Pike’s new baseball coach is eager
by Nat Newell, Indy Star
New Pike High School baseball coach Michael Ruth took a few moments to talk to The Indianapolis Star about a career that’s been influenced by athletes ranging from Roberto Clemente to Michael Vick. Those experiences and others helped shape his coaching philosophy.
On accepting the job after initially turning it down: “I didn’t think I was ready, since I have a son, Jared, who’s in seventh grade at Lincoln Middle School, and I promised I’d coach him. After the job opened, I went home, prayed, talked with my pastor, Terry Webster, at New Corinthian Baptist Church, and my wife. What my pastor told me was, ‘When God opens a door, you have a good reason to walk through it.’ In a couple years, my son will be with me at Pike.”
On the role religion plays on his coaching: “My dad was a pastor. I was brought up in the church. I will not cuss at the kids. I give respect to the kids, and I’ll get it back. Character is important. Character can take you further than talent. Look at (suspended NFL players) Pacman Jones and Michael Vick.”
On his coaching philosophy: “We’ll put pressure on the defense by stealing bases and bunting. At Indiana State we ran and did all sorts of things offensively. I’ll take that into Pike. They’re young kids and still teachable. We’re going to create enthusiasm for baseball at Pike. Football, track, basketball, soccer . . . they’re all up at Pike. It’s our turn to get this baseball team up and running.”
On growing up a baseball fan: “My childhood dream was to be a professional baseball player. (Pittsburgh Pirates Hall of Famer) Roberto Clemente was my favorite player. Coming out of high school I had some small college offers for football, but I was 5-foot-7, 125 pounds, so baseball was more conducive to my size.”
On being one of two black varsity baseball coaches in the area: “One reason I believe there is a shortage of African-American baseball coaches is that, typically, a varsity coach is a teacher in the school. There are not many African-American males going into education.
“Secondly, you typically coach a game you have participated in and have had some success. African-American athletes tend not to play baseball after middle school. It’s a matter of preference. I enjoyed playing baseball and have accumulated valuable knowledge over the years that will help me be successful in coaching baseball.”