The Professor

Whitey Herzog: “George Kissell is the only man i know who can talk for 15 minutes about a ground ball.”

@Cardinals

George Kissell was a Minor League player, Minor League manager, Major League Coach, scout, Minor League instructor and Field Coordinator for the St. Louis Cardinals. Kissell spent all of his 69 years in Professional Baseball with the Cardinals. Kissell signed with the Cardinals in 1940 and in 1983 was recognized with “The King of Baseball” award. George Kissell had a B.S., a Masters in History and in Physical Education from Ithaca College.

George Kissell was a great man! He was a very warm and caring individual who was a great teacher. George Kissell knew all phases of baseball. He was very loyal and dedicated to the St. Louis Cardinals. George could have gone to the Cincinnati Reds as a coach under Sparky Anderson, but Kissell stayed with the Cardinals.

George Kissell was a mentor to players, to coaches and to managers. Joe Torre said, “George Kissell was so caring.” Jim Riggleman said, “I hung on his every word.” I spoke with George several times over the years and he could not have been nicer! When I first started broadcasting for the Indianapolis Indians, the Cincinnati Reds were our Parent team. Ron Plaza was the Field Coordinator, and he was extremely knowledgeable and terrific at his job. It is no coincidence that George Kissell was Ron’s mentor.

When the Cardinals acquired second baseman Fernando Vina, George told him there were nine different kinds of ground balls. Vina already had played for seven years in the Major Leagues. Under Kissell’s tutelage, Vina won two Gold Glove Awards for fielding excellence.

George Kissell was a credit to the game of baseball.

Advertisements
Posted in Inspirational Sports Stories | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

J. Kramer

“My whole life has been one of seeking experience.”
Jerry Kramer

Jerry Kramer was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame earlier this month. Kramer played football at the University of Idaho and was selected by the Green Bay Packers in the fourth round of the 1958 NFL Draft. Kramer played his entire NFL career (1958-1968) with the Packers. He was an All Pro on five occasions and named to the NFL All Decade team in the 1960’s.
Jerry Kramer was the Green Bay Packers right guard in an era when the Packers were all about one thing: WINNING! Kramer played on five NFL Championship teams in seven years. Those Packer teams also won the first two Super Bowls. Vince Lombardi became the Packers Head Coach in Kramer’s second year and the first thing that Lombardi changed were the players attitudes.
The Packers became one of the greatest teams in NFL History with their Championship run and Jerry Kramer was one of several outstanding players on those teams. Kramer and the Packers were known for their “power sweep” and Jerry was one of the “pulling guards.” Their motto was, “Run To Daylight.” Jerry Kramer “threw” one of the most important and well publicized “blocks” in NFL History when he paved the way for Bart Starr to score the winning touchdown on a “quarterback sneak” in the “Ice Bowl.” (1967 NFL Championship Game).
Kramer, who also was a place kicker for the Packers, wrote several books. First and foremost was, “Instant Replay.” It was really special to watch those Packer teams in the 1960’s. I had so much respect for them because of their incredible determination which was a big reason for their success. Winning Championships is a lot more than having talented players. Jerry Kramer is a great man who overcame many injuries; some were football related; others were not. He has finally gotten something he has longed deserved: enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Posted in Inspirational Sports Stories | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Charlie

“In moments of crisis, the initiative passes to those who are best prepared.”
Charlie Morton

Houston Astros pitcher Charlie Morton is 34 years-old. In 2018, Morton became an All-Star for the first time in his career. His 2018 numbers are excellent: 11 wins and 2 losses with a 2.96 ERA. Charlie Morton came into his own in 2017 in what was his 10th Major League season. He was 14-7 with a 3.62 ERA. In 2017, Charlie Morton became the first pitcher to win the both the 7th game of the League Championship Series and the 7th game of the World Series in the same season.

Charlie Morton pitched for the Indianapolis Indians in 2009 and 2010. You could see that he had the potential and the work ethic to be a fine Major League pitcher, but at that time, his self-confidence needed to improve. Morton had some success with the Pittsburgh Pirates but did not really “breakthrough” until last season with the Houston Astros. Charlie changed his approach and threw more four-seam fastballs. That increased his velocity, and he also threw more curveballs. Those changes enabled him to strike out more batters, and his results were fantastic!  I always enjoyed being around Charlie because he is a very kind and considerate person. His story is heartwarming since he did not have much success until age 33. A terrific life lesson about “hanging in there” because it can take time to reach your full potential.

 

Posted in Inspirational Sports Stories | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kerr

“I think it is imperative to follow your heart and to choose a profession you’re passionate about.”
Steve Kerr

Steve Kerr has been the head coach of the Golden State Warriors for four seasons. During this time the Warriors have won three Championships! Steve Kerr starred at the University of Arizona and then played in the NBA for 15 years with Phoenix, Cleveland, Orlando, Chicago, San Antonio, and Portland. Steve Kerr was an outstanding three-point shooter who played on five NBA Championship teams: three with the Chicago Bulls and two with the San Antonio Spurs. In his post playing days, in addition to being a coach, Kerr has been a front office executive and a broadcaster.

