Tim Corbin wasn’t too old for this moment.
Attending the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa., always had been on his baseball bucket list. On Sunday, the giddy 51-year-old boarded a private jet and fulfilled that dream.
Vanderbilt's baseball coach couldn’t pass up an opportunity to cheer on Nashville’s “hometown” team and was in the stands to watch the Goodlettsville All-Stars knock off Petaluma, Calif., in an exciting second-round game.
“It was better in person than it is on TV. I can say that with certainty,” Corbin said on Monday, back at Vanderbilt and preparing for the Commodores’ first team meeting. “It kind of reveals every aspect of youth baseball that you can possibly see from the emotion to the winning and losing and the fans and the parents. It is really neat. It is the elite deal. It is the thing happening right now. I think it is great for the community.”
Corbin left Nashville at 7 a.m. Sunday and was back by 9 p.m. that same day, turning a 1,500-mile (roundtrip) adventure into a very long day trip. He joined Johnny Garrett, Ray Knotts and Brian Hayes, parents and coaches of Goodlettsville’s 8- and 9-year-old team who extended Corbin an offer to join them and their children on the trip.
“It didn’t take me two seconds to say yes,” Corbin said. “We had a heck of a time, us three guys and about five kids on a private jet. I got to sit in the cockpit. That was exciting in itself. So that was a great day. That’s a day I won’t forget — that’s for sure. That’s one of the best days I’ve had in a long time.”
Once in Williamsport, Corbin said he didn’t say much to Goodlettsville’s 11- and 12-year-old all-stars. He watched the team during batting practice and wished them luck, wanting to avoid being a distraction.
Several of the faces were familiar to Corbin. Sunday’s heroes Jake Rucker and Brock Meyers, along with Blake Osborn and Seth Marlin, have attended baseball camps at Vanderbilt.
On Sunday, he said several Goodlettsville players showed qualities often found at the college level. He was impressed with how pitchers Meyers and Rucker attacked hitters and how Jayson Brown took a 2-2 pitch to the opposite field for a two-out, go-ahead triple in the sixth inning.
“That’s an advanced, college approach to hitting,” Corbin said. “To me they were a very clean team. They played very good defense.”
Until two weeks ago, Corbin had never met Goodlettsville's coach Joey Hale and his father Jerry. In fact, Vanderbilt baseball public address announcer Steve Willard, who sits on the Goodlettsville Little League board, alerted Corbin when the team reached the Southeast final two weeks ago. Corbin then reached out to Joey Hale and to the team, sending them congratulatory emails.
“I really like the way Joey handles his players,” Corbin said. “Not that I’m an authoritarian on anything but just how he handles his players. He doesn’t talk a lot but he’s very positive. You can tell he is a caring soul. You know, he and Jerry they don’t have any kids on the team. They do it because they are interested in the kids. The fact that they are giving back to the community are so reflective of what good coaches are all about.”