Home Plate is always 17 inches wide – Giving Credit to the Source

Home Plate is always 17 inches wide – Giving Credit to the Source

17 inches of home plate


I can’t take credit for the inspiration or the original information of this post. I stated this the first time I shared the story and gave credit to the person whom I got the the story from on Facebook. Ryan Brust commented three days ago that Chris Sperry was the original author. We have had internet problems this week so it took me a few days to properly attribute the story to its rightful source.

It was written by  Chris Sperry

http://www.sperrybaseballlife.com/stay-at-17-inches/ .

The message of the article is AMAZING!

Chris Sperry, thank you for sharing your experience! Please be sure to check out Chris Sperry’s site http://www.sperrybaseballlife.com/

Accurate and rightful attribution to this article goes to Chris Sperry and his company Baseball/Life LLC.

The article was shared with me via my Facebook feed but thought it was perfect for my pre-season baseball theme this week. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

As a parent and ardent sports fan, the message of John Scolinos is something I needed to hear and share.

Worth the read… For everyone especially parents and coaches
In Nashville, Tennessee, during the first week of January, 1996, more than 4,000 baseball coaches descended upon the Opryland Hotel for the 52nd annual ABCA convention.

While I waited in line to register with the hotel staff, I heard other more veteran coaches rumbling about the lineup of speakers scheduled to present during the weekend. One name, in particular, kept resurfacing, always with the same sentiment — “John Scolinos is here? Oh man, worth every penny of my airfare.”

Who the heck is John Scolinos, I wondered. Well, in 1996 Coach Scolinos was 78 years old and five years retired from a college coaching career that began in 1948. No matter, I was just happy to be there.

He shuffled to the stage to an impressive standing ovation, wearing dark polyester pants, a light blue shirt, and a string around his neck from which home plate hung — a full-sized, stark-white home plate. Pointed side down.

Seriously, I wondered, who in the hell is this guy?

After speaking for twenty-five minutes, not once mentioning the prop hanging around his neck, Coach Scolinos appeared to notice the snickering among some of the coaches. Even those who knew Coach Scolinos had to wonder exactly where he was going with this, or if he had simply forgotten about home plate since he’d gotten on stage.

Then, finally …

“You’re probably all wondering why I’m wearing home plate around my neck. Or maybe you think I escaped from Camarillo State Hospital,” he said, his voice growing irascible. I laughed along with the others, acknowledging the possibility.

“No,” he continued, “I may be old, but I’m not crazy. The reason I stand before you today is to share with you baseball people what I’ve learned in my life, what I’ve learned about home plate in my 78 years.”

Several hands went up when Scolinos asked how many Little League coaches were in the room. “Do you know how wide home plate is in Little League?” After a pause, someone offered, “Seventeen inches,” more question than answer.

“That’s right,” he said. “How about in Babe Ruth? Any Babe Ruth coaches in the house?”

Another long pause.

“Seventeen inches?”came a guess from another reluctant coach.

“That’s right,” said Scolinos. “Now, how many high school coaches do we have in the room?” Hundreds of hands shot up, as the pattern began to appear. “How wide is home plate in high school baseball?”

“Seventeen inches,” they said, sounding more confident.

“You’re right!” Scolinos barked. “And you college coaches, how wide is home plate in college?”

“Seventeen inches!” we said, in unison.

“Any Minor League coaches here? How wide is home plate in pro ball?”

“Seventeen inches!”

“RIGHT! And in the Major Leagues, how wide home plate is in the Major Leagues?”

“Seventeen inches!”

“SEV-EN-TEEN INCHES!” he confirmed, his voice bellowing off the walls.

“And what do they do with a a Big League pitcher who can’t throw the ball over these seventeen inches?” Pause. “They send him to Pocatello!” he hollered, drawing raucous laughter.

“What they don’t do is this: they don’t say, ‘Ah, that’s okay, Bobby. You can’t hit a seventeen-inch target? We’ll make it eighteen inches, or nineteen inches. We’ll make it twenty inches so you have a better chance of throwing the ball over it. If you can’t hit that, let us know so we can make it wider still, say twenty-five inches.’”


