A Note From Bob Germano
On 1/29/19 I published a post (click here) about how there is a little Park Ridge in the NJ Vipers. Therein I referenced the coaches who influenced me the most and in effect have a lot of influence on the NJ Vipers. One of the coaches I referenced was Frank Daniel.
I learned yesterday that Coach Daniel died in a car accident on February 19th in Surprise, AZ. He was 79 years old. Someone asked me how old he was and I remembered instantly…in gym class one time has asked the class when was the last year the NY Rangers won a Stanley Cup? The hint he gave was “it was the year I was born”, and I yell out “1940!”. I always remembered that.
Coach Daniel was an amazing mentor, coach and friend…someone I stayed in touch with all the way through.
Coach Daniel’s two nicknames were “Buddy” and “Flip”. Buddy as part of his cadence of talking and rooting you on, (“Come on now Buddddyyyy”), and Flip for always winning the coin flip at home plate. He probably lost twice…all time.
Coach Daniel made his first impression on me as a seventh grader when in a combined gym session for 7-9 graders he threw a 9th grader out of class for the day, sending him to the front office. All of a sudden I hear a yell that scared the you know what out of me, and would become all too familiar in later years. I turned to whoever was sitting next to me and said “I hope we don’t get that guy.”
Coach Daniel was my JV Soccer coach & JV Baseball coach my Freshman year. Boy did I learn how to compete at another level. Not only did I learn how to work hard for a starting position, but I started learning the game within the game, especially for baseball. A former pitcher, Coach Daniel was the go to guy. While my pitching career was unsensational, I was serviceable enough only because of his guidance and tutelage. I learned how to chart pitches, ideal & target pitch counts, what pitch to throw in what count, how to throw curve balls the right way (“get your separation up high and pull the shade down Germano!”) and more. He taught me how to situational hit, how to lift the ball…had me take batting practice with a wood bat to learn the sweet spot. He was the coach who told me I was going to Varsity and he did not ever want to see me back again.
Coach Daniel elevated to Varsity Soccer and I became an All League player under him (yes, Bob Germano played soccer). I remember a practice where an underclassman said to me during a play “Nice try Bobby, get it next time” and I responded “Nice try’s don’t work here, I will not ever let that happen again”. I had no idea Coach Daniel heard that or was in earshot…he named me a team captain the next day.
He was such a sports fan…especially the SF Giants. During the 1986 Game 6 for the Mets vs. Astros, he was wearing a winter hat for our soccer game so nobody could see his walkman headphones that he was listening to the game with. I asked him every break what the score was.
Coach Daniel was at every big game down the stretch our varsity baseball teams played…coming along to coach 1st base for state, county and late league games. The end of my HS career had Coach Kolb on 3rd and Coach Daniel at 1st…a lot of symmetry to have them bookend like that. Ironic they each passed around the same time.
Coach Daniel was also the Driver’s Education teacher. Within a week of my turning 16, he showed up at my house and says “Bobby, I will be here tomorrow at 9am to take you out driving. We will be done in three days. All you have to do is bring me a Pepsi every morning.”
As I got older and out of college, competitive fast pitch men’s softball was what all the former ball players and athletes in the Pascack Valley area did. Park Ridge Men’s Softball in those days had 4 levels of play and > 60 teams. Coach Daniel was one of the umpires in that league. Always called the low strike. I remember being in a real tight, competitive game one night at Memorial and the pitcher had me down in the count 0-2. Some Rockland County guy. I look back at Coach Daniel and ask “Blue, one and two right?” I was trying to get a little edge against a tough pitcher. I hear him say “um, yeah, 1-2” and the clicker clicks for the ball I just manufactured. I end up working the count via foul balls and balls to what would have been 3-2, but I drop the bat and run to first base to sell the walk. The pitcher questions the walk saying it was only ball three. The manager of the other team starts yelling at Coach Daniel that the count is wrong. Meanwhile I am standing at 1st base. The manager will not stop berating him and all of a sudden I hear, in the same voice as in the gym in seventh grade “Don’t you go telling me I got the count wrong. You get the hell out of here…YOU’RE GONE!” He threw the guy out. I am trying not to laugh but I was in top competitive mode…I mean after all, what is more important than winning a men’s league softball game when you are 23 years old? Now the pitcher is rattled, hasn’t thrown a ball in about 5 minutes…we get back to back hits and end up winning the game. I never told him that story.
Coach Daniel always had a story of some game he saw. My guess is he saw more professional and college games than anyone I ever met. Baseball, soccer, football, basketball, hockey…did not matter. He saw them all. When I was about 24 or 25 he would sell me half the games from his Seton Hall Season Ticket package. Of course he had front row, center court right behind the TV and radio guys. I asked him how he got such good seats and he says, “Bobby, I used to go watch Army play football in the 70’s. They would play some games at Giants Stadium and I had season tickets. When they built the arena, I got a letter in the mail that I could buy college basketball tickets too. I mailed it in that day and these are the seats we got. Pretty good hunh”? When we would go together, we would meet at The Crow’s Nest on Rte 17 for dinner, then to the game.
I stayed in touch with Coach over the years…often emailing baseball articles or commentaries back and forth. He shared sympathies when my mom passed away in 2016 and I had him committed to coming out for Coach Kolb’s ceremony this spring. Our ceremony will now have to be for both of these great icons of Park Ridge sports, especially Park Ridge Baseball.
I am thankful for all he did for me as a kid, young adult and grown man. I am honored to pay forward many of the lessons he taught me to the players in the NJ Vipers. While I hope he is coaching with Coach Kolb right now, I think he is probably at a Field of Dreams watching a game of his heroes.
I am honored, humbled and lucky to have played for Coach Daniel, and even more so to have him as a friend.
Rest in peace Coach!
Pictured below with Coaches Kolb (left) and Daniel (right) at my induction into the PRHS Hall of Fame in 2003. Combined these coaches won more than 500 games in their careers for PR Baseball.
By this time they probably forgot more things than I will ever know about the game.