To play baseball the right way there must be respect for the game. That respect extends to the conditions of the field.
No one is more meticulous where field conditions are concerned than Glenbard South baseball coach and physical education teacher Mike Riley, who is retiring after this season, his 17th with the Raiders and 29th overall as a head coach.
It might seem a ticky-tack point to raise about an Illinois Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame inductee who has won more than 570 games plus five regional titles and six conference crowns.
It was important enough to Riley, though, to lay down the law before he came to Glenbard South from Rockford Guilford, where he’d enjoyed four straight 20-win seasons including a program-record 29-4 mark in 1997.
“When I first started here I basically told them I wasn’t coming unless the field was irrigated,” he said.
District 87 and parental donations came through with the irrigation systems. Glenbard South had its coach.
For Riley it was a round trip back to the area. A 1977 Hinsdale Central graduate, he began his teaching and coaching career there out of Southern Illinois University.
Despite his early, brash-sounding request Riley backed it up with diligence and vision, often taking maintenance matters into his own hands. Off days or before games, you may find him pushing a mower on the field.
When Riley had — or has — a question about ballpark maintenance, he’ll call up White Sox head groundskeeper Roger Bossard, a legend in that trade.