Baseball Intelligence: February, 2021(#116)
17” It’s as Simple as PI!!
Accountability and Responsibility
John Scolinos was a college baseball coach for 44 years. His major tenures were at Pepperdine and Cal Poly
Pomona, and he won 1,198 games. His teams won the NCAA Division II national championship three times, and he
was named Coach of the Year three times. John was the pitching coach for the USA 1984 Olympic Team and the
head coach of the USA World Games team in 1980. He was named to the AACBC Hall of Fame in 1974 and the
field at Cal Poly is named Scolinos Field. Coach Scolinos was not only a baseball coach but a teacher and mentor to
many players. His teaching of “life lessons” far outweighed his won-lost record!
In 1996 Coach Scolinos made an iconic speech about the importance and value of baseball at the ABCA national
convention. He “revealed” the true nature of not only a coach’s job but of our obligation as citizens, parents, and
spouses. Below is an abbreviated account of that speech…FAW!!
As he was introduced, Coach walked onto the stage with a full-sized authentic home plate dangling on a string
around his neck. After a few perfunctory remarks, he said, “Wonder why I am wearing this around my neck?” and
then proceeded to tell the coaches the answer!
First, he asked the coaches how wide is home plate in Little league/youth ball? They answered 17”. Then he asked
how wide is it in Babe Ruth Ball? Answer, 17”. How wide in high school ball? Answer 17”. College Ball? 17”.
Minor League ball? 17”. And finally, Major Leagues? 17”! He then asked, “What if a MLB pitcher cannot throw
the ball over the 17” plate?” The answer: The player is off to the minor leagues or gone! What they do not say is,
“Can’t hit 17”?, OK, then we will make it 18 or 19”…maybe 20” so you have a better chance! And then, if you
cannot hit it, we will widen it even more! Nope, you must hit 17” or…”
John continued by asking, “What do you do with a star player who is late to practice? Breaks team rules? Is
disruptive? Are they held accountable? Or do YOU change the rules to fit him? Do YOU widen the plate?”
He then drew a small house on the plate. The problem in the homes today, with marriages, parenting, and discipline
is that we do NOT teach accountability to our kids. There are NO consequences for failure to meet standards. We
widen the plate. He adds a flag to the roof of the house. This is the problem in our schools today. The quality of
education is going downhill rapidly! Teachers have been stripped of their tools and disciplinary capabilities. Others
are widening the plate! Coach then replaces the flag with a cross. This is the problem in the church. Powerful
people have taken advantage of our children and the atrocity was swept under the rug. Church leaders are widening
After a pause, John concluded with the home run ball! “If we/you fail to hold ourselves to a higher standard, a
standard of what we know to be right; if we/you fail to hold our spouses and children to the same standard, if
we/you are unwilling or unable to provide consequences when they do not meet that standard, and if the schools,
churches, and government fail to hold themselves accountable to those they serve, there is but one thing to look
forward to…” He then turns over the home plate around his neck and reveals the dark, black underside and says,
“Dark days ahead!”
Keep your players, your spouse, and your children, and YOURSELF at 17”!!!