“17 Inches” – A GREAT Life Lesson!

Since we have grandsons who play baseball, this story quickly caught my attention. I soon realized it wasn’t really about baseball at all but about life in general and how we choose to live it.
Although I shared this article on our Facebook page earlier this week, I felt it was worthy of posting again. PLEASE  take the time to read it to the end. I promise it will be well worth your time!
Also, please share with your family and friends, children and grandchildren, anyone you know in a leadership position, and any coaches you may know,  regardless of the sport they coach.
No photo description available.

Ken Koenen

Twenty years ago, in Nashville, Tennessee, during the first week of January, 1996, more than 4,000 baseball coaches descended upon the Opryland Hotel for the 52nd annual ABCA’s (American Baseball Coaches Association) convention.

While I waited in line to register with the hotel staff, I heard other more veteran coaches rumbling about the lineup of speakers scheduled to present during the weekend. One name kept resurfacing, always with the same sentiment — “John Scolinos is here? Oh, man, worth every penny of my airfare.”

Who is John Scolinos, I wondered. No matter; I was just happy to be there.

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 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?

“Seventeen inches!”

“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. If 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… what do we do when your best player shows up late to practice? or 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 just 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! We see our country falling into a dark abyss while we just watch.”

I was amazed. At a baseball convention where I expected to learn something about curve balls and bunting and how to run better practices, I had learned something far more valuable.

From an old man with home plate strung around his neck, I had learned something about life, about myself, about my own weaknesses and about my responsibilities as a leader. I had to hold myself and others accountable to that which I knew to be right, lest our families, our faith, and our society continue down an undesirable path.

“If I am lucky,” Coach Scolinos concluded, “you will remember one thing from this old coach today. It is this: “If we fail to hold ourselves to a higher standard, a standard of what we know to be right; if we fail to hold our spouses and our children to the same standards, if we are unwilling or unable to provide a consequence when they do not meet the standard; and if our schools & churches & our government fail to hold themselves accountable to those they serve, there is but one thing to look forward to …”

With that, he held home plate in front of his chest, turned it around, and revealed its dark black backside, “…We have dark days ahead!.”

Note: Coach Scolinos died in 2009 at the age of 91, but not before touching the lives of hundreds of players and coaches, including mine. Meeting him at my first ABCA convention kept me returning year after year, looking for similar wisdom and inspiration from other coaches. He is the best clinic speaker the ABCA has ever known because he was so much more than a baseball coach. His message was clear: “Coaches, keep your players—no matter how good they are—your own children, your churches, your government, and most of all, keep yourself at seventeen inches.”

And this my friends is what our country has become and what is wrong with it today, and now go out there and fix it!

“Don’t widen the plate.”

Perfectly stated!

See you next week for more Wisdom Matters!

What The World Needs Now . . . Is More Wisdom!

I originally posted the content below in January 2018. It was my very first post!

I intended to re-post it at the start of 2019 to kick off the new year as a fresh reminder to everyone but where did January go?!

So here it is a little late. ENJOY!

Daily Wisdom For 2019

I drafted these nuggets of wisdom below in December 2018 to share with our amazing and talented grandchildren. I put a copy in each of their Christmas stockings and encouraged them to read the one corresponding to each day of the week. Not a very exciting stocking stuffer, I know! My hope and prayer is they will take this wisdom with them, apply it to their lives as they grow, and even share it with their friends.

It didn’t take long to realize these nuggets of wisdom might also be beneficial for anyone desiring to make positive changes in their lives, no matter their age.

I can’t think of a better New Year’s resolution than to read and meditate on these daily nuggets of wisdom each week and committing to live by them. The world would be a far better place if each of us just started here!

Full Disclosure: Each of the daily quotes below are from sources other than my own pea brain! I cannot take credit for originating them, however I did add some content to each.

So, even if you don’t believe in the power of prayer, you can’t go wrong making the “Sunday Prayer” below your own every day of the week, let alone on Sundays. It’s a prayer written by General Douglas MacArthur to his only son during World War II. I’ve reworded it a bit to personalize it.


