AUSTIN, Texas – Former big-leaguer Calvin Schiraldi returned to the University of Texas’ Disch-Falk Field Monday morning, only this time not as an All-American right-hander for the Longhorns.
Schiraldi was back at Disch-Falk as the head coach of Action Baseball Club 17u White, which reached the semifinal round of the Perfect Game WWBA South Qualifier.
Both semifinal games and the championship game of the tournament are being played at Disch-Falk on Monday. The South Qualifier champion picks up a paid invitation to the WWBA World Championship which will be played Oct. 20-24 in Jupiter, Fla.
Schiraldi’s collegiate and professional playing days are now far behind him. He has lived in the Austin area for 45 years and has been the head baseball coach at St. Michael’s Catholic High School for the past 16 years. The South Qualifier used the field at St. Michael’s as one of its venues.
Schiraldi, 49, started doing some coaching with the Action Baseball Club when his son, Lukas, began playing for an ABC team four years ago.
“I kind of like the way things are (within the organization),” Schiraldi said on a sunny 60-degree morning while sitting on a chair next to the visitor’s dugout on the Disch-Falk playing field. “The kids we had were really solid players and it’s just kind of evolved from there.
“I love working with the kids at this level,” he continued. “They want to learn and they’re very coachable, and that’s what I enjoy about it.”
Schiraldi recalled a brief conversation he had with one of his players when ACB 17u White was trailing the Brazos Valley Renegades by one run in Saturday night’s quarterfinal round of the South Qualifier:
“We’re sitting there and we’re down by a run, and he said, ‘Coach, I just really want to (play) at Disch-Falk. I’ve dreamed of playing there for four years.’ I said, ‘Well, you’re coming up third and you’re going to be the one to make or break us, so it’s up to you if you want to get there.’ The kid gets a base hit, ties the game and scores the winning run.
“That’s just one of those things when you just kind of go, ‘Huh, now that’s kind of interesting.’”
Schiraldi pitched on three College World Series teams from 1981-83 while at UT, and was the Most Valuable Player of the 1983 CWS when the Longhorns won what was then their fourth national title. He was also named an All-American in 1983.
The New York Mets selected Schiraldi with the No. 27 pick overall in the first round of the 1983 MLB amateur draft, and he made his major league debut with the Mets on Sept. 1, 1984. He spent eight years in the big leagues with the Mets, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, San Diego Padres and Texas Rangers, finishing with a career record of 32-39 with an ERA of 4.28, mostly working out of the bullpen.
The exception was 1988 when the Cubs decided to make Schiraldi a starter. He made 27 starts that season, and finished 9-13 with a 4.38 ERA while striking out 140 in 166 1/3 innings.
Schiraldi was a big bullpen presence on the 1986 Red Sox team that played in the World Series. He made his last big league appearance on July 3, 1991, went back to school to get his degree and coaching certificate and has been coaching at the high school level ever since.
Along the way, he has gained an appreciation for Perfect Game events like the WWBA South Qualifier. His son, Lukas, played in last year’s event, which was also held in Austin-Round Rock area.
“They’re very beneficial for the kids, and that’s what so good about it. They get seen by people that normally won’t come out,” Schiraldi said. “My group is (mostly) 17 years old, but I’ve got 15-year-olds. (They) will be seen by a lot of college people and some pro people that ordinarily they wouldn’t get a chance to be seen by.
“It’s beneficial for the kids for their futures with colleges and, hopefully, even the pros.”
Watching the youngsters develop and mature is where Schiraldi gains his greatest satisfaction.
“That’s what’s really good about coaching high school,” he said. “I’ll get a kid as a freshman, and to watch them grow up, that’s what’s really cool. They can be a real turd when they’re 15 but when they’re 18 they become young men, and that’s what’s so interesting about coaching high school kids.”
The Dallas Patriots-Valdez eliminated Action Baseball Club 17u White from the South Qualifier with a 9-4 win Monday morning’s first semifinal.