Fox’s stories bring the game to life

Published 8:09 am Sunday, November 28, 2010

Staff Writer

A former Marine, a businessman and a former NASA employee – all one person- became an accidental writer for the love of the game of baseball.
Richard Fox, Coach Fox, or just, “Fox,” as people know him, said he never set out to write a book. It was an accident really, but one that he knew he had to “make.”
“There are no short answers, as the book and experiences are a culmination of numerous ‘life’ issues,” Fox said.
According to Fox, he came up with the idea to write a book on the teachings of baseball as he has always jokingly stated that baseball is the only thing he really knows about.
“Plus, when I had a career, a major part of my value to client companies, was researching their company, analyzing the marketplace and writing Business Plans,” he said. “In fact, I have written two other very small books in the past. One for Job Candidates on interviewing and writing resumes, and one technical guide for NASA on the details of high resolution, multi-spectral imagery for global crop health detection.”
According to Fox, he’s known leagues need coaches but no one ever takes the time to teach them how to coach,.
“And with the growth of ladies softball, thousands of young mothers or participants would like to coach, need to coach, if they just had a way to get started – thus the book,” he said.
Fox chose Terra Ceia Christian School as the featured softball team in his book because it was the first girls team he helped with, as he became very close with the players.
“We worked hard and we could see and feel progress in skills and I hope life’s issues of dedication, confidence, team building on and off the field,” he said.
According to Fox, he received a call from the Chicago White Sox to help re-build the marketing and business process of their Triple A, Charlotte Knights team.
However, after managing four companies, building one subdivision, one interstate commercial park and with several close friends passing away, including his son and both parents, Fox said he just needed to get out of town.
“But instead of working for the Knights, I got a job offer from Citigroup Smith-Barney,” he said.
And it was there that he met his future wife, who just happened to originally be from Washington.
“In fact, after a lifetime of fairly prestigious business careers, controlling so much,” he said. “I no longer wanted to control anything, which was fine with me.”
Ashley Harris, head coach for the girls softball team at Terra Ceia, has known Fox for several years and has worked on the field with him, as well as at the batting cage, known just as The Cage, where Fox did his instruction. The Terra Ceia Lady Knights use it for batting and pitching practice.
“It’s not just the level of knowledge he brings to an instructional situation or game,” Harris said of Fox. “It’s the ease in which he transfers that knowledge to students and coaches, in a manner that achieves quick lasting results.”
Harris has coached baseball since the early 90’s when his son started playing Tee-Ball. However, Harris said he was not a coach’s coach, but was rather thrown into it because his son played the game.
“I didn’t know the game of baseball all that well, at least not enough to coach it,” he said. “Not until I met Coach Fox. The way he explains the game and techniques just makes everything in your head click.”
According to Harris, the reason Fox’s impact was so immediate and dramatic was the way in which he was able to connect with the kids in transferring his fundamental baseball knowledge into their improvement, and the way he was able to relate to the parents.
“He’s a ‘Natural’ in his own right,” Harris said.
Fox added that he and Harris are perfectly complimentary coaches – Harris with a commitment and spirit of the school and team, and Fox with the technical training.
Phil Wolfson, close friend of Fox, said he has not only addressed the mechanics of coaching and the intricacies of sports instruction, but does so by relating a higher understanding of motivation, change and personal improvement.
“Drawing from a diverse background in human resources, training and development and agribusiness, Coach Fox has set the foundation for a transportable model designed to inspire, motivate and instruct the reader in the psychology of self improvement,” Wolfson said. “He literally explains the steps required in taking each player, the team and coaches to the next level.”
Fox added most training books are “X’s” and “O’s”, and hopes this book is a revolution of the spirit of the game.
“The stories bring the game and surroundings to life, in reality,” he said. “They were kind of fun to write, recalling all the people and situations and trying to properly present the boundaries of involvement.”
According to Fox, there are several types of stories, and is not sure they will be broadly understood, but he says that’s okay.
“I’ve never been broadly understood myself,” he said.
The book is available at I Can’t Believe It’s A Bookstore on Main Street in Washington, where Fox will be for a book signing on Dec. 11 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.