For many of us involved in athletics, we dream of one day coming back to coach at our alma mater. For Gary Adams, not only did he achieve this dream, he got to be mentored by none other than John Wooden. His book, Conversations with Coach Wooden: On Baseball, Heroes, and Life, is a great book talking about his relationship with Coach Wooden and their mutual love of the game of baseball.
Through this book, Coach Adams has written a great legacy piece about Coach Wooden, as well as his outstanding baseball program.
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Here were some highlights of our conversation:
- Coach Adams grew up in Hamilton, Ohio, where he lived to the age of 14 before moving to California.
- how him and his twin brother got interested in baseball from their Uncle, who played in the minors
- idolizing future Major Leaguer Joe Nuxhall, who was seven years older, and remains the youngest player to play a major league game ever
- listening to Waite Hoyt broadcast Cincinnati Reds games and becoming an Ohio State fan
- playing baseball at UCLA, and observing John Wooden on campus
- getting hired to coach at UCLA, and how Coach Wooden came to share his office
- specific things he learned from Coach Wooden
- Coach Adams “Sphere of Commitment”, based on character, team, academics, career built around family & faith
- what was more important to Coach Wooden than winning?
- Coach Adams and Coach Wooden strongly believed in leading by example
- Coach Wooden’s sense of humor and the pigeon story
- what kind of baseball player was John Wooden?
- John Wooden’s “unique” baseball job offer
- challenge of writing this book
- Wooden’s reaction to a “bean ball” war between UCLA and Arizona State, when ASU was targeting Troy Glaus
- how both coaches became authors upon retiring from coaching
- the kinds of books Gary and his wife Sandra have written
- Gary wants his legacy to be “a normal person who was considerate of others”
Thank you to Gary for sharing his great stories. I highly recommend his book for anyone who is a baseball and/or John Wooden fan.