March 4, 2018

WHEEL MAN:

McGee's coaching lessons go beyond just baseball (Rick Hummel, 3/04/18, St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

McGee, hired as a Cardinals coach in the off-season, pointed to several men who had helped him, starting with "Mr. Ricketts," he said, referring to longtime Cardinals coach and instructor Dave Ricketts. "I had a number of teachers, from George Hendrick to Ozzie (Smith) to Bruce Sutter to Bob Forsch."

Hendrick, the Cardinals' veteran right fielder, enjoyed having fun at rookie McGee's expense in 1982, but there were teaching moments, too.

"You're going to earn that Gold Glove," Hendrick said to McGee. As they stood together in the outfield, Hendrick told McGee, "I've got this (foul) line.

"Then," McGee said, "he took a couple of steps away from it and said, 'You've got the rest.'"

"Sometimes," McGee said, laughing, "the ball would be hit between us and he'd just be pointing at it."

But Hendrick had a serious side, and he mentored McGee just as McGee has done with Pham.

"When I would have a tough game and we'd be driving home, he'd be playing his jazz and chewing his gum like there isn't anything happening," McGee said. "I wasn't even sleeping when I had a bad game.

"I finally get enough nerve to ask him, 'George, how do you do it?'"

"Do what?" responded Hendrick.

"Well, you struck out twice," McGee said.

"He said, 'Willie, it's like a wheel.' And he points at the steering wheel."

Then, motioning at various parts of the wheel going clockwise, Hendrick said, "You're here and you're here and you're here ... and then you're back here (at the top)."

"It put it in perspective for me," McGee said. "As I got older, I realized as long as I was able to stay healthy and didn't have anything off the field to distract me, you always wind up where you're supposed to be. It's like a wheel."

Posted by at March 4, 2018 8:06 AM

  

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