Friendship Village Coach for a Day

Tuesday, August 12, 2014
by Kevin Jackman

Thousands of fans have visited Boomer Stadium and taken in games before, but never quite like this. Arriving early to watch batting practice from field level, conversing with coaches and relaxing in the press box suite were just some of the pre-game perks of Paul Mierkiewicz’s day in Schaumburg. As a resident at the Friendship Village of Schaumburg, a proud partner of the Schaumburg Boomers, Mierkiewicz, 74, was selected to be an honorary coach of the day on August 8 for the defending Frontier League Champs.

Arriving mid-afternoon, the first order of business for Coach Paul was a change in clothing; tonight he would be donning the pearly white home uniform of the Schaumburg Boomers. After buttoning up the number 31 on his back and completing the attire with the proper white pants and black belt, it was time for Coach Paul to head out on to the field. Emerging from the tunnel and sidestepping the florescent, bold ‘S’ behind home plate, Coach Paul nestled in behind the batting cage. Following brief introductions with the coaching staff, including Manager Jamie Bennett, the honorary coach watched on as Justin Vasquez, Gerard Hall and Tony Delmonico sent ball after ball soaring into the outfield gaps. At the conclusion of BP, aside from the terrific hitting display, the main take away for Coach Paul: what a beautiful field and what a beautiful day for baseball.

It was time for Coach Paul to come up to the press box and relax before the main entrée of the night. Sitting, looking out over the field, Coach Paul recounted stories of his life, especially in and around sports. He discussed attending his first Super Bowl in 1985 as his hometown Bears captured the crown and, after a one year hiatus, traveling to the following eight Super Bowls. He talked about his children, two boys and three girls, all of whom have ventured into their own careers and families, giving him at least one grandkid apiece. He told stories of his little league coaching days, showing that he was no stranger to the coaching tag attached to his name for the night. Perhaps the highlight story came when he fondly recalled his first experience at a professional baseball game at historic Wrigley Field. At the age of 6, Coach Paul’s father took him to a Cubs game and mid way through his father noticed that his son’s gaze wasn’t affixed on the field, rather, on the sailboats dotting the horizon on Lake Michigan. Laughing, Coach Paul said, “My father swore he would never take me to another game for me to watch sailboats!”

With under an hour before first pitch it was time for the honorary coach to head down. Traveling through the inner-workings of the stadium, stepping down through the tunnel, and emerging in to the first base side dugout at Boomer Stadium, Coach Paul was situated in the spot he would call home for the rest of the night. Throughout the game he gazed on, no sailboats to distract, but rather a pair of run scoring doubles from Delmonico that were reminiscent of the ones he had seen just a few hours earlier in batting practice. Honorary Coach Paul Mierkiewicz was watching a championship team at work, just as he did nearly 30 years ago, except this time he wasn’t one of the thousands in the stands, but one of the few on the field.