For years, I lived next to an elderly neighbor and friend named Ralph.
A colorful guy, Ralph enjoyed an interesting life and often shared stories about his time in the Navy, his adopted children or his love of Notre Dame football.
From what he told me, he was also a pretty good outfielder during his high school days in Nebraska in the 1940s. Yet, he almost never talked about his near .400 batting average or of his team’s success.
What he did tell me, however, was how he led the league his senior year in one interesting category: being hit by a pitch.
Ralph played in a time when coaches taught their pitchers to actually throw inside (I’ll save that for another column). Anyway, I never thought much of the stat, but for Ralph, he wore it as a badge of honor. He wasn’t just good, but tough.
I asked him once if he kept a running tally throughout the season and he said he was unaware of the statistic until his coach told him at season’s end.
Through our interactions over two decades, he brought up the stat several times. It meant so much to him and yet he would have never known about it if one of his coaches had not taken the time to log the games.
What seems so fundamental is now so fundamentally flawed. Quite a few of area coaches have just stopped trying in that regard, which is a shame.
Now, the reasons vary for the lack of statistical data.
Some coaches have told me it’s not part of their job. Others have claimed that opposing teams can scout off their information. Additional reasons exist, as well.
To the first point, I would simply say a coach can’t ask her/his player to go all out if he/she won’t do the same. To the second objection, we live in the age of Hudl and instant messaging and information. There’s little to hide.
Now, I had the privilege of covering the St. Monica Academy girls’ volleyball team in 2012 when the squad advanced to the CIF Southern Section Division V-A…