Mike Jirschele stayed in the game even after he blew out his knee. He was 23 years old then and playing ball in Triple-A when his ACL snapped. He felt so close to the Major Leagues. When he first returned, he still kept his dreams of being a big league ballplayer, but as time passed and his batting average dropped he began to realize that it just wasn’t meant to be. That’s when the goal changed. He went to play ball in Oklahoma City and Tulsa and Omaha and Memphis and Appleton. He was no longer chasing dreams. He just wanted to be a ballplayer.
When he could no longer play, he coached. When he proved proficient at coaching, he managed. For 20 years, he kicked around minor league baseball during summers, managing in Rockford and Wilmington and Omaha, mostly Omaha. During the winters he worked in a furniture store. It was never entirely clear which job was the real job. Two years ago, the Royals made him a major league coach. Everyone in the family cried with joy. A few months later, the Royals made him their third-base coach. More tears of joy.