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Children's author teaches values through baseball story

Cary Ashby • May 16, 2017 at 1:00 PM

League Elementary kicked off its Right to Read Week with a visit Monday from children’s author Doug Coates.

In 2014, he published a book about Little League pitcher Dominic. The 11-year-old boy is concerned about letting down his team with the way he pitches.

“His dad is the coach. He (Dominic) struggles with his attitude,” Coates said.

Dominic’s sister, Chelsea, is in a wheelchair.

“She loves baseball, but she can’t play it,” the author said.

Coates, who has coached baseball his entire life, was inspired to write “Pitching for Success: Character Lessons, the Joe Nuxhall Way” after volunteering one day at the Joe Nuxhall Miracle League Fields. The author said the experience changed his life and gave him more empathy and compassion for people with special needs.

Nuxhall, a Cincinnati Reds pitcher, was born and raised in Hamilton, Ohio where Coates lives. 

“There are custom-made fields for special needs children. The fields are made of recyclable rubber,” he said.

Coates is the board treasurer for the Joe Nuxhall League. Nuxhall’s son Kim is the executive director.

After pitching in the minor leagues for eight years, Nuxhall played for the Reds. 

Nuxhall, who died at age 79 in 2007, is known as baseball’s youngest player. According to The New York Times, he pitched one game for the Reds when he was 15 years old. He pitched 2/3 of an inning June 10, 1944 — four days after the D-Day invasion.

“He was the youngest player to sign a major league contract at the age of 15 back in 1944,” Coates said.

Through his book, Coates teaches lessons such values as character (“doing what is right when nobody’s looking”), being a friend and good sportsmanship.

One of Coates’ messages to the League students was to have options in life, such as coaching instead of being a professional athlete.

“His big focus was to have options,” the author said, referring to Nuxhall. 

Coates once asked Nuxhall’s son what his father would have done if he hadn’t played baseball. Kim Nuxhall told him his father would have pursued being a professional basketball player.

Joe Nuxhall retired from the Reds in 1967. He was a full-time Reds broadcaster with Marty Brenneman from 1967 to 2004.

“They were the biggest broadcasting duo ever,” Coates said.

The author coached girls fast-pitch softball for four years. 

“Baseball doesn’t mean any less because I didn’t play, but it remains my passion,” he said. “I played up until two years ago.”

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