Steve Kerr has the “heart” of a champion and the rings to back it up! Kerr is an eight-time NBA Champion: five as a player and three as a coach. When Kerr was a teenager, his father Malcolm, who was the President of the American University of Beirut, was murdered in Lebanon. Kerr showed that he is a very “strong” person who treats people well. He has gone on to achieve so much in the game of basketball. Kerr’s players respect him because he relates very well to them. Kerr treats each player as an individual and is flexible in his approach. This enables Steve Kerr to maximize each player’s potential. He may yell at a player; however, he never will insult a player personally. Steve Kerr is less about confrontation and more about collaboration. Steve Kerr has terrific players. You must have them to win, but great coaches have an “edge and fire” to them, which Kerr possesses. Congrats to Steve Kerr and to the Warriors on winning another Championship!

Posted in Inspirational Sports Stories | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Victor

“If I continue to keep growing & make everything more consistent, I’m going to get better each year.”

Victor Oladipo
Victor Oladipo just completed his fifth NBA season. Oladipo played his college basketball at Indiana University and was the second overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. He began his pro career with Orlando; was traded to Oklahoma City and then after the 2016-2017 season was dealt to the Indiana Pacers. Oladipo is 26 years old and this past season he became an NBA All-Star for the first time.
Victor Oladipo went from a solid player to an excellent player during his first season as an Indiana Pacer. Oladipo has an incredible work ethic and his dedication to exercise and diet last off season enabled him to be leaner, faster and more explosive. When the Pacers acquired Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis for Paul George, most people felt the Pacers did not get enough in return for George. Oladipo changed their minds! He went from averaging 15 points a game with Oklahoma City to 23 points per game with Indiana, along with five rebounds and four assists a game.
Not many people expected the Indiana Pacers to make the Playoffs this past season. With Oladipo leading the way and with a wonderful team concept, the Pacers not only made the Playoffs, they took the Cleveland Cavaliers to a seventh game. Victor Oladipo also is a terrific defensive player! A team man all the way!
Will Victor Oladipo sit back and rest on his laurels? Oladipo texted his trainer, David Alexander, right after the loss to Cleveland and asked about workout plans. Someone said to Oladipo, “Take a break and enjoy life.” Oladipo responded, “This is my life!”
Posted in Inspirational Sports Stories | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Uncle Ray

“It’s not my way or the highway, it’s our way.”

Ray Searage, Pittsburgh Pirates Pitching Coach

Ray Searage pitched in the Major Leagues for the New York Mets (1981), Milwaukee Brewers (1984-86), Chicago White Sox (1986-87), and Los Angeles Dodgers (1989-90). He was a relief pitcher whose career won-loss record was 11-13 with 11 saves and a 3.50 E.R.A. 2018 marks Ray Searage’s 41st year in professional baseball as a player and a coach. He has been the Pittsburgh Pirates pitching coach since late in the 2010 season.

I got to know Ray Searage very well when he was the Indianapolis Indians pitching coach during the 2008 and 2009 seasons. He is a great guy with a “heart of gold ” who helped a number of pitchers get to the Major Leagues during his time in Indianapolis.

Late in 2010, Ray became the Pittsburgh Pirates pitching coach. Ray Searage has thrived in that role under Manager Clint Hurdle.

Not only has Ray done a terrific job with young pitchers, but he has helped to resurrect the careers of veterans like Francisco Liriano, J.A. Happ, A.J. Burnett, Edinson Volquez, Ivan Nova, Joe Blanton and others.

Ray takes into account that while each pitcher is different, he wants his staff to try to make something happen in 3 or fewer pitches and they must be able to command the fastball.

Great coaches seek first to understand then to be understood. Ray Searage is a very understanding man who instills confidence in his pitchers.

Ray Searage: One of the best coaches and one of the best people in Baseball

Posted in Inspirational Sports Stories | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Big D

“The best teams have chemistry. Good communication and they sacrifice personal glory for a common goal.”
Dave DeBusschere

Dave DeBusschere played in the NBA for 12 years (Detroit Pistons 1962-68; New York Knicks 1968-74). DeBusschere was an eight-time All-Star and was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team six straight times. DeBusschere averaged 16.1 points; 11 rebounds and 2.9 assists in his career. Dave DeBusschere was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1983, and in 1996 he was named to the NBA’s 50th Anniversary all-time team.

Dave DeBusschere was a player-coach for the Pistons for almost three seasons. Dave played professional baseball for four years; two of them with the Chicago White Sox. He gave up baseball after the 1965 season to focus on strictly on basketball.

In his post NBA playing career, Dave DeBusschere was General Manager of the Nets, Commissioner of the ABA and General Manager of the Knicks.

It was a privilege to watch Dave DeBusschere play basketball. Not only was DeBusschere a talented player, but he also was totally unselfish, a true “team man” and that added to his greatness. DeBusschere played hard, had a good outside shot, would drive to the basket, played tenacious defense, and was a fine rebounder. It should be mentioned that his fellow Knick teammates, Walt Frazier and Bill Bradley, also were completely unselfish. The Knicks’ Captain, Willis Reed, also was a “team guy.” With talented players and the concept of finding the “open man,” the Knicks won two Championships (1970 & 1973).

Dave DeBusschere also had the potential to be a fine Major League pitcher. His win total was in double digits in each of his two seasons with the Indianapolis Indians (1964 & 65). He gave up baseball after the 1965 season to focus on playing and coaching basketball. DeBusschere preferred the closeness and togetherness of the basketball court. He said there was a feeling of “being alone” on the mound.

Bill Bradley said Dave DeBusschere was like an older brother to him. Dave DeBusschere died much too young (age 62). He always will be remembered for what he taught us about teamwork, work ethic, and character. Dave DeBusschere was a real professional and a true champion.

Posted in Inspirational Sports Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment