Veteran baseball coach teaches techniques, life lessons in new book

Jay Hinton
Glen Rose Reporter
Rick Carpenter is the author of "From the Backyard to the Big Leagues: How a Hall of Fame Coach Raised 2 Professional Baseball Players."

GLEN ROSE — When Rick Carpenter finally retired in 2019 after four decades as a coach and educator, he had built a lengthy resume.

The Cincinnati native racked up 883 career wins as a head baseball coach, and won four state titles (three at Elkins High School and one at Prosper) and a national championship. He has been inducted into the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame, the Elkins Baseball Hall of Fame, Franklin High School Hall of Fame and the Prosper ISD Athletic Hall of Honor, and he has a field named after him in Elkins.

In addition, he sent 34 players into professional baseball, including his two sons, and countless others into college baseball.

Less than a year into his retirement, his son Matt, a three-time all-star and Silver Slugger award winner for the St. Louis Cardinals and former TCU Horned Frog, urged him to write a book because of the uniqueness of having two sons play professional baseball, and the book is titled “From the Backyard to the Big Leagues: How a Hall of Fame Coach Raised 2 Professional Baseball Players."

“I don’t want to sound cliche or corny, it is a fact that most people who are in my line of work — coaching and teaching — do it because they love helping kids. They love helping people,” he said from his home in Glen Rose. “That’s why I wrote it. I hope it helps people along the way.”

From the first word to the last word, Carpenter said his first foray into writing a book took him 6-8 months to complete. He thought he was done at two months, but he and others kept coming up with new ideas and topics for the book.

“I’m so partial to the content. It’s basically a family history, and I tied it into my coaching, too,” said Carpenter, who along with his wife Tammie reared three children: Matt, Tyler and Caitlyn.

Using his children, his players and teams as examples, Carpenter’s book will help parents teach life lessons while raising their children who play sports.

“I’ve met many parents over the years who struggle to know the right thing to do for their child’s career,” he said on the book’s website backyardtobigleagues.com. “There’s more competition now than ever. And there’s more information, too. It can be worrying to not have clarity on exactly what your son needs in order to succeed.”

And he said his book can help with that clarity by showing what worked for him and his wife while they raised their family.

“I can’t guarantee your son a scholarship. I’m not claiming I’m some kind of genius, nor did I discover some ‘magic’ formula,” Carpenter said on the book’s website. “But we were successful in helping our boys play their chosen sport at a very high level.”

In his book, Carpenter, who wore No. 14 in honor of his hero Pete Rose during his career, covers such topics as a simple road map to success; drills and coaching techniques for all ages; building confidence; encouragement vs. criticism; and navigating through high school and college athletics, among other topics.

In Chapter 5 “Sign Them Up and Get Them Out There” Carpenter wrote: “I think getting your kids into as many activities as possible has a positive effect on their mental and social development. We got our kids into church immediately so they could learn about Jesus and to also learn how to be around other kids. Any social setting that you can put them in will develop their personality and people skills, along with developing confidence.”

In Chapter 4 “Challenge Them Early” Carpenter instructs: “Teach them early to get out of their comfort zone and it will make them more susceptible to change in all aspects of life, hopefully.”

Insights and instructions like these are found throughout the book, and it is drawing great reviews from giants inside the baseball circle.

“This book is a must read and a manual for all coaches, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, on how to better their relationship through sport,” said TCU baseball coach and four-time College World Series participant Jim Schlossnagle, who coached Matt for five seasons. "I consider myself blessed to have a front-row seat, watching Coach Carpenter and Matt continually evolve as father/son, player/coach and ultimately best friends. I envy their relationship and strive to follow their lead with my son."

"The Carpenter family epitomizes what we should all strive for as parents in regard to not only raising great athletes but also setting a foundation for our children to be successful adults,” said Todd Whitting, head baseball coach at the University of Houston.

The book is currently available for pre-order for $25 (will retail for $40) at backyardtobigleagues.com. Those who pre-order will also get the ebook at no additional cost.

“If this book is a bestseller or is a flop it doesn’t matter because I had a blast writing it,” he said. “It was simply a walk down memory lane.”