The complete title of this book is: “Coach – Lessons on the Game of Life”. The author is Michael Lewis. It was published in 2005.
Michael Lewis, you may remember, is the author of “Moneyball” and “The Blind Side” among other titles.
I have to admit, I have not, as yet, read the book. Instead I listened to the audiobook version, “Read by the Author”.
As Mr. Lewis explains it in this book he, as a 43 year old, looks back at a man who changed his life. That man, Billy Fitzgerald (aka “Coach Fitz”), was his baseball coach back when he, the author, was a 14 year old boy “who could pass for 12 years old”.
The action in “Coach” takes place in New Orleans, where Michael Lewis went to school, and where a somewhat unusual situation is occurring. Former students (and their parents) think the world of Coach Fitz. But many parents of current students want Coach Fitz fired.
The collective memory of students seems to be: “Fitz changed my life”.
On the back cover of the CD jewel case are printed these words:
- “The coach’s message was not simply about winning, but about self-respect, sacrifice, courage, and endurance. In some ways, and even now, thirty years later, Lewis still finds himself trying to measure up to what Coach Fitz expected of him.”
Names with which you may be familiar, who are mentioned, quoted, or referenced in this book include:
- Sean Tuohy
- “Pistol Pete” Maravich
- Rusty Staub
- Lou Piniella
- Rollie Fingers
- Catfish Hunter
- Peyton Manning
- Archie Manning
- Mark Twain
Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:
- “There were the written rules, and there were the rules.”
- “Success, to Fitz, was a process.”
- “Privilege Corrupts”
- “All this is about a false sense of self-esteem.”
- “What’s fun to you is death to me.”
- “He was teaching us how to cope with the two greatest enemies of a well-lived life: fear and failure.”
- “You never give up on a team, just like you never give up on a kid.”
There are some names in my life who had an effect on me similar to that of Coach Fitz in the life of Michael Lewis. Each deserves a story all his own, but for now I’ll simply list the names here in chronological order of their appearance in my life:
- Mr. Terrance Willison
- Coach Sam Brunswick
- Coach “Crazy Ed” Mitchell
- “Coach” Dobrath
- Coach Herb Hassenburg
- Coach Jack Rapper
- Sensei Shojiro Sugiyama
Listening to the audiobook was very easy and I recommend it to everyone. It consists on one (1) CD, one hour in length. Because the audiobook is so short, I was able to listen to it a number of times.
Nowhere on the CD cover does the word “unabridged” appear, so it is possible that the audiobook leaves out some segments of the printed version. On the other hand, the audiobook is read by Mr. Michael Lewis himself, so that adds its own cachet.
I recommend the book “Coach” by Michael Lewis very highly to anyone and everyone. I enjoyed listening to it. I’m sure that either the audio or printed version will prove to be worth your while.
This recommendation does not apply only to boys, nor does it apply only to jocks.