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Friday, Apr. 18, 2014

Parker: Corbin's favor a treat for locals

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

If you didn't join the crowd at Cascade High School, and judging by the numbers you probably didn't, then you missed out on a fine meal and a great opportunity.

(Photo)
Tim Corbin addresses the crowd at Cascade.
(T-G Photo by Danny Parker)
Vanderbilt baseball coach Tim Corbin ventured down to Wartrace to speak to parents and adolescents about everything from the national pasttime to how precious life really is.

Corbin also signed numerous photographs, posed for pictures and talked hardball with local citizens and baseball people from Shelbyville Central to Community to Riverdale. Many presidential candidates had fewer flashbulbs go off in their faces on Monday night.

But, why on earth would a coach as well-respected as Corbin drive out to the middle of nowhere to give a speech?

Simple. He's not a guy who thinks he's God's gift to the game and is a friend who does things for other friends like Cascade coach Chris Parker.

"He does have the national stature and he's led Vanderbilt to great heights but to me he's just a friend of mine in the game of baseball and that's one of the beauties about this game, you get all kinds of friends and acquaintances," Parker said. "I've gotten to know him over my years here at Cascade, and I consider him a friend of mine."

"I've known (Parker) for the past couple of years, respect him, like him," said Corbin, who came out to watch the Champions in action at least twice last season. "It's enjoyable to come over here to watch ballgames as well. He's got good kids, very competitive kids. It's a small community and a community much like the community I grew up in."

Quality people, regardless of their profession, know their roots. Corbin was raised in Wolfeboro, N.H., and worked as a busboy, dishwasher and on the grill at a restaurant similar to the Bell Buckle Café.

"I've got a spot in my heart for places like this that stick together and produce winning kids."

Corbin's résumé is quite impressive.

Over the last three years, he's had 29 Commodores drafted, including 13 in 2005. If you're scratching your head, yes, only nine are allowed in the field at a time. Pretty amazing, right?

He's two wins shy of 200, guided Vandy to their first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance in 24 years and their first-ever Super Regional, which they swept in three games back in '04.

After successfully starting the program over from scratch at Presbyterian (S.C.) College, he became an assistant at Clemson for nine seasons. The Tigers went 434-172 over that time.

He can bling with the best when he wants after also earning a gold medal from the 2000 version of Team USA in the World Championships.

So, Parker's reaching out to him was a shot in the dark at best. But, Corbin is more likely to talk over the pros and cons of the wheel play than hang out his office shining up his numerous coach of the year plaques.

The relationship between Corbin and Parker started casually and developed from there.

"I have a great-uncle that used to teach at Clemson University that called and told David (Parker) about coach Corbin when he was coming to Nashville," Parker recollected. "I had my eye on him and kind of followed him and went to some Vanderbilt games and followed him in the newspaper. When I was in Warren County my last year I sent him an e-mail and told him I would like to work baseball camp and he said sure, come on.

(Photo)
Corbin poses for a photo with some local youth baseball players.
(T-G Photo by Danny Parker)
"I went to work for him and had to be there when the chickens crowed."

Too bad it's not that easy to get to know the best coaches in the country in other sports. Baseball is a little different. On the collegiate level it's much more of a thrown-back approach as opposed to a sport where you likely need to be a booster or in a club to toss up question after question about strategy.

"I trust (Parker's) ability to evaluate kids when we're talking about recruiting and those types of things," Corbin said. "I just really appreciate the way he goes about teaching these guys a tremendous passion for the game of baseball. It's easy to fall in love with people like that."

If you are a baseball fan of any level you should be ashamed for not showing up.

In a town where baseball appears to gradually be taking a back seat to cell phones, the Internet, cable TV and soccer, a lover of the game would have a hard time finding a better way to toss out $10.

"He doesn't always talk about the game of baseball," Parker said. "When he speaks, a lot of time it has a deeper, true meaning. He talks a lot about having character and that's a word I use a lot with my boys."

Danny Parker
Here's my take

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