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Friday, April 22, 2022

Incredible Story of Larry Bird - High School Baseball Coach

In order to finish his college degree, Larry Bird was working at Ballinger’s school as a physical education student-teacher just weeks before becoming an NBA rookie. While doing so, Bird approached Ballinger about helping out with his team. As soon as they could find a uniform that fit his 6-foot-9 frame, “Larry Legend” was officially an assistant varsity baseball coach.

“As far as a lot of the technicalities of baseball, cutoff men and stuff, that was more Coach Ballinger. But the fly balls Larry would hit to the outfielders were Dave Kingman like. Sometimes he’d put them over the fence and into the tennis court,” said Bob Compton, who was a senior first baseman on the team coached by Bird.

Imagine Ja Morant in baseball pants hitting fungos to high school kids just days before his first NBA press conference. Talk about a viral TikTok.

“Larry would get on the tractor and mow the grass for me. He would help line the field too,” said Ballinger.

Jose is Absurdly Correct but not Helpful Posted: April 22, 2022 at 08:42 AM | 13 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cardinals, high school baseball, nba

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   1. A triple short of the cycle Posted: April 22, 2022 at 01:03 PM (#6073082)
The Bird vs. Magic NCAA final is my first memory of college basketball (was 9 at the time). I gravitated to Magic and then became a Lakers fan and Celtics hater despite living in CT. It helped that I decided to be a Yankees fan and Red Sox hater around the same time. In long retrospect, however, I was wrong about Bird. I love Larry Bird. Still hate the Red Sox though.
   2. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: April 23, 2022 at 11:39 AM (#6073204)
I always hated the Celtics before Bird came along, and watching them vs. the Lakers was like watching a duel between Hitler and Stalin. Bird changed that from the first time I saw him in a Celtics uniform.
   3. Cagerfan Posted: April 23, 2022 at 05:00 PM (#6073239)
In Daniel Levine’s unauthorized bio of Bird, he said, playing softball, he would hit a homer in about 2/3 of his ABs. I don’t doubt it. My favorite athlete ever, in any sport.
   4. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: April 24, 2022 at 09:10 AM (#6073379)
I remember watching a documentary about Bird and his legendary trash talking. Having only known him as a kid, I was very surprised. I realize, now, that he had been coded as the "nice" white kid from Indiana in order to appeal to . . . well, people like me. It worked, though. I actually kind of like him better knowing he was kind of an arrogant prick on the court.

Couldn't run, couldn't jump, and couldn't be stopped.
   5. Cagerfan Posted: April 25, 2022 at 12:25 PM (#6073569)
Bird's lack of athleticism is grossly overstated. He was a good athlete, much quicker than most of the other guys who had to guard him. He just wasn't athletic compared to Dr. J or Michael Jordan. But who were?
   6. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: April 25, 2022 at 01:01 PM (#6073571)
It wasn't that Bird wasn't athletic, but unlike Dr. J or Jordan he might not have been able to moonlight with the Bolshoi ballet. His athleticism was real and spectacular, but it was a bit more herky-jerky than the sort of athleticism that we usually associate with the NBA.
   7. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: April 25, 2022 at 02:26 PM (#6073587)
His athleticism was real and spectacular, but it was a bit more herky-jerky than the sort of athleticism that we usually associate with the NBA.


Gangly. Runs like a rotary telephone thrown into a running clothes dryer. Throws like an effete Frenchman throwing a bookcase uphill. Swings a bat like his elbows are stapled to his knees and his underwear is pulled over his head. Stares at you when you aren't looking.
   8. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: April 25, 2022 at 04:32 PM (#6073616)
A certain amount of his special quality that you might call his athleticism inhered in his reflexes and godlike view of the court, as well. Normal people can't do that.
   9. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: April 25, 2022 at 05:36 PM (#6073620)
Gangly. Runs like a rotary telephone thrown into a running clothes dryer. Throws like an effete Frenchman throwing a bookcase uphill. Swings a bat like his elbows are stapled to his knees and his underwear is pulled over his head.

Not bad.

Stares at you when you aren't looking.

But even when you aren't looking you can still feel him breathing down your neck.
   10. The Honorable Ardo Posted: April 25, 2022 at 08:34 PM (#6073642)
Bird might not have been a track star, but he had unreal coordination even among NBA players. (It's therefore no surprise that he was an automatic home run in slow-pitch.) There are several YouTube montages of his dunks; he's always full vertical extension with his arm but never loses control of the basketball, even for a split second. He throws down in heavy traffic, throws down reverses, throws over the top of 7-foot centers, etc.

I'm a historian of the Bad Boy Pistons, the first team I was old enough to root for. One thing that jumps out from the 1987 and 1988 Pistons-Celtics ECFs is Bird driving and scoring at will on Adrian Dantley. Detroit had to compromise its base defenses to send help. (Or sub out Dantley, who also couldn't guard James Worthy, and watch him sulk... the Dantley-Aguirre trade was a long time coming)
   11. Ron J Posted: April 26, 2022 at 10:04 AM (#6073750)
It's also easy to underestimate how important an overall picture of the game is. This was Wayne Gretzky's secret -- he just knew where everybody was and would be in the next few seconds. Gretzky was below average in size, wasn't an exceptional skater (though his balance was top tier), didn't have a hard shot and while he had a quick release, it wasn't upper tier (Brett Hull for instance had a much quicker release).

And yet he was utterly dominant.
   12. Harmon "Thread Killer" Microbrew Posted: April 26, 2022 at 10:36 AM (#6073753)
It's therefore no surprise that he was an automatic home run in slow-pitch.


Former brother-in-law was a 5'6", 175 lb pot-bellied chain smoker who could hit a slo-pitch ball over the fence in all directions whenever he wanted. Top notch bowler, darts player, any paddle or racquet sport that didn't require running. Strong forearms and amazing hand-eye coordination.
   13. sanny manguillen Posted: April 26, 2022 at 10:44 AM (#6073755)
he had unreal coordination even among NBA players.


This is Isiah Thomas telling his perspective of Bird's steal against the Pistons:

How's he doing that?

For some reason, in tbe last month or so I've wasted hour upon hour watching clips of interviews with NBA stars c. 1970-1990. Every one of them is enjoyable.

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