By TONY EIERDAM
This season the Mineral Wells High School baseball program got a boost when it hired MWJH coach Robert Moreno to head the freshman team and assist the varsity and junior varsity squads.
Moreno, a well-known batting coach in the area, has coached at the junior high school and high school level for 30 years after graduating from Lamar University in Beaumont, where he was a four-year letterman on the Cardinals’ baseball team.
Moreno was born in Richland near Houston and graduated high school from Lamar Consolidated, where he was a four-sport athlete.
While at Lamar university, Moreno played under legendary college coach Jim Gilligan, which helped shape his baseball philosophies and strategies.
Moreno teaches history and government at MWJH. He said he appreciates being part of the MWHS baseball staff.
“I have enjoyed being here helping with the varsity,” Moreno said. “They have been successful the last two years, and I didn’t want to come in here and do anything different. I just wanted to come in and fit in.
“Baseball is a very difficult sport, and I hope I am helping Coach (Bret) Barrick and Coach (Will) Burnes with an extra set of eyes. For a good high school program to be successful, you need at least three coaches. I have worked on staffs with four or five coaches.
“The aspects of the game are so difficult that you need that many eyes. I was happy to come in and help. I have really enjoyed working with the kids, they seem to trust what we are teaching, and I think the kids are improving each day and it will show when we get to the playoffs.”
Moreno said he played all of the sports growing up, but grew most fond of baseball.
“I always played every sport when I was a kid,” he said. “I was one of those kids who would stay out and play baseball until it was dark. I also played football and basketball. When I got to college I had the opportunity to play baseball.
“What helped me later in my career is my association with my college coaches, especially what I learned from Coach Gilligan, the head coach.
“I remember my coaches took me to a Houston Astros game at the Astrodome, and (Dodgers skipper) Tommy Lasorda climbed into the stands before the game and talked to us.
“Coach Gilligan introduced me to many influential people in baseball and taught me a lot. That made me want to be a baseball coach.”
Moreno said coaching gives him the kind of satisfaction that makes it worth the late nights getting home from road games and the extra hours on the practice field.
“What I enjoy most about coaching is watching the kids succeed,” Moreno said. “Watching that light turn on in their heads – that they finally understand what we have been teaching – is rewarding.
“That’s what I like the best about playoff time. Playoffs to me is the third season, with the second season being the second half of district play.
“We are looking forward to the third part of the season, the playoffs.”
More than likely every player in the MWHS baseball program has had Moreno as a batting instructor at one time or another. He coaches batting on the side as a personal instructor, and he is a regular at the different baseball camps in the area, including Barrick’s.
Moreno has been a head baseball coach at Millsap, Joshua and Jacksboro, and has been an assistant coach at Peaster and Lake Worth.
“There are two things about hitting,” he said. “No. 1, hitting is discipline. The second thing is mechanics. Proper mechanics help with consistency. To be a good hitter you have to be consistent in all areas of hitting, and that begins with mechanics.
“You have to constantly check the kids – and we film the varsity hitters in batting practice - to keep them consistent. Hitting in baseball is almost like shooting free throws in basketball – everything has to be consistent and you have to do the same thing over and over again.”
Barrick said Moreno has been a great addition to the baseball coaching staff.
“Coach Moreno gives us another set of eyes, and he gives us another coach so that we can get more work done with the kids in practice,” Barrick said. “With just two coaches (in the past) it made it hard to work in specific areas, and he has allowed us to have a coach in the batting cage working with the hitting.
“He had been a varsity coach for many years, and he is well known around this area.
“He is also well known for his instruction in hitting. We have had him as a hitting instructor at our summer baseball camps.
“He is very unselfish, and he gives all of his time to these kids. Coach Moreno has made our staff a lot better.
“He has been a huge asset to us in practice and games.
“He has been valuable to this program.”
By TONY EIERDAM
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