I remember kneeling there
wishing my Dad could be there to see this day. The biggest day of my baseball
life I wanted to share with him. He and my Mom had planted this love for the
game a long time ago. Why couldn’t he be here to share in it? I knew how Roy
As Mass ended, I realized
Dad had a good view of the game.
Today, I have my kids to be
with me or call to wish a good day. I have those memories of my Dad. But this
morning, I thought how my father had been cheated of those same memories.
In 1908, my Dad was born in
Scranton, Pa. We were always told that his father died while Dad was an
infant, and his Mom married a man named Sealey. All my aunts, uncles and cousins
About 10 years ago, I
pieced together the true story.
My father couldn’t spend
any Fathers’ Day recounting happy memories of him and his Dad.
In 1908 a child whose
father didn’t marry his mother was not only deprived of his father’s last name,
but he was subjected to a shame that our society no longer assigns.
My Dad kept that secret all
his life. My mother said that he never wanted to talk about it, but he called
himself his mother’s “little bundle of joy”. The father’s name was never
mentioned, but I know it now, and wish I could ask him some questions. I
understand what he cost my father. He’s no longer alive, my “grandfather,” but I
wonder what his thoughts were every Fathers’ Day?
Happy Fathers’ Day, Dad. Thank you for my life.
The Draft, and Hard Working Assistants (6/11/04)
Ebb Tide in the Seventh (6/7/04)
The Mann of the Moment (6/6/04)
The Wolf at the Door (6/5/04)
Land of Hope and Dreams (6/2/04)
Glory Days (5/30/04)
Blue Wave Crashes on Two to Reach A-Sun Final (5/28/04)
Seniors Rule the Day (5/27/04)
A Lefty Lift (5/26/04)
Missing the Fons (5/26/04)
Who'll Stop the Rain? (5/23/04)
The 'Badlands' of Miami (5/19/04)
A Bad Part of a Good Job (5/14/04)
Sweep Home Alabama (5/12/04)
Winless at Winthrop, but Victorious in Friendship (5/3/04)
To Bunt or Not to Bunt - That is the Question (4/27/04)
The Promised Land (4/21/04)
A Little Rusty (4/17/04)
Knock, Knock, Knockin' on Heaven's Door (4/15/04)
OB Gets CG for FAU vs. UCF (4/13/04)
The Present and the Past (4/8/04)
Held Up Without a Gun (4/5/04)
Live by the Sword, Die by the Sword (3/27/04)
Bye Bye Buckeyes...Hello Dolphins (3/26/04)
A Festive Week Ends in a Wreck (3/22/04)
Break No Day at the Beach (3/16/04)
Baseball is Boring? What are They Smoking? (3/9/04)
Hanging with LaRussa was in the Cards (3/6/04)
Winds of Change (3/1/04)
Washington's Birthday (2/23/04)
Dugout Talks and Scouting Reports (2/21/04)
Not a Happy Valentine's Day (2/16/04)
Opening Weekend (2/9/04)
Almost FAMUs (2/2/04)
FAU Living in Land of Hope and Dreams (1/28/04)
(photo courtesy of FAU Media Relations Office)