Baseball, like life, is a game of failure, Jerry Weiner says. And he wants to continue a baseball program at Dunwoody Park so others can learn from his experience.
“My dad likes to say baseball is a game of failure,” Jonathan Weiner said. “Twice as often as you succeed, you fail, and that’s something to be proud of, rather than ashamed.”
Jerry Weiner recently took the role of president for Dunwoody Senior Baseball, a program that City Councilman Denis Shortal, who coached for six years, says “fills an age gap” for players 13 to 18.
“I know Jerry Weiner, and he has the knowledge and desire as the new ‘CEO’ to continue to enhance DSB,” Shortal said.
The 40-year-old program benefits boys (and girls if they choose to join) from Dunwoody and surrounding communities, Shortal said. Many of them come from Murphey Candler Park’s Little League Baseball when they’re too old for that program.
Weiner said he started as a volunteer coach for DSB when he retired at age 50, in 2001, he said.
“That was perfect timing because my younger son came from Murphey Candler, into Dunwoody Senior, and I had a lot of time on my hands, whereas previously I had traveled a lot,” Weiner said.
Many people get confused, he said, because the “senior” in this case means kids older than 12. Instead, those folks expect to see retired or older adults playing ball at Dunwoody Park. About five or six years ago a printer incorrectly printed T-shirts that said “Dunwoody Seniors,” with an extra “s,” Weiner said, laughing.
For more than 20 years, the program was led by John Crawford and Pat Sadler, a man who “win or lose kept the same demeanor,” Weiner said. “Whereas I wouldn’t even get in the house and my wife would say ‘Oh, you lost today.’”
Weiner said Sadler taught him without words how to be a great coach.
“I don’t think [Sadler] said anything to me, but through his example I learned what I was doing had little to do with me,” Weiner said. “It was sometime during the mid-2000s, and it changed my attitude about why I was there and what I was doing.”
When Sadler died a year and a half ago, Weiner said he starting thinking about the program’s future and who would be there to lead it.
“When Pat died, I have to be honest, I cried,” Weiner said. “I knew Pat not all that well but he demonstrated what this [program] really was all about. To some extent this isn’t about sports at all; it’s about helping young people learn about life and learn about themselves.”
One of the people Weiner helped as a coach was his younger son, Jonathan Weiner, who now is 26 years old and still enjoys playing baseball for fun. He’s part of three adult leagues, his dad said.
Jonathan said his dad taught him to accept failure while not letting his success go to his head. Weiner said his son showed tremendous talent, but he chose to continue playing for the sake of the game and chose to attend a college that didn’t even have an intramural baseball team.
His dad didn’t lay awake at night hoping for the role and responsibilities of being president of the program, Jonathan Weiner said. “He saw [the position] needed to be filled and the program might be at stake if no one took it,” Jonathan Weiner said. “He values baseball and this program, so he stepped up and did what he did taking the reins when nobody else really wanted to.”
Jerry Weiner said he took the job because it hit him hard emotionally when he realized just how much the community program meant to him. “I wasn’t looking to pad my resume with this [president role],” Weiner said. “This was true love, and it took Pat’s passing for me to realize that.”
Adding tournaments and developing more community involvement and support through sponsorships has helped the program, Weiner said.
He hopes to inspire people to get and stay involved because he’s had trouble developing a “volunteer cadre,” he said.
Dunwoody’s park director, Brent Walker, said he couldn’t be happier with the program Dunwoody Park has with Senior Baseball, and he has faith in Weiner as a leader.
“I look forward to seeing the great things that the organization will do under Jerry’s leadership,” Walker said.
Weiner said he appreciates the confidence the community places in him, but he is doing this so his grandkids and other future generations can enjoy the same program he and his son enjoyed.
“There was nobody left to run the program. I had some volunteer experience and a deep passion for teaching these kids about life through baseball,” Weiner said.