Categorized | Baseball, Sports

Major leaguer Lance Berkman impressed with Marble Falls baseball

JENNIFER FIERRO • PICAYUNE STAFF

Marble Falls head baseball coach J.T. Blair (left) shakes hands with Houston Second Baptist assistant coach Lance Berkman after their teams' 4-4 tie at the Hill Country Mustang Winter Classic tournament Feb. 21. Berkman played for the Houston Astros, the St. Louis Cardinals and the Texas Rangers before retiring this year. Photo by Kelly McDuffie/kellymcduffiephotography.com

Marble Falls head baseball coach J.T. Blair (left) shakes hands with Houston Second Baptist assistant coach Lance Berkman after their teams’ 4-4 tie at the Hill Country Mustang Winter Classic tournament Feb. 21. Berkman played for the Houston Astros, the St. Louis Cardinals and the Texas Rangers before retiring this year. Photo by Kelly McDuffie/kellymcduffiephotography.com

MARBLE FALLS — Lance Berkman retired from Major League Baseball, but he didn’t retire from the sport.

These days, he can be found in the Houston Second Baptist dugout as an assistant coach.

Berkman retired a month ago, citing continuing issues with his right knee, which was the same injury that forced him to miss 73 games with the Texas Rangers last season.

He was part of the “Killer Bs” along with Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio when the Houston Astros reached the 2005 World Series, their only appearance in club history. Of his 15 years in the majors, Berkman spent 10-plus with Houston.

He also played for Rice University and calls Houston home. Berkman helped the St. Louis Cardinals win the 2011 World Series.

“My body is to the point now that I could probably do it for a day or so,” he said about playing pro baseball. “I’m at peace with it.”

So after Houston Second Baptist played to a 4-4 tie with the Marble Falls High School baseball team at the Hill Country Mustang Classic on Feb. 21, Berkman reflected on his month with his new team.

“I love it,” he said with a grin. “It’s great to have a chance to take everything I’ve learned in 20 years in professional baseball and pass it on. We have a great team.”

Berkman addressed the players during one half inning while they played the Mustangs. At the time, Marble Falls was rallying and eventually tied the contest.

The former major leaguer praised the efforts of both teams, noting they brought out the best in each other. Each side made the other play error-free ball and make great plays by stretching for balls, sliding for stolen bases and eliminating mental mistakes.

“This Marble Falls team is extremely well-coached,” he said. “I was very impressed with their effort and attitude. (Head coach J.T. Blair) is doing an outstanding job. I love the competition. It’s fun to come out here and see kids get after it. I guess it’s a win-win for both squads. Their guys have a lot of fans and make a lot of noise.

“I know that’s a tough team,” he added as he looked at the Marble Falls home dugout. “We played them tough. I feel our guys can compete with anybody.”

What drives Berkman now is sharing with his players the part of his game that made him successful: his faith. As a coach, he’s responsible for about 20 players, he said, and, to him, that goes beyond helping them learn the basics of the sport.

Berkman said he believes each individual has been given certain abilities to help them accomplish great things. So being a coach now is simply an extension of his baseball talent, he said. He called helping his players strengthen their faith his “No. 1 priority.”

“We’re a Christian school,” he said. “It’s an honor to develop young men, who are committed to the Lord. We try to help them on their journey.”

jfierro@thepicayune.com

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