Home plate has been 17 inches wide since baseball began.
Regardless if you are a baseball player in the Little Leagues, in high school, in college, or even in the Major Leagues, the one thing that never changes is the size of home plate.
And if a pitcher can’t consistently throw a ball over home plate, he doesn’t get exceptions.
For instance, you’ll never hear a baseball coach or umpire go up to a pitcher and tell them they are going to extend the plate to 20 inches…
The 17 inches is set in stone.
It’s more than a rule, it’s law.
Well, you’ve got to hear how this 78-year-old baseball coach shocked a crowd with his analogy of America and the home plate in baseball.
America’s Home Plate
In 1996, Coach Scolinos was 78 years old and five years retired from a college coaching career that began in 1948. He shuffled to the stage to an impressive standing ovation, wearing dark polyester pants, a light blue shirt,
and a string around his neck from which home plate hung — a full-sized, stark-white home plate.
Seriously, I wondered, who is this guy?
After speaking for twenty-five minutes, not once mentioning the prop hanging around his neck, Coach Scolinos appeared to notice the snickering among some of the coaches. Even those who knew Coach Scolinos had to wonder exactly where he was going with this, or if he had simply forgotten about home plate since he’d gotten on stage.
Then, finally …“You’re probably all wondering why I’m wearing home plate around my neck,” he said, his voice growing irascible. I laughed along with the others, acknowledging the possibility.
“I may be old, but I’m not crazy. The reason I stand before you today is to share with you baseball people what I’ve learned in my life, what I’ve learned about home plate in my 78 years.”
Several hands went up when Scolinos asked how many Little League coaches were in the room. “Do you know how wide home plate is in Little League?”
After a pause, someone offered, “Seventeen inches?”, more of a question than an answer.
“That’s right,” he said. “How about in Babe Ruth’s day? Any Babe Ruth coaches in the house?” Another long pause.
“Seventeen inches?” a guess from another reluctant coach.
“That’s right,” said Scolinos. “Now, how many high school coaches do we have in the room?” Hundreds of hands shot up, as the pattern began to appear. “How wide is home plate in high school baseball?”
“Seventeen inches,” they said, sounding more confident.
“You’re right!” Scolinos barked. “And you college coaches, how wide is home plate in college?”
“Seventeen inches!” we said, in unison.
“Any Minor League coaches here? How wide is home plate in pro ball?”…………“Seventeen inches!”
“RIGHT! And in the Major Leagues, how wide home plate is in the Major Leagues?
“SEV-EN-TEEN INCHES!” he confirmed, his voice bellowing off the walls.
“And what do they do with a Big League pitcher who can’t throw the ball over seventeen inches?” Pause. “They send him to Pocatello !” he hollered, drawing raucous laughter.
“What they don’t do is this: they don’t say, ‘Ah, that’s okay, Jimmy. You can’t hit a seventeen-inch target? We’ll make it eighteen inches or nineteen inches. We’ll make it twenty inches so you have a better chance of hitting it. If you can’t hit that, let us know so we can make it wider still, say twenty-five inches.’”
Pause. “Coaches…” pause, “… what do we do when our best player shows up late to practice? When our team rules forbid facial hair and a guy shows up unshaven? What if he gets caught drinking? Do we hold him accountable? Or do we change the rules to fit him? Do we widen home plate?”
The chuckles gradually faded as four thousand coaches grew quiet, the fog lifting as the old coach’s message began to unfold.
He turned the plate toward himself and, using a Sharpie, began to draw something. When he turned it toward the crowd, point up, a house was revealed, complete with a freshly drawn door and two windows.
“This is the problem in our homes today. With our marriages, with the way we parent our kids. With our discipline. We don’t teach accountability to our kids, and there is no consequence for failing to meet standards. We widen the plate!”
Pause. Then, to the point at the top of the house he added a small American flag.
“This is the problem in our schools today. The quality of our education is going downhill fast and teachers have been stripped of the tools they need to be successful, and to educate and discipline our young people. We are allowing others to widen home plate! Where is that getting us?”
Silence. He replaced the flag with a Cross.
“And this is the problem in the Church, where powerful people in positions of authority have taken advantage of young children, only to have such an atrocity swept under the rug for years. Our church leaders are widening home plate for themselves! And we allow it.”
“And the same is true with our government. Our so called representatives make rules for us that don’t apply to themselves. They take bribes from lobbyists and foreign countries. They no longer serve us. And we allow them to widen home plate and we see our country falling into a dark abyss while we watch.”
We Moved Home Plate [EPISODE 27]
Have you “moved home plate” with anything in your life?
If you are anything like me, there are probably a couple of things we’ve let get extended, over-extended, and perhaps even seem unrecognizable to the rules you originally had in place.
This can be from anything to your morals, values, weight, spending/saving habits, time with kids, time with family, religion, and everything in between.
If you look around, it usually won’t take long to discover at least one thing in your life where home plate has been moved and could use some adjustment.
I know I sure have a few…
This subject of choosing happiness and chasing the right things in life is one of my favorite chapters in the ultimate book on happiness called, “Fishing For Happiness.”
Definitely, pick up a copy for yourself if you haven’t done so already.
In the meantime, what is holding you back from a happier and more fulfilling life?
Let me know in the comments.
Want to hear my full story of overcoming cancer, anxiety attacks, and alcohol abuse along with what I learned on my journey to find more fulfillment in my life?
Then pick up a copy of Fishing For Happiness – the only book on happiness that curates over 300 top personal development books (and also comes with a money-back guarantee).
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