Sunday:      O Lord, make me strong enough to know when I am weak and brave enough to face myself when I am afraid; one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory.

Make me a person whose wishes will not take the place of good deeds; who will know Thee, and that to know myself is the foundation stone of knowledge.

Lead me, I pray, not in the path of ease and comfort, but under the stress and spur of difficulties and challenge. Here let me learn to stand up in the storm; here let me learn compassion for those who fail.

Make me a person whose heart will be clear, whose goal will be high; who will master myself before I seek to master others; one who will reach into the future, yet never forget the past.

And after all these things are mine O Lord, add, I pray, enough of a sense of humor, so that I may always be serious, yet never take myself too seriously. Give me humility, so that I may always remember the simplicity of true greatness, the open mind of true wisdom, and the weakness of true strength.

Then O Lord, I will dare to whisper, I have not lived in vain.

Monday:       Job security is your ability to produce. Never stop learning and giving your very best effort every day.

Tuesday:      Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard. Don’t take your God-given talents and abilities for granted. No pain, no gain!

Wednesday:  Moral & ethical character is the will to do what is right, as God defines right in the Holy Bible, regardless of personal cost. Sometimes, doing the right thing hurts!

Thursday:    What’s popular is not always right, and what’s right is not always popular. One bad decision can lead to a lifetime of regrets!

Friday:         You can never be at the right place, at the right time, doing the right thing, if you’re with the wrong crowd! Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.

Saturday:     Run from evil and hold onto what is good. Sin has consequences!


Parents and grandparents, please bless your children and grandchildren with a copy of this daily wisdom. Encourage them to use it as a moral compass as they grow and navigate through this crazy world we live in.

You can grab a downloadable copy of “Wisdom for Daily Living” by clicking on the “Free Resources” tab.

Please share this blog with your circles of influence because…Wisdom Matters!

And, please take a minute to sign up for future emails and blog posts HERE. Thank you!

See you next week for more Wisdom Matters!

Are You a Giver or Taker?

This week’s post is borrowed from an author and blogger I follow on a regular basis at 48Days.com. Dan Miller is an awesome writer and I would highly recommend checking him out, especially if you’re thinking about a career move or starting your own business.

The name of his article is Be the Giving Brother.


Giving Brother

There is a story of a little boy who was admiring a shiny, brand-new sports car parked on a quiet street.  He slowly walked around the amazing vehicle, savoring every angle.  As he pushed his nose up against the window to get a better view of the inside, the voice of the owner coming up behind startled him.

Bob asked, “You like my car?”  “Oh yeah, mister.  It’s awesome.” was the reply.

Red GT

The proud owner said, “My brother gave it to me for Christmas.”

“Your brother gave it to you?  Didn’t cost you nothing?” the young boy asked.

“Yep, my brother gave it to me.  It didn’t cost me a penny.”

“Wow – I wish….,” the young boy began.  And of course Bob knew how he would finish the sentence  “……I wish I had a brother like that.”

But Bob was stunned when the little boy said, “I wish I could be a brother like that.”

Just this week I talked to a gentleman who is grieving the recent death of his mother.  But rather than sharing that grief with his brother and two sisters, they are already involved in a horrendous fight about dividing possessions.  None of them are in need, but the thought of getting something for nothing has erased family ties and apparently all civility.  Instead of being generous, they have allowed greed to wipe out compassion and long-standing relationships.

Which brother (or sister-my insert) are you?

What was your first instinct?  Are you waiting for a hand-out from the company, the government, the lottery, or an inheritance?  Are you hoping for an unexpected and undeserved gift to make your life better?

Or are you doing the things today to guarantee your success three years from now?  The things that identify you as a leader.  The things that will allow you to be the giving brother (or sister-my insert) rather than the taker?

What would it feel like to be able to give a car to someone?

Or a house, a bag of groceries from the store or two dollars to the guy selling newspapers on the corner?  Build your giving muscles rather than your fighting, taking ones.  The default position is to want to be the person who receives.  It takes intentionality and a mindset of abundance to want to be the one who gives. But that will open doors of opportunity that most people will never experience!


