Coach and Mentor
May 8, 2019 (Second Segment)
After finishing a stellar athletic career in football and baseball at Flint Central High School, Jose was hired to coach a fledgling group of 9 and 10-year-olds in Flint’s Midget Baseball League. Working as he did for the team sponsor, Paul and Marlene Heddy of Heddy Decorators (whose son Wally Heddy played on the team), he was tasked with whipping them in to shape. At the time in Flint, the organized baseball leagues weren’t all that organized. Most of the players' dads were working in the "shop" (auto plant), and coaches were sparse. It was a real tribute to both the Heddys and Jose that they embarked on a journey like this willingly. It must have been a good thing, because they would continue to pay Jose to do the job for three years, and Jose would continue to happily and successfully stay at it for that time frame.
Most of the players on Jose’s squad had never played a minute of organized baseball, and those that did had been part of a self-managed contingent of 7, 8, and 9 year olds who had competed the previous year in the same league without a win. This wasn’t all that surprising given the fact that some of the teams these first, second and third graders were playing against included guys who would be receiving drivers licenses in a couple of years, and draft cards in less than 72 months in some cases!
Despite these challenges the first Heddy Decorators team managed to win the Kearsley Park Consolation championship (third place) and head to the Flint City Playoffs. They repeated the trick the following year, and in 1977 they won the Center Championship with an unbeaten record and advanced in to the Flint Midget Quarter Finals. Unfortunately, for the team, in the middle of the play offs, Jose accepted a job with General Motors (where he remains employed to this day), and that meant a last minute replacement manager, and an exit from the playoffs for the Decorators. Still, it was a heckuva three year run for this once motley crew of players, now turned champions. The core of the team remained largely unchanged through three seasons, and many of the players went on to play at the Junior High and High School levels where more City and league Championships awaited.
It remains a testament to the leadership, teaching, and interpersonal skills of Jose that the players on those teams revere him to this day. A true Flintstone, Eastside and Flint Central Indian indeed. But to the merry band of baseball-loving miscreants he led, he remains the Captain of the Heddy Decorator Ship for all time. Thats a legacy that will shine on for many decades to come in ways large and small.