October 16, 2013

The Coach's Coach

The 1988 San Francisco Giants did not lack for leaders. They had Will Clark, Rick Reuschel, Mike LaCoss, Rusty Tillman ... all famous leaders. But their greatest leader stood at third base, and his name was Matt Williams Bill Fahey.


Giants Leaders, 1989 Topps

If you did what Bill Fahey told you to when he tugged on his ear - hit a home run - you could have the good fortune of shaking his hand as you rounded third, provided you shook like A MAN and some ninnypants jerkface.

But how did Bill Fahey even get to third base?

Well, he got there mainly because the Giants are not afraid to try new ideas.

The first new idea was: Let's put a coach at third base who has never coached there before and see what happens.

The second new idea was: What happened was magic.

SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ. — Whoever said there is nothing new in big league baseball should have been here Tuesday. A big league third-base coach, Bill Fahey of the San Francisco Giants, was receiving instruction from another third-base coach. Or to put it more simply: one coach is coaching another.

This is pretty much the greatest lede ever. One coach coaching another? WHA WHA WHAAAAAAAA????? That is new to baseball and happened in 1988 for the first time. It used to be like:

Coach: Hey player, do THIS.

Player: Got it coach.

Other coach: No, no, no. Tell him to do this like this. Do THIS.

Coach: HEY WHAT THE HELL BUDDY I'LL DO THE COACHIN' ROUND HERE! GET OFF THE FIELD DAG NABIT!

But:

"It takes a true leader to be led." -- Garfield (the cat)

More:

``I don`t think it`s ever happened before,`` conceded Herman Franks, 74, the coach doing the coaching. ``I`ll tell him all I know.``

This card would be much more accurate if there was a dream-like image of Herman Franks standing in the outfield and nodding his approval as Fahey shook hands with whatshisface.

``I think he`ll be all right,`` Franks observed, speaking of his pupil. ``He`s got to know every arm out there and when to gamble. I can only teach him so much. A lot of it is horse sense and instinct.``

Pretty sure Fahey was using his horse sense here, when he horse-sensed the sign for "hit a dinger, fella."

The third-base coach is, in effect, an assistant manager. He gets the signs from the dugout and relays them to the first-base coach, the hitter and the baserunners. He must be constantly of (sic) aware of the game situations-the speed of the baserunner, accuracy and arm strength of all the outfielders and which hitters are due up next.

WHICH HITTERS ARE DUE UP NEXT (!!!)

Player: Who's up next, skip? Ain't nobody in the on-deck circle ...

Manager: Confarnit how should I know? Ask the third base coach ya' dingbat!

Seriously everyone please read this spring training column from 1988. It is awesome, and features phrases like:

horse sense
skull session
Connie Mack
chalk talk
10-gallon hat
John Wayne
pearl-handled six-shooters
"All we had was the damn salad."

Anyway, the point is that third base coach Phil Bill Fahey is the greatest leader to have ever led. A true pioneer, he is the reason why no coach or player has since worn No. 42. A bust of Fahey is the first thing you see when you walk into the Baseball Hall of Fame, and below it is inscribed the phrase, "The first coach to have ever been coached by another coach with coaching, Bill Fahey coached with #horsesense."

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