A Letter From Mike Matheny

Submitted by cm2010 on April 12th, 2012 at 4:52 PM

Former UM catcher and current Cardinals manager Mike Matheny spent the last couple years coaching his kid's youth baseball team. Before he agreed to do it, though, he sent a letter to the parents of the team. It's pretty interesting to see what he's like as a person, and it's easy to see how many think he'll make a successful MLB manager.

It's long, but you get the idea pretty early on.





April 12th, 2012 at 5:00 PM ^

I don't think this letter reflects too highly on the man.  I actually happen to agree with much of what he says in the letter, but his smug, condescending tone is unfortunate.


April 12th, 2012 at 5:03 PM ^

and I'm glad he's a former UM athlete.  But if I had a kid in little league and got a letter like this, the words "control freak" would pop to mind.  It was a little too much.  Plus, let's face it, if he had kept every word in there the same but replaced "my Christian faith" with "my [other] faith," watch the fireworks ensue and the kids get pulled off the team.


April 12th, 2012 at 5:15 PM ^

From a kid's perspective (18 on saturday), I loved when my coaches were tough on my team as it brought focus. When coaches are lax, it tends to end with playing for "fun," or messing around. This letter sounds pretty legit. Where was he immediately before coaching the Cards??? No way little league to MLB?

swan flu

April 12th, 2012 at 5:23 PM ^

As a coach I agree with almost everything he says...


But putting something like this in a letter is stupid.  This should be his SCRIPT for a parent meeting, a script that no one else sees or can nitpick after the fact.


April 12th, 2012 at 9:24 PM ^

The kind of person who would nitpick after the fact is the same person who would have been recording a reading of it as a script and nitpicking after the fact anyway.  It probably saved him a one or two hour bitch session.  When parents get together and a few become adversarial, they seem to draw strength from each other's bitching.  

I think the open letter format was perfect.  I would have used a bit of bulleting or numbering and more white space, but that's just  me.


April 12th, 2012 at 5:24 PM ^

he sounds demanding and some may not like the tone,

but i agree100% with everything he says.  the many parents that are the annoying, selfish types matheny decries, absolutely need to hear this.



April 12th, 2012 at 5:44 PM ^

I don't really mind this letter. I wish more coaches would do this in my town. He obviously cares about the kids, but has seen too many times where the parents become destructive to the boys' love for the game. I think this letter is great.


April 12th, 2012 at 5:59 PM ^

Parents these days are out of control.  Nothing has caused me more personal frustration in my life (I am not kidding) than youth sports

I am struggling with my kids running into the same coaches in every sport who make everything about their own kids. 

On the flip side I had a parent complain about my coaching (he said I played favorites) when his kid was disprectful, didn't know the positions and the dad had his head burried in his phone during the entire game.  There is an asshole or several of them for each team.

I see the problem as coaches who are setting the wrong examples and being selfish. Often these are guys who didn't play too much themselves and don't get what sports are about for 99% of the kids.  They think their kid is headed to the NFL or MLB or they just want bragging rights.


We need more coaches who have the cajones to say stuff like this and more parents stay out of the coaches way. 



April 12th, 2012 at 6:29 PM ^

....but if you were a parent of a child on this team, if nothing else, the expectations of YOU  would be crystal clear, and it seems like lately, it is an expectation that a fair number of coaches apparently need to set nowadays, and very sadly with good reason. 

As someone who coached for a time after his insignificant days in baseball, I can identify with the sentiment - some parents almost want their kid to be Hank Aaron on offense, Brooks Robinson on defense, and Billy Martin with the umpires and it just isn't a realistic (or in the case of the last one, desired) expectation of someone still muddling through the 3rd or  4th grade. 



Michigan J. Frog

April 12th, 2012 at 6:37 PM ^

Little Jonnie is an angle, and will be a Major Leaguer some day. Takes after his old man. Ya’ll are just jealous because your kids are failures. You must just not be very good parents. If coach would put Jonnie in more, you would all see. It’s just that he plays favorites with all the other little brats on the team.  


April 12th, 2012 at 6:44 PM ^

Sometimes setting a tone with the parents is necessary.

I vividly remember being a kid on several youth basketball and baseball teams my father coached, and there were always a few parents who were awful. It brings down the whole team, and most of the cheering or yelling of instruction from the peanut gallery was completely uncessary.