“Coaches …”


” … what do we do when our best player shows up late to practice? What do we do if he violates curfew? What if he uses drugs? Do we hold him accountable? Or do we change the rules to fit him? Do we widen home plate?

The chuckles gradually faded as four thousand coaches grew quiet, the fog lifting as the old coach’s message began to unfold.

Then he turned the plate toward himself and, using a Sharpie, began to draw something. When he turned it toward the crowd, point up, a house was revealed, complete with a freshly drawn door and two windows. “This is the problem in our homes today. With our marriages, with the way we parent our kids. With our discipline. We don’t teach accountability to our kids, and there is no consequence for failing to meet standards. We widen the plate!”

Pause. Then, to the point at the top of the house he added a small American flag.

“This is the problem in our schools today. The quality of our education is going downhill fast and teachers have been stripped of the tools they need to be successful….to educate and discipline our young people. We are allowing others to widen home plate! Where is that getting us?”

“And this is the problem in the Church, where powerful people in positions of authority have taken advantage of young children, only to have such an atrocity swept under the rug for years. Our church leaders are widening home plate!”

I was amazed. At a baseball convention where I expected to learn something about curveballs and bunting and how to run better practices, I had learned something far more valuable. From an old man with home plate strung around his neck, I had learned something about life, about myself, about my own weaknesses and about my responsibilities as a leader. I had to hold myself and others accountable to that which I knew to be right, lest our families, our faith, and our society continue down an undesirable path.

“If I am lucky,” Coach Scolinos concluded, “you will remember one thing from this old coach today. It is this: if we fail to hold ourselves to a higher standard, a standard of what we know to be right; if we fail to hold our spouses and our children to the same standards, if we are unwilling or unable to provide a consequence when they do not meet the standard; and if our schools and churches and our government fail to hold themselves accountable to those they serve, there is but one thing to look forward to …”

Read the rest of the story at http://www.sperrybaseballlife.com/stay-at-17-inches/

Shared By: Melanie A. Peters



24 thoughts on “Home Plate is always 17 inches wide – Giving Credit to the Source

  1. Reblogged this on JoyfullyMe and commented:
    Read this today. Personal integrity is paramount to living a godly life. Proverbs 22:1 “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches; and favor is better than silver or gold”


  2. Succinct, wise and most importantly……truthful. thank you coach. Hopefully your legacy will live on in the thousands of kids & coaches you touched. Truly inspirational!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Coach Scolinos lived to the age of 91. San Meyer, you are incredibly naive or just plain silly if you think that man was not a witness to troubling times; regarding baseball or the world in general. The words he spoke were very wise. You need to read again sir, and consider all the things Coach Scolinos in his 91 years; baseball and life and society in general.


  3. More parents / people need to read this article. No matter what sport or activity children or grandchildren are involed. Excellant article.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. In our society, the problem isn’t knowing where integrity lies, or where values and morals stand in our lives. It is in where we as a society feel it is easier to change our own “17in” in order to be more comfortable. No one wants to put in the hard work, and it has finally been bred into our kids, and kid’s kids, simply because it is easier. I am glad that Coach Scolinos spoke those words to that crowd and touched lives. And that this message has been shared on Facebook. But who amongst the thousands who have read this is actually applying the message. We think by making it easier for our kids and not holding them to “the standard”, we do them a favor; wrong! And at the moment of truth, when you the parent, or coach, teacher, or responsible party have the perfect moment to uphold integrity, what action will you choose when no one else is looking? True integrity guides your actions even when no one else is around. True integrity lets you be honest with yourself first, so that you can make the distinction between right and wrong, good or bad, or make it easier or widen home plate. If you truly are serious about the message and want to be the difference in this generation of truth changers, then we must as a whole society, gain back the strength and power of values and morals and stop allowing so much to change us. The hard right over the easy wrong; every time!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Chris, your article is amazing! I found it in Facebook feed in April. Ryan Brust commented two says ago that you were the source. I was so excited to learn this. We are experiencing Internet issues. I have been able to view comments on my phone but have not been able to access previous posts. As soon as I am up and going I will be giving you full credit in my original post.


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