Kevin Cooney spent 21 seasons as head coach at Florida
Atlantic University, retiring at the end of the 2008 campaign. Cooney
compiled a record of 750-480-5 with the Owls and 888-530-10 in his
25-year career as a head coach. Cooney had 10 consecutive winning seasons at
FAU and winning campaigns in 17 of his 21 years. Cooney spent the past five seasons offering his thoughts on baseball - and other
things - for CollegeBaseballInsider.com. He will occasionally share thoughts
during this season.
Feb. 22, 2009
Moments in the Sun...
Opening Weekend of the 2009 college baseball season is
officially in the books, and for me, it was one to remember.
For the first time since 1975 I was not a participant in the
special brand of excitement felt by players and coaches across
the baseball landscape, as they begin "working on a dream"- the
pursuit of a championship season. Instead, as Friday arrived, I
was trying to unplug a clogged drain in one of the apartments,
whose renovations have occupied my time since August. A foul
smelling, dark brown liquid was spewing from under the kitchen
sink and over the new tile floor, settling in a putrid puddle
under the cabinets and in the track of the patio door.
Great career move!
My family and I left Florida in June to move to my in-law's farm
along the Tennessee River. We survived six months in a mobile
home not much larger than the first base dugout back at Florida
Atlantic, except there were no college baseball players there;
just Mary Beth, Luke and Maggie, two dogs, three cats, and the
A friend told me of an investment opportunity too good to pass
That should have been my first warning sign.
We purchased a tri-plex in Kodak, Tennessee, about two home runs
from where the Tennessee Smokies play their games. "Tri-plex"
might sound impressive, but it was a dump. Our hopes to get in
and out fast, with few problems and limited spending were dashed
quickly. Needless to say the place was a nightmare.
Recently, my partner bailed, and I am alone trying to finish the
project and get it rented. That situation became less enjoyable
as each day brought baseball season closer.
What was I thinking?
Friday was a cold day at the foot of the Smokies. I tried
calling my successor at FAU and wish him luck, but speaking with
John McCormack and knowing I was not part of the action made
things worse. I decided to get my work done for the day and get
back to our new house and my family. Maybe I'd get home in time
to walk down by the river and look for arrowheads with the kids.
Then the sink blew up my day.
I finally climbed onto the roof and tried to work the snake
through the air vent and down to the problem.
It didn't work.
As I sat there debating if I was more cold than frustrated, I
could hear music playing from the radio in the kitchen below. It
was a song by a country group called Emerson Drive called
I sat back and took a few minutes to feel sorry for myself.
In the song, a young man encounters an old homeless man as he
walks out onto a bridge. It's a bit like Jimmy Stewart in
It's A Wonderful Life, as the old man prevents the younger
from jumping. He tells him that "looking at me you might not
know it, but I had my moments...moments in the sun...moments
when I was second to none..." Each man feels he is more than
appearances would lead one to think. The young man has a
beautiful wife and much to live for despite his current
situation, and the old man was a hero in the war, and again,
that night, a hero on that bridge.
There have been times this fall when that song would pop into my
head and I would smile, thankful for my moments.
I climbed down, locked the apartments and headed back towards
But it was Opening Day, so I stopped in Knoxville and bought my
first ever ticket to a college baseball game. That seemed very,
Oregon State was in the field and Tennessee batting in the
bottom of the first as I entered Lindsey Nelson Stadium as just
another fan in jeans, dirty (OK-Smelly) work boots, and a John
Deere hat. I walked from one end of the stadium to another,
admiring the beauty of the green grass and dazzling white
uniforms from all different vantage points. It was a far
different view than from in the dugout. Different in more ways
than I'll take time to share.
But I enjoyed watching Todd Raleigh and Pat Casey compete
against each other, as I wondered what other fans used to think,
looking down at me doing the same. They sure looked
professional- did I? Their players looked like the real thing-
did mine? It was all very strange.
By the sixth I was really cold and felt the need to be with my
family. Perhaps I needed assurance that I had made the right
choice last spring. In my heart I know that I did, but at this
"moment" I felt very out of place at the ballpark.
Arriving home I knew it was about to begin again. It was 6:30
PM...the first pitch had been thrown at FAU without me. My son
Jim sent me a text, "Opening Nite... U not in dugout...weird!" I
gave my wife a hug and she told me I could now experience the
joy of watching on GameTracker!
I periodically checked on Mac and the boys as the Rams of
Fordham gave them a closer game than any coach wants in his
debut. Mac had talked about playing more "small ball", but Tom
Hatcher must not have listened. He went deep twice.
This morning, as BP played out in Boca, I sat with the kids at
Mass as the snow fell outside, hiding the mountains from view.
That was a "moment" I'm happy to have had.