My father has numerous overbearing sports parent stories that I was not privy to as a kid.

On one of our middle school teams there was a kid whose parents would show up to every game and make out like two 13 year olds just discoerving their bodies. They rarely paid attention to anything that was happening on the court, and yet one practice they showed up demanding to know why their son was "always coming out of games as soon as he'd been subbed in, and sat the bench more than any other kid."

My father explained that their son always asked to be taken out of the game, and whenever he would say "Who needs a break?" he would be the first with his hand in the air.

He tried to play him as much as possible to be fair, but wasn't going to play a kid who wanted to be taken out of the game, over a kid sitting on the bench who wanted in.

They asked their son if it was true, to which he nodded, and they dropped it, but I shudder to think of the more zealous parents who make it more about themselves than their kids. We had a few of those on some little league teams I played on, and it makes it an uncomfortable atmosphere for all of the kids.


April 12th, 2012 at 7:01 PM ^

I dunno.  My little league coach managed to keep the kids and parents in line pretty well without having to be so over the top with it.  We even won a championship.  He coached with honor and integrity and led by example while other coaches in the league acted like asses and their kids foloowed suit.  

 I'm also pretty sure his religious affiliation never came up, and I find the idea of religion entering into a game of Little League patently ridiculous.  The kids are there to play baseball, not attend seminary. 



April 12th, 2012 at 7:36 PM ^

Religion affects values, and values affect how you carry yourself on and off the field. As he said, he wasn't going to preach about Jesus to the kids, but he wasn't going to hide his beliefs either. I think it's fair.


April 12th, 2012 at 10:33 PM ^

Religion affects values?  Not to touch the 3rd rail here and end up in a political discussion, but I have known athiests that were the among the best people on this planet, and i've known deeply religious people (at least from THEIR point of view) who were absolute garbage human beings. 

People with character and values have character and  values.  People who don't don't.  Who or how people choose to worship or not worship is rather immaterial to what kind of people they are.


April 12th, 2012 at 11:50 PM ^

Religion at it's core tries to teach people values to live by. Just because a person chooses to believe that religion, doesn't mean they will follow them. There are plenty of atheists that live a more moral life than many Christians and vice versa. Some people don't need religion to live a moral life, but some do, and some others use it to do terrible things.

Regardless, I guess I just don't understand why anybody cares that he openly states he's a Christian. 


April 12th, 2012 at 7:50 PM ^

I enjoyed this quite a bit. Especially

"Our culture has lost this respect for authority mostly because the kids hear the parents constantly complaining about the teachers and coaches of the child."

It's the reason I definitely will not coach youth hockey or baseball ever, something I always thought I would eventually do.


April 12th, 2012 at 9:34 PM ^

You're shocked  that parents flipped out and he was forced to resign after that? Girls' soccer parents? His resignation was inevitable the moment he hit send! He basically told the parents never to talk to him, cracked both Michael Vick and steroid half-jokes, and spent the rest of the letter acting like he was Béla Károlyi. Matheny's letter was coming from a good place and was full of painful truths. Just like little league baseball. /sheds tear...  I would just love to see that ex coach bump into some of those parents at an Applebees, still wearing his Green Death official coach's windsuit.

El Jeffe

April 12th, 2012 at 11:19 PM ^

I think he was being what's it called ironical. And I considered them full jokes, so yeah, I am shocked. I mean, come on:

...while blood doping and HGH use is frowned upon, there is no testing policy.


...resist the urge to become sweat-xedo-wearing yuppies who sit on the sidelines in their LL Bean chairs sipping mocha-latte-half-caf-chinos while discussing reality TV and home decorating with other feeble-minded folks.

That's gold, Jerry! Gold!


April 12th, 2012 at 8:18 PM ^

I love the letter.  Plus, if I was a parent I would be happy to have a coach for my kid that is actually qualified to coach that sport.  Something that is rare, at least in Northern Virginia.


April 12th, 2012 at 8:22 PM ^

In our little league, it's mostly dads (and some moms) who coach and they may or may not know what they're doing. Now that my son is in middle school, the dad coaches seem to be a little more serious and know a little more. Plus there's always travel, where you get the high school coaches getting involved. 


