Robert McCorkle was recently featured in the Fulton County Daily Report article "Savannah Dad Teaches—and Learns—as Little League Coach"
The 37yearold McCorkle started coaching his son’s Little League team in Savannah and the experience was
both more challenging, and more rewarding, that he thought it would be. McCorkle said he grew up playing
baseball, but he didn’t realize until he got to a preseason coaching clinic that he actually didn’t have the right
techniques for basic things like pitching and hitting.
Although he worried about the time away from his law practice and other family duties, he realized that
coaching Little League became one of his favorite things to do.
McCorkle discussed his first year as head coach of the Scrappers (named for the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, a
minor league team in Niles, Ohio) and his future plans as a youth baseball coach.
Did you play baseball growing up?
I played all my life growing up in Savannah, all the way through middle school. My coach when I played was a
Why did you decide to coach Little League?
I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I had never coached one of my children before, and I had
not coached Little League before. It’s become a bit of a coaching adventure, because now I’m coaching my son’s
basketball team. It’s fun to see how much you have retained and much of that you are going to teach them.
What was your goal when you started coaching?
As a coach, you feel an obligation to give them some fundamentals, so when they move up, they’ve been doing
something right from the beginning. When you’ve got 5yearolds
you show them, "This is how
you throw the baseball. This is the batting stance."
A lot of these kids have never thrown a baseball before, or tried to hit a ball that’s thrown to them. You can’t get
into the specifics of baseball that you can with a middleschooler.
But you can at least do the basics of it, getting
them to have the proper batting stance, throwing the ball correctly, all those kinds of things.
Baseball is the hardest sport for the little kids because you’ve got the most downtime of any sport. With
basketball or soccer, you’re running around all the time. And with baseball you are rarely in motion. With nine
or 10 players on the field, keeping them in position is maybe the hardest thing to do, or keeping them still on the
bench and not beating each other with baseball bats.
How much did you know about coaching before you started?
The city of Savannah had a clinic, teaching coaches how to coach baseball. They told us how to properly swing
a bat and throw a ball. It’s shocking—you think your whole life you know how to do something, then you learn
that you didn’t know the right way.
How do you handle a situation of playing a child when he or she may not be as good as the other players
on the team?
We play everyone. We try to keep the number of players at 12 to 13. They’re all getting out on the field and
they’re all batting. You’re not having to choose your nine players, because they all play. I tried to move the kids
around in the batting order so some of them didn’t feel like they were always batting last.
It’s all about having fun. The first thing we did on the first day of practice was to have them learn what the bases
were. They didn’t know the right side from the left side. We would yell out "first base!" or "second base!" or
"home plate!" whenever they would touch it.
What are the rules for your league?
Some leagues will do machinepitch
baseball, no matter what their ages are. But we chose the city of
Savannah’s baseball league, which has coachpitch
because it allows the coach to pitch differently to different
kids. The kids who are better, you can pitch harder and faster, and that allows you to adjust how to you pitch to
them. And in the field, we played everyone.
We have more than nine players on the field at the same time. At this age group, we don’t keep score and the
whole team bats all the way through in every inning. Whoever bats last in the inning hits a home run. What’s
funny about that is that it helps protect the kids from getting upset when they lose.
But even at 5 or 6 years old, they’re keeping score. They want to know who’s winning and who’s losing. The
first question that’s always asked is, "Who won?" If the intent is to protect them from competition, they’re all
keeping score. The competitiveness is coming.
The way you have it set up, does that eliminate the problem of parents getting angry?
I didn’t have any issues with parents, nor did I witness it from other parents on the other teams. Yes, it does
eliminate the parenting issues for now, but which I’m sure will arise later on.
I was lucky to have a lot of dads and moms who were very helpful. A mom was our bench coach and her job
was to make sure everyone was sitting on the bench. And there were multiple dads on the field, keeping the kids
from sitting down [and] picking weeds.
Are you going to coach again next season?
Yes, I do plan to coach again. We’re already working on the roster for the league this spring. We’re working on
figuring out the three or four kids we need to replace on the roster.
Have you taken your son to a professional baseball game?
I’ve taken him to a minorleague
game, to a Savannah Sand Gnats game at Grayson Stadium in Savannah. And
I’ve taken him and my daughter to a Braves game in Atlanta. But at 6 years old, he’s more into eating cotton
candy or getting Dippin’ Dots ice cream than looking at what the score is.
What do you like best about coaching Little League baseball?
When you’re dealing with legal issues that are life and death, getting out there with 6yearold
boys and playing
baseball, and leaving the office early to get there by 5 or 5:30, it is truly the best part of my week. It’s incredible
what a stress reliever it is. It’s really hard to worry about work when you are out there.