By Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications
If you are a coach, aspire to be a coach, know how to spell ‘coach’, or have ever been coached in your life, “Baseball Is Life Is Baseball” is a must-read for you. Written by MSBL player, coach, league president, and MSBL World Series Hall of Fame member Charlie LaDuca, this book is a true recollection of a magical high school baseball season, including years of preparation culminating in a high school baseball state championship for Pine Valley in 2007.
“The concepts of every chapter in this book played a role in the greatest day in Pine Valley baseball history,” stated Coach LaDuca.
Charlie’s insight relating to his upbringing, his relationship with his father, his coaching philosophy and playing career, and his wonderful optimism make me proud to call Charlie a good friend and much more than just an acquaintance. I have read the book cover to cover and recommend that you consider also diving in. You’ll feel better at having done so.
“My father Sam instilled the values and character that made me a successful player and coach. Rising early in the morning and returning late at night, he led by example. The lessons I learned from my father fit perfectly with success on the field. Work hard, have fun, strive to be the best, exhibit good character, learn from your mistakes, never fear failure, have strong discipline, and treat people the way you would like to be treated.”
As the jacket proclaims, ‘This is not a book of baseball fundamentals. It is about the many qualities other than fundamentals needed to take your team or personal life to the next level. Interwoven with detailed practical information are stories and experiences bringing these qualities to life. You will find yourself laughing and perhaps crying at times as you take this journey designed to lift you up and bring out your best.’
Where did the idea for the book come from, Charlie? “I was at my 25-year high school reunion (which was a few years ago, as Charlie was born in Buffalo, New York in 1951) and I ran into a guy I also played youth baseball with,” explained Charlie. “He said he remembered that I was always reading something and was continually surrounded by books and should consider writing. That sort of stuck and got me to thinking about how cool it would be to write a book. It planted the seed. I have been thinking about doing this for a long time.”
After Charlie graduated college there were no physical education teaching jobs so he went to work at a trucking facility. Then at the age of 35, he got into teaching and coaching but never lost the desire to be an author.
“The original premise of the book always remained within me, as I didn’t want to pen another book about coaching fundamentals but more about the difference in how teams were able to win championships because of the proper attitudes as relayed by their coach’s philosophies and programs. You need to obtain the proper mental preparation, motivation, etc.”
To Charlie, all of these internal ideas accumulated throughout the years, both mentally and in journals, with the driving force remaining being able to help coaches take their team to the next level. His days were now full as a physical education teacher and baseball coach at Pine Valley High School, located between Cherry Creek and the Village of South Dayton. One of the most riveting chapters in the book outlines the year 2007 when the Pine Valley high school baseball team finally made it to the pinnacle and won the New York State Championship. It was a true testament to meshing talent with the proper mental toughness. Charlie’s coaching philosophies with the kids carried the day.
Charlie’s quest in researching the most effective way to get a book written and published brought him in front of Frank Amoroso, a fellow Chautauqua MSBL member and published author in his own right. (Babe Ruth ‘Wopper’ Series)
“Frank had a publishing company that he started ten years ago and that started the conversation. I was told by Frank to tell plenty of stories and not simply list out dos and don’ts. I found while writing that I needed to open it up to everyday people and apply the baseball lessons to life. Frank helped me with the bricks and mortar about words and structure. He emphasized conveying to people what I was feeling, and not just publishing a narrative. I think I accomplished that, thanks to Frank.
Two years ago while in Florida I just started putting things down again and everything started to flow. I dedicated a couple of hours most days to writing and it kept me fresh. I never got bogged down with writing and it became great fun. I looked forward to my early morning writing sessions.”
Entering 2022, Charlie’s coaching career has now officially ended, though he continues to mentor a dozen or so pitchers from ages 11 to 18. After Charlie and his family moved to Fredonia, New York he started coaching the pitchers at Fredonia High School beginning in 2013 and they won a state championship there, too. Charlie is an accomplished pitcher and a wonderful guide into the finer aspects of pitching. I need to take a moment here to explain how that all relates to how MSBL entered the picture.
Charlie founded the Chautauqua MSBL in 1992 and has been participating in the MSBL World Series seemingly forever individually, as well as a player/coach in the Father/Son division. He has recently given the reins of the league to Bob Bankoski, who continues to thrive in upstate New York.
Charlie is not just your casual chucker whose better years are long gone. He is a member of the feared MSBL World Series LA Athletics teams, coached by MSBL legend and fellow Hall of Fame member Bob Sherwin, winners of annual rings at the MSBL World Series. Charlie was also inducted into the MSBL World Series Hall of Fame in 2018.
“I was pitching for our Father/Son team in Arizona a while back and we were playing against Bob Sherwin’s LA Athletics and after the game, Bob asked me if I would consider coming over to the Athletics. He was coaching the 60s, 65s, and now has added a 70s team. That was five years ago. In the very first game I ever pitched for them I threw eight innings and gave up one earned run. That pretty much cemented the relationship. I went 25 years without a ring and now have seven, thanks to Bob and the Athletics.”
Unfortunately, this story comes to a bittersweet conclusion.
“I have had bad knees for a long time and had them worked on when I was 55 but now they need total replacement. My baseball career is officially over. This March I get them both replaced (a few weeks apart) and am getting ready for my life after baseball. It has been a great run, both coaching and playing, but I will continue to enjoy helping the kids when I can. I ended my MSBL World Series sojourn with three rings in 2021 and couldn’t have scripted a better ending.”
I personally have coined a phrase that I have lived by for exactly as many years as Charlie has been involved in our great game. ‘Baseball comes and goes, but true friends are forever.’ I am a better person for being able to call Charlie a true friend and will continue to do so for many years to come.
To obtain your copy of ‘Baseball Is Life Is Baseball’, you can click HERE to be directed to Amazon’s order page.