Just a short post with a very powerful message! I believe our world would be in a much better place if we had more givers and less takers!

Compassion and generosity towards others are amazing and potentially life-changing character traits to possess.

See you next week for more Wisdom Matters!

What the World Needs Now… is WISDOM!

Happy New Year and welcome to my very first blog post!

Initially, I’m planning one blog post per week beginning on the first Sunday of each month and posting every Sunday in the month thereafter.

Sundays may be the quietest day of the week for many folks before the busy workweek begins. Hopefully readers will be able to take some quiet time and meditate on the wisdom presented before all the busyness begins!


Webster’s Dictionary defines wisdom as “the ability to discern inner qualities and relationships; to have good sense, good judgement”.

The Revell Bible Dictionary defines wisdom as “the ability to discern right choices. While the ability to make wise choices depends on possession of relevant knowledge, wisdom in Scripture refers to the distinct mental process of weighing and judging alternatives”.

Crime, corruption, violence in our streets, addictions and moral decay are running rampant in our nation and around the world today. It’s obvious there is a desperate need for wisdom and truth leading to better judgement in the decisions being made by many individuals these days!

Daily Wisdom to Start Our New Year

Originally, I drafted these nuggets of wisdom below to share with our amazing and talented grandchildren. I put a copy in each of their Christmas stockings and encouraged them to read the one corresponding to each day of the week this year. Not a very exciting stocking stuffer, I know! My hope and prayer is they will take this wisdom with them, apply it to their lives as they grow and even share it with their friends.

It didn’t take long to realize these nuggets of wisdom might also be beneficial for anyone desiring to make positive changes in their lives, no matter their age.

I can’t think of a better New Year’s resolution than to read and meditate on these daily nuggets of wisdom each week and committing to live by them. The world would be a far better place if each of us just started here!

Full Disclosure: Each of the daily quotes below are from sources other than my own pea brain! I cannot take credit for originating them, however I did add some content to each.

So, even if you don’t believe in the power of prayer, you can’t go wrong making this prayer your own every day of the week, let alone on Sundays. It’s a prayer written by General Douglas MacArthur to his only son during World War II. I’ve reworded it a bit to personalize it.

Sunday:      O Lord, make me strong enough to know when I am weak and brave enough to face myself when I am afraid; one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory.

Make me a person whose wishes will not take the place of good deeds; who will know Thee, and that to know myself is the foundation stone of knowledge.

Lead me, I pray, not in the path of ease and comfort, but under the stress and spur of difficulties and challenge. Here let me learn to stand up in the storm; here let me learn compassion for those who fail.

Make me a person whose heart will be clear, whose goal will be high; who will master myself before I seek to master others; one who will reach into the future, yet never forget the past.

And after all these things are mine O Lord, add, I pray, enough of a sense of humor, so that I may always be serious, yet never take myself too seriously. Give me humility, so that I may always remember the simplicity of true greatness, the open mind of true wisdom, and the weakness of true strength.

Then O Lord, I will dare to whisper, I have not lived in vain.

Monday:       Job security is your ability to produce. Never stop learning and giving your very best effort every day.

Tuesday:      Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard. Don’t take your God-given talents and abilities for granted. No pain, no gain!

Wednesday:  Moral & ethical character is the will to do what is right, as God defines right in the Holy Bible, regardless of personal cost. Sometimes, doing the right thing hurts!

Thursday:    What’s popular is not always right, and what’s right is not always popular. One bad decision can lead to a lifetime of regrets!

Friday:         You can never be at the right place, at the right time, doing the right thing, if you’re with the wrong crowd! Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.

Saturday:     Run from evil and hold onto what is good. Sin has consequences!

Parents and grandparents, please bless your children and grandchildren with a copy of this daily wisdom. Encourage them to use it as a moral compass as they grow and navigate through this crazy world we live in.

You can grab a downloadable copy of Wisdom for Daily Living-2018 by clicking on the “Free Resources” tab.

Please share this blog with your circle of influence because…Wisdom Matters!

And, please take a minute to sign up for future emails and blog posts HERE. Thank you!

See you next Sunday!

Wisdom-Matters