The Little General: Gene Mauch A Baseball Life
Gene Mauch’s five decades in baseball as player and manager stands as a testament to perseverance. From the minor leagues, the Pacific Coast League, and Major League Baseball Gene Mauch’s career has had more than his share of ups and downs. Known as an intense competitor and brilliant strategist he presided over 1,902 Major League victories. As one of the twelve managers with more than 1900 wins only Gene Mauch is not in the Hall of Fame.
Mauch had a reputation for taunting opposing teams and was frequently involved in fiery exchanges with umpires and players. His bombastic personality, brilliant baseball mind, and loyalty to his players earned him the moniker of the Little General.
“If you had the best club, you had a chance to beat him; if he had the best club, you had no chance; if the clubs were even, he had the advantage. I managed against him for a long time. I always had the better teams. (Gene) Mauch wasn’t aloof (a common accusation), he was only intense.”- Sparky Anderson
Gene Mauch played major league baseball in Brooklyn, St. Louis, Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Boston where over a period of thirteen years he spent parts of nine seasons playing in just 240 games. During that same period he played in 1,061 in the minors including three years in the Pacific Coast League.
He is best known for his years as a manager of big league clubs in Philadelphia, Montreal, Minnesota, and Anaheim. During this period from 1960 through 1987 Gene Mauch amassed 1,902 victories against 2,037 losses. Some remember Mauch for the collapse of 1964 Phillies, but to this day only one Phillies manager has more wins. Others might recall his Angels teams’ misfortune in the 1982 and again 1985 playoffs, but to this day no Angels’ manager in team history with more than 30 games coached has a better winning percentage.
Controversial, brilliant, and intense Gene Mauch’s career in baseball and contribution to the game is something every baseball fan can appreciate.
Mel Proctor has more than three decades of professional baseball broadcast experience calling play-by-play for the Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles, Washington Nationals, and San Diego Padres. He has conducted more than 2,000 sports interviews over his career and is the author of I Love the Work, but I Hate the Business. Currently operates Mel Proctor Sports Media where he coaches college and pro athletes, executives, and coaches about the different types of media and develops their skill set and game plan to effectively communicate with the media.
As golfers, we may think that we understand the swing. There may even be times when we feel that we are swinging correctly. However, because that little white ball seems to have such a short attention span and because we can’t readily see ourselves swing, we occasionally require a professional observer to check us out, to note any mistakes and, to put us back on the right track.
Also, while an instructional book and/or video can impart considerable golfing knowledge, neither of these means of communication can tailor specific fundamentals to the fine degree needed for you to become the best golfer you can be. To approach that level of skill, you’ll need personal attention from a teacher who can deal with your own personal physical and mental quirks.
1. Arrive on time. Better yet, be early. Arrive early enough to warm up, relax and clear your head. Golf is recreation, and a golf lesson should be fun. Take the time to swing the club for 10 or 15 minutes, to loosen up and calm down.
2. Don’t tell the instructor what’s wrong with your swing. A good instructor will understand what’s going on with your swing after you’ve hit three balls. More useful for the instructor at the beginning of the lesson would be a brief description of your typical game.
3. Be a good listener. Good teachers will take-in everything you’ve said and develop a plan for helping you. But you have to hear the message, understand the solution and understand why it will work.
4. Remain open to new ideas. The teacher might change your grip, and yes, it won’t feel normal. But, I tell my students the reasons why a new grip might help. And, I ask them to trust me for three or five swings. Give it a try with an open mind.
5. Maintain an honest relationship with your teacher. How much time do you have to practice? If the answer is never, the instructor may give you some drills you can do in front of a mirror at home or during a break at work.
6. Do your homework before selecting a teacher. Find out a little about your instructor and his teaching methods and consider whether it would be a good fit for you. You do need a rapport with your teacher.
“What To Look For In A Teacher” by Jack Nicklaus * In his book Golf My Way – Nicklaus wrote: “When praised as an instructor, Jack Grout, among the most modest of men, would often respond that he was just lucky to be in the right place at the right time to have a student like Jack Nicklaus come along. Well, Jack Nicklaus was equally lucky to be in the right place at the right time to have a coach – and friend, and, ultimately, “second father” – like Jack Grout.
A lot of pros can teach golf’s fundamentals effectively, because the reality is that there aren’t that many of them, and they haven’t changed all that much in the last hundred or so years.
What has always stood out to me most about Jack (Grout), far beyond his teaching and tuning in the mechanics of the game, was the degree of interest he took in me as a person. This came through in the immense amount of time and energy he devoted so gladly to me over so many years, along with his understanding and tolerance of my bouts of impatience and frustration.
Most of all, it came through in his unrelenting and upbeat encouragement. Over the years, there were times when Jack Grout believed in me more than I believed in myself.
A coach can bestow no greater gift.”
7. Finally, set reachable goals, because one lesson isn’t meant to overhaul your game.
People sometimes expect miracles. Successful teaching is done in small pieces that add up a lot.
Remember: A good golf lesson is worth 1,000 range balls. With a little forethought, you might make it worth even more.
For more stories about Jack Grout check out Dick’s Book, Jack Grout: A Legacy in Golf