December 16, 2011

Saint Leo Hall of Famer and High School Coaching Legend Teaches Life Skills through Sports

TAMPA, Fla. – Saint Leo College alum and former Tampa Catholic baseball coach Pete Mulry, who led four state championship teams and established a dynasty that made TC one of the state's most powerful programs, has written a book titled "Conversations In the Seventh Inning Of My Life.'' In this book he interviewed 30 of his former Crusader players about the life skills they learned while competing for the iconic high-school baseball program.

The book is $15, $20 for a copy autographed by the author, and $50 for a book signed by Mulry and the former athletes interviewed. TC also will hold a book signing on Jan. 28, in which limited editions of the book, signed by all of the former players, will be available for $50. Mulry said all proceeds from his book will be donated to TC's campaign for installing lights at its baseball and softball fields.  Tampa Catholic High School and Saint Leo University are both institutions under the Diocese of St. Petersburg.

"I'm in the time of my life where it's not about money or stuff,'' said Mulry, who manages a realty group in Perdido Key on Florida's Panhandle. "I've been blessed. To be honest, if Tampa Catholic didn't give me a break I probably didn't deserve, I might've been back pumping gas in New Jersey. "But they hired me as the baseball coach when I was 21 years old. I had some incredible experiences and got to coach a great group of kids. Well, those kids have grown up now and they are doing great things in the world. My idea was to show what they were doing and how their dedication to baseball and excellence got them started on the right foot.''

Mulry, a member of the first four-year graduating class at Saint Leo, was hired by TC for the 1967-68 school year, when the Crusaders first began playing their baseball games on campus. That 1968 team captured a state title under Mulry, who also guided state-title teams in 1971, 1973 and 1976. The 1973 team was named mythical national champions.

It was a career that eventually saw Mulry earn Hall of Fame honors at both Saint Leo and as a member of the inaugural class at Tampa Catholic.

Mulry said the title of his book means he has reached "the seventh-inning stretch of my life, a time to evaluate and reflect.'' Originally, he hoped to retire from his business and offer his service to TC for a year. But when Hurricane Ivan hit the Panhandle, he couldn't make that move.

A pair of his former players gave him the idea for a book. The TC players now serve as attorneys and CEOs, police officers and laborers, entrepreneurs and consultants, baseball coaches and team executives. They are different people. At the same time, they are the same people.

When Mulry had completed his work, he studied the 30 interviews. He created "common threads'' or the qualities that all of them shared. Responsibility. Teamwork. Hard work. Situational awareness. Commitment. Friendship. Discipline. Accountability. Confidence. Honesty. "I am thrilled with what these guys have done with their lives,'' Mulry said. "I am humbled that they believe the things we taught them helped to set them up for success.

"This is a story about baseball players, but I think their principles can be applied to teaching, sales, parenthood or just generally living life to the fullest. They made a lot of history at Tampa Catholic and this will be part of that history.''

And that history will help future generations of TC players, many of whom will find their way to Southard Stadium at Saint Leo. Mulry and his players learned their life's lessons on the baseball diamond. Now they are giving back.

More information on Pete Mulry, his legendary baseball career and how to purchase "Conversations in the Seventh Inning of My Life" can be found here.

The Tampa Tribune's Joey Johnston contributed to this story