3 HR Curtain Call
The name “Tuffy Rhodes” invokes a number of memories from baseball fans of the 1990′s. Perhaps you remember his 3 home run opening day display against Doc Gooden on April 4, 1994 (only opening day 3 HR game in NL history). Or you remember his improbable Japanese league stardom in which he hit 55 home runs to tie the legendary Sadaharu Oh for a single season record, or his 474 home runs (!) over 14 seasons in Japan, his longevity classifying him as an “official” Japanese player, the only American to receive such status.
These days, Rhodes is coaching The Homeschool Christian Youth Association boys basketball team, according to Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle. Rhodes 18-year old son T.J. plays for the team, and according to the article, Tuffy is more than qualified for the position.
Steve Decker, HCYA program and athletic director, said the Warriors had previous coaches who didn’t work out. The job’s more of a parental-volunteer role than a glamorous high school gig, despite the presence of a premier NCAA prospect. Travel and scheduling are demanding. Resources can be tight. Dedication is at a premium.
Rhodes has excelled. The first-year head coach critiques and analyzes, combining tough love with real heart. He keeps an eye on his son and shapes [D1 prospect Jr. Justin] Jackson’s raw talent, all while allowing the Warriors to be teenagers. HCYA’s favorite Tuffy tease: When their aging coach hurls a towel, players remind Rhodes not to throw out his arm.
“He knows the game very well, and he has very good rapport with the kids,” said Decker, who acknowledged he knew nothing about Rhodes’ baseball past when the ex-Astro joined HCYA.
Tuffy wanted to play hoops and hardball in college, but couldn’t find a school that would give him the lattitude to play both. Overall this is a great story about a guy who’s major league baseball career didn’t work out as planned, but found other avenues to display his talents, got to travel the world, and now is doing something he loves, coaching his son in basketball.
His opening day theatrics, with the late Hall of Fame announcer Harry Caray on the call of the first two.
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