Focus on little league: A Riverdale Press special report
When your coach and your dad are the same guy
By Raphael Sugarman
If there is any truth to the idea that some Little League dads coach their own kids in order to ease the frustrations of “what could have been” in their own baseball lives, that certainly doesn’t apply to Daniel Perla.
“I think I swung the bat a total of twice during my entire time in Little League,” said Perla, who coaches his son Yoni, 10, a first baseman for the Reds in the Kosher Little League. “I played the outfield and was so bad, they kept moving the wall so I would never have to play a pop fly,” Perla joked.
Yoni didn’t seem to mind his dad’s admitted lack of prowess as a player as he took instructions from him at a recent game. Neither did the other young Reds, as they flittered around blissfully, seemingly not much bigger than the baseball gloves on their hands.
Parents coaching their own kids in youth baseball is a practice as old as the game itself.
In an informal survey of local leagues, the vast majority of teams are being coached by a parent whose son or daughter has been playing for at least a year.
Virtually all of the coaches are male, even in leagues that have all-girl softball programs, like A League of Our Own, comprised entirely of young, female softballers.
Steve Barr, director of media relations for Little League International Baseball and Softball, in Williamsport, PA, said that while the organization has never done a national or international survey of parental participation in coaching, “I would guess that the percentage is pretty high.”
Barr said that he is aware of very few problems regarding kids coached by their own dads.
“Considering we have more than 7,000 leagues worldwide, we don’t get that kind of complaint very often,” he said.
In local interviews, the majority of both coaches and parents who watch from the sidelines said they have not seen a problem with fathers who coach.