I’ve been racking my brain about which coach was the most influential in my sports experience….all I can say is wow! I’m not sure I could pick just one. I played football and basketball as secondary sports as baseball was and always will be my first love. But man, were there a lot of great coaches that had the pleasure to coach me… I mean I had the pleasure to play for!….lol. All of them had a profound effect not only on my playing days but on my life as well. Men like Paul Serra, Jeff Hartman, Ray Fisher, Rollie Hudac, and Dennis Turkall, and Rick Brown my high school coaches …who taught me the benefits of working hard and attention to details. Who taught that if you want to be the best you’ve got to challenge the best not only on the field but inside yourself!
In college, Bob Booher and Andy Dravecky …who took a chance on .270 hitter my senior year of high school and worked hard to get it fixed. My two years at Lakeland were as good a time as I have every had in my life playing ball. They restored my confidence and they made the game fun again. I only wish the injuries (first the knee during the year and then the shoulder that off-season) would have allowed me to continue playing. But they showed me the importance of a good education something that at the time I wasn’t too interested in …”I’m going pro!!”
But I would have never gotten anywhere in baseball or had nearly as much fun and success without Mr. Sam Mannello…my little league coach. If they were to set up a Mount Rushmore of Euclid Boys League coaches…he’d be one of the four (if they asked I’d add Mr. Bill Bell, Mr. Ed Hull and Mr. Bill McPeek as well.) He taught us the importance of family and how it was interwoven into baseball in a community like Euclid. He knew exactly how to deal with every personality type. He made the game fun win or lose and if you were lucky enough to have played for him you know exactly the truth i’m telling right now. Its been 36 years since I last played for him and to this day I still count many of my teammates from those years as friends including coaches two sons Dan Mannello and Christopher Mannello. Although he passed away the lesson that he taught, and how he taught them will never do so.
You hear me say how lucky I am all the time…but looking back at these men and countless others that have been such a big part of my life and the role they had in shaping me not only as a player, a coach myself, and as a person…the only word that comes to mind is: JACKPOT!!