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Winning still in the cards for Brookens

May 20, 2004|by ANDY MASON

Talking with Tom Brookens on the phone the other night, I couldn't stop thinking this: I own baseball cards of this guy, who owns a World Series ring.But that doesn't seem to matter to the players on the Cumberland Valley Christian School softball team in Chambersburg, Pa.

"They just look at me as another dad that's coaching the team," said Brookens, a 1971 graduate of Chambersburg Area Senior High School. "It doesn't really matter that much to them. Sometimes some of my stories come out, but they just take it in stride."

Brookens, 50, of Fayetteville, Pa., played big-league baseball for 12 seasons, 1979-1990, predominantly as a third baseman. After 10 seasons with the Detroit Tigers, he played one year each with the New York Yankees and the Cleveland Indians.

In 1984, Brookens, who batted .246 with 71 home runs and 431 RBI for his career, helped the Tigers win the World Series.

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This spring, the second-year CVCS softball coach guided the Blazers to a 15-0 season, which they capped by beating Broadfording 11-0 last week for the Mason Dixon Christian Conference title.

While MDCC softball is a far cry from Major League Baseball, winning is winning and titles are titles.

"It's a little bit different," said Brookens, whose twin daughters, juniors Molly and Maggie, play for CVCS. "But it means as much to the girls as winning the World Series meant to me."

Brookens said his top priority is teaching his players the fundamentals of the game. Winning is just a happy byproduct.

"Winning and losing certainly isn't as important as it was when I was playing professionally," Brookens said. "But I still enjoy winning a whole lot more than I enjoy losing. I don't think that will ever change.

"I still get nervous in tight ballgames," he said. "It's a lot different being on the coaching side. You just have to sit back and watch. But it's fun. I really enjoy it. ... The girls always did what it took to win."

While the Blazers, who lose only ace pitcher Tessa Armstrong to graduation, should be strong again next year, Brookens doesn't plan to stay around long enough to build a dynasty.

"I look to coach next year, and then my girls will graduate and then I'll probably step down," he said.

Then, he might step up his coaching.

"I still have a lot of baseball in my blood," Brookens said. "I've kicked around the idea about getting back into the game professionally, maybe at the minor-league level in some capacity. I've talked to Detroit a little about it, and they seem pretty receptive. We just have to wait for the right thing to come around."

"That's where my heart still is," he said of Detroit. "Alan Trammell (the Tigers' manager and his former teammate) and I are still good buddies."

Brookens said his professional playing days "were a lot of fun but went by too fast."

However, his baseball cards still are out there, even if his Blazers aren't collecting them.

"I'm not too good at playing anymore, but I can still sign autographs," Brookens said. "Every now and then I get hit up for a couple."




Andy Mason is assistant sports editor of The Morning Herald. His column appears every other Thursday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2334, or by e-mail at andrewm@herald-mail.com

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