April 12th, 2012 at 8:18 PM ^

My son has been playing baseball for seven years (he's now 12), and the coaches have run the gamut. One coach in particular was truly an a**hole - he was so hyper-competitive that when we played the only other undefeated team in the league, he actually got into a screaming match with a grandfather who got too close to the dugout as he tried to take a picture. But my son will now say (that was two years ago) that he was "good" tough, that he knew baseball so it was ok. The guy hasn't coached since. As for parents, I have only run into one parent who lets her own competitiveness run wild, and it's really awful to watch. You gotta feel for the kids whose parents can't separate themselves from their kids in sports. 


April 12th, 2012 at 9:35 PM ^

I coached youth sports for almost 15 years and i LOVED this letter.  Trust me when I tell you that the parents are the bane of every young coach in America because 99% are delusional when it comes to their child.  They all seemingly believe that their son or daughter is blessed with God-given talent that if only given the proper coaching (and playing time of course) would show itself to the world.  I could count on one hand the number of parents capable of a realistic evaluation of their child's athletic prowess.....we simply are not hard-wired to be objective when it comes to a child.

My favorite parent story was during my second year of coaching youth football.  We had the proverbial "Little Giants" team (before their amazing transformation) - we were BAD.  In the league we were in every kids had to play 8 plays minimum or you forfiet so I had a dad assaigned to make sure every boy got at least 8 plays - usually 10 or more.  Anyways one particularly terrible game we were getting drilled like 35 - 0 so I decided to let the "8 play kids" finish up the 4th quarter.  I mean how much worse could it get right?  So the final scored ended up like 49 to 0 and after the game I'm talking to my assistant coaches about the game when a parent got in my face and started yelling because his son (the starting QB) got pulled in the third quarter.  He said this loss was all my fault cause I played the "8 play kids" too much and if i only left the starters in longer we'd be ok.  Well he had more finished letting me know what a horrible coach I was when another dad came up and started yelling because I didn't give the "8 play kids" more time in the game.  "How were they suppose to get better" he yelled if I didnt give them more playing time.  

At that point in time I realized that there was NO way to keep parents happy and I just resigned myself to having to deal with their respective insanity.  My standard response became "why don't you come out and help if you think you can improve things" which almost never got taken up on.  After all - coaching kids is work...and in many cases thankless work at that.  At least from the parents that is.



April 12th, 2012 at 9:42 PM ^

My husband coached flag football when my son was around 9. One mother - the mother of my son's best friend at the time - thought her son was the most gifted kid on the team and that because he couldn't run around the defenders and up field, the field wasn't wide enough. She was visibly upset with the playcalling and would openly criticize other players. My husband never coached again after that experience which is too bad because he was a pretty good coach. 

Waters Demos

April 12th, 2012 at 10:09 PM ^

Great letter, and hopefully the religious appeal was no more than that - a classic bit of rhetoric.

I don't have kids (thank yahuda, etc, whatever), but if all I had was a letter to go on, I'd entrust my kid to this guy. 


April 12th, 2012 at 10:51 PM ^

If I had a son of little league age, I'd sign him up to play for him immediately. Everything I have ever read echoes what MGrowold has experienced: the parents are the assholes. Too many of them are looking at their little Johnny as their meal ticket to big bucks, or to validate Dad's manhood.

I don't give a crap about his religion; I'm as far away as you can imagine from his faith, but my kid would be playing ball, not going to church. Metheny sounds like he'd be a great teacher: firm, demanding, but fair.


April 12th, 2012 at 11:12 PM ^

Pitching coach a fmr big leaguer, and fmr all-American for Sparty. He was a born-again Evangelical and I'm an atheist. I would laugh at some of his comments but I respected and cared about him as a coach and person. I think Matheny is way cooler than this guy was so I doubt it would be an issue at all.


April 12th, 2012 at 11:07 PM ^

Comes from experience. I disagree about parents providing the, "Silent encouragement". My father has worked with kids for 43 years and has a masters in counseling. He would always yell nonspecific encouragement to every kid on the team. Things like, "lookin' very strong you can do this!" many fmr teammates have told me 10 years later, that they still remember what he said because it inspired them in that moment. It's the only time they had fans cheering their name in their whole life. As for me, well I also earned a Big Ten baseball scholarship so I disagree that it put extra pressure on me. Also some of my teammates are throwing in the Major Leagues, including a couple World Series. So I don't think it negatively impacted them either. If Matheny strictly enforced the "silence" part on my Dad, I wouldn't play for him. Otherwise, that letter is beautiful.