BERLIN CENTER - Western Reserve baseball coach Ed Anthony has coached four sports at five schools for at least a combined 88 seasons at many different levels.
He coached at Hiram College, he mentored a youth softball team to a state title, he was an assistant when LaBrae went to the state semifinals in 2005 and he also led the Southington girls basketball program for a number of years, to go along with his football coaching resume at Southington and Western Reserve.
Over all that time, Anthony's learned that players tend to perform better when they're not nervous and having fun, and Anthony has figured out how to keep his Blue Devils loose - by regaling humorous tales.
"It's just something that I know him by, just the stories that he tells," junior John Clegg said. "They're always funny and they're always somehow related to baseball, one way or another.
"When he smiles and we're having fun, there's something to that - something to playing loose."
While Anthony could relate stories stemming from his various experiences in sports, the five-year leader of the Western Reserve baseball program entertains the Blue Devils (20-5) with stories from his day job.
Anthony is a sergeant in the Warren Township police department where he has worked for the past 31 years. Thus, his stories deal mostly with his experiences there, many of which have comedic elements his players love.
"We just relate to some of the humorous stuff that occurs down there," Anthony said. "Sometimes, I tell them something that pertains to prom or homecoming or something, whether it's football or baseball. We kind of relate to safety issues and stuff, some of the stuff that could happen and has happened and try to get the point across.
"But mostly, it's the humorous part of it."
While his experience as a police officer helps his players relax, Anthony's experience as a coach is apparent to the Blue Devils, according Tristan Bova. The senior shortstop and No. 2 pitcher pointed to decisions Anthony makes during Western Reserve at-bats that turn out to be the right choices to manufacture runs.
"You can definitely tell with his experience with different situations - suicides, bunts, steals, hit-and-runs," Bova said. "He puts them on at the right times, and most of the time, it works out."
The Blue Devils' admiration from these characteristics is abundantly clear. Senior center fielder Dan Rosati said Anthony has earned his respect with the time he spends with his players, no matter his work schedule.
"He's always a role model because he always makes time for us to come out to practice," Rosati said. "I look up to him dearly."
Although Anthony lives in Warren and must drive 30 or so minutes to reach Berlin Center, he has no qualms about staying at Western Reserve for the foreseeable future.
Anthony said he has a good rapport with his assistants, Jake Zatchok and Joe Serensky, and the community gives the baseball (and other sporting) program a lot of support.
"People ask me many times why I travel up to Reserve because I am from LaBrae and I've had offers to go to other places, but you know what - I love Western Reserve. It's a good community," Anthony said.
It seems he'll be telling tales to the youth of Western Reserve for quite some time.