Every lead character needs a nemesis. Coach Dave is no exception. He has a number of them throughout the story, including some of the dads from his own team. There is one character, however, who coaches the game in a manner altogether different than our title character. Winning all that matters to him, and he goes to extremes to achieve championships.
Meet Fletcher Brandt, Coach Dave’s nemesis. In today’s excerpt, we drop in on a scene where Brad Baker, the narrator who is new to Southburg, learns about Coach Fletcher Brandt’s little book.
Coach Dave’s Nemesis: Fletcher Brandt
David Wayne Hamilton was tossing his warm-up pitches to catcher Trey Wilson when the one of the circle of dads pointed to the Yankee side. Coach Fletcher Brandt, pointing to his little notebook, huddled with the first three hitters in his line-up. “Look at his neck when he gets over here to the third base coaching box,” Bruce said with a jab to my ribs.
“He has a vein that sticks out when he gets intense. He’ll consider this a must-win game since we’re the only team to have beaten them this season. Of course, he considers every game a must-win game.”
“I can’t imagine what it’s like to live with him if he’s that intense at home.”
Bruce leaned close and whispered, “Thing is—and just about every one of ‘em will deny it—but all these guys were hoping their kids would get drafted on Fletcher’s team. It’s almost a guaranteed championship…if you’re willing to endure his shenanigans to get it.”
“What is it about him that makes his team so good?”
“Well, you’ve heard some of the legend of his little notebook. He has kept notes and charts on every kid in the league as far back as his kid’s first year in T-ball. Not just from his team’s games, either; he scouts them all. Plus, while every other team practices once or twice a week until the games start, he has a field laid out behind his house, and he has his team out there practicing several days a week, even during the season.”
“Has anybody ever mentioned that all that scouting might be a little overkill for twelve-year-old recreational league baseball?” I asked as David Wayne recorded the third out of the inning without allowing a run.
“Oh, there are a few kids who don’t want to play for him. And there are a few parents who let the commissioner know that if Brandt drafts their kids, they won’t play. Dean Ford’s one of ‘em. Brandt gets under Dean’s skin a little. The coach of the league champion gets first shot at being the all-star coach, so Fletcher Brandt is always the coach of the all-star team. Dean won’t let Bryce play for Brandt anymore. When Bryce was nine, he played all-stars for him, and they practiced seven days a week for three weeks before the state tournament. They won that tournament easily and qualified for the World Series in their age group. Bryce hit five home runs at the World Series that year and batted .714 for the tournament. They won it all that year. When Dean and his wife walked down to the gate where the boys were walking out, Bryce met ‘em there with tears in his eyes. He slammed down his glove and said he never wanted to play this game again.
“Well, that didn’t sit too well with the Fords. They’re pretty levelheaded folks when it comes to youth-league baseball. Dean hasn’t said it in so many words, but I think he sees our Coach Dave as the polar opposite of Fletcher Brandt. That’s probably one reason he has been so supportive of our coach. I think you would agree that Dean’s support certainly hasn’t hurt Coach Dave’s ability to coach our team the way he wants.”
“For sure,” I answered. “Why does Dean have so much credibility among the dads?”
“You know that Dean played pro ball, something nobody from Southburg had ever done before. What you probably don’t know is that he won his team’s Player of the Year award in Double-A, and he had just gotten his first invitation to spring training. He was expected to make the big league club.”
Discover the circumstances that shaped Dean Ford and made him a key supporter of his son’s young coach in Coach Dave: Season One. Dive further into the conflict between Coach Dave’s coaching philosophy and that of his nemesis, Fletcher Brandt.