Please Help Me, I’ve Made My Son Into A Mama’s Boy


It started out like any other “first day” baseball practice. Then Mrs. Shaw pulled up and asked to speak with me. She told me that her son was in the car and wouldn’t get out. She said, “I’ve done a bad thing to my son. I’ve raised him to be a mama’s boy and I need some help to change that. Please help me.” We made a deal right then and there that we would both do whatever we could to help Mike Shaw toughen up and grow-up into a young man.

I had to drag Mike out of the car that first day and his mom drove away in tears. It was a BAD day. Mike cried almost all of practice, I sounded like Godzilla and the other boys didn’t understand. So I visited with a few of the leading boys and we all began the project together; well all of us but Mike. The boys agreed to be Mike’s encouragers to help off set me being so hard on him.

He had never played ball before, so he couldn’t throw, catch or hit. Mike was considerably overweight and SLOOOOOOOOW! The running at the beginning of practice each day just about did him in. For the first week he was not only in tears everyday when he finished his lap around the ballpark, but cried off and on throughout practice.

He didn’t have the skills to play the infield and he was a danger to himself in the outfield – couldn’t judge the ball. So that only left one position: CATCHER. Of all the positions on the field, the only one where his size would actually help him was catcher. But there was a problem. The catcher has to be one of the toughest players on the team. Mrs. Shaw OK’d the position decision.

The first day that Mike practiced as catcher sounded more like a war than a sport’s practice with children. He was balling and screaming, I was hollering and the rest of the team was trying to pretend like they were somewhere else. There was a man fishing in a floater in the pond right behind our practice field who was screaming extremely unkind words at me and I’m sure wanted to turn me into either CPS or the Ontario Police Dept. But we made it through that first day of catching.

As the season went along Mike got a little better and a whole lot tougher. By the end of the season he rarely teared-up and got to be a pretty fair catcher. Hitting, however, was a different story. Toughening up didn’t help him hit the ball at all. The final week before the tournament championship game Mike took batting practice more than any 5 other players. The boys on our team had worked so hard to help him, that him getting a hit was as important to them as it was to me. But we just couldn’t will him into hitting the ball.

We played for the championship, but found ourselves down 1 run with 2 outs in the sixth inning. We did have runners on second base and third base, but guess who was up to bat? That’s right, Mike. He desperately didn’t want to bat and wanted me to substitute someone in for him. But everyone had already played so it was either him or an automatic out, game over, we lose. So Mike made his way to the batter’s box.

The team we were playing had a huge boy pitching who was about 5’ 10” tall and threw the ball lightning fast. The first two pitches were both strikes and Mike was so scared that he didn’t move a muscle. The pressure was about to do him in. Then he stepped out of the batter’s box and burst into tears. At that point his mom left her seat and hid behind the supply building, crying as hard as he was. I would have done anything to have put someone else in that position, but I couldn’t.

So I called timeout and walked over to Mike and just hugged him for a moment. It seemed like all of the good that we had done through the whole season was hanging in the balance. It made me angry that this situation could destroy all of the good Mike had done and wipe out all of the ground he had gained. Everyone in town would remember this moment when they thought of Mike.

When his sobbing subsided I got an idea (I believe it was from God). I asked him to look out at the pitcher. The pitcher and catcher had gathered at the mound and were whispering and pointing at Mike and laughing. I asked him, “So what do you think they are saying about you?” Mike sobbingly replied, “They’re probably calling me a big fat cry baby.” I told him, “You’re right. They are calling you every kind of ‘chicken’ name they can think of. Now there is only one way for you to prove them wrong. You don’t have to get a hit. When that pitcher throws the next pitch, no matter where it is, you just close your eyes and swing as hard as you can. Who knows what might happen if you’ll just swing.”

I would have bet the ranch that Mike would strikeout. When the next pitch came everyone in the dugout said that he did close his eyes tight and swung as hard as he could. “Crack!” went the bat. The next thing the ball hit was the centerfield fence, about 2 ft. from being a home run. Both of our other runners scored and we won the championship. Mike was standing on second base, screaming and jumping higher than I ever thought he could. And poor Mrs. Shaw didn’t see a thing until it was all over.

Mike wasn’t ever the toughest kid in school, but he wasn’t ever a mama’s boy again. And about 3 years later when we moved from Ontario, OR. to Pampa, Mike hunted me down to say good-bye. He hugged my neck, thanked me for everything and then asked, “Coach, do you still remember that hit?” I grinned and said, “I sure do, Mike. Something else wasn’t it?” “Yeah, Coach, it sure was.”

God bless. Mike

Mike Sublett is a pastor at Hi-Land Christian Church, 1615 N. Banks St., Pampa, Texas 79065. Email him at


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