In Memoriam: Longtime Optimist leader and coach Jack McCall

Thursday, April 4, 2019 0 Comments

In Memoriam: Longtime Optimist leader and coach Jack McCall
Jack McCall has coached so many young baseball players, including his sons and four grandsons, during his 40 plus years with the Optimist Club of Miami Lakes that he lost count.
But the humorous anecdotes from his former players help jog his memory, as the coach of their kids and grandchildren who told him he was a big inspiration in their lives.
“They would come up to me and say, ‘Mr. McCall, do you remember me? You coached me in T-ball and Mustang leagues with the Athletics. You were a great coach and mentor’.”
McCall passed away last month at the age of 83.
McCall, born in Pennsylvania, joined the Optimist Club in 1973 and created a legacy, marked by three generations of coaching and participation, and he served as the organization’s president and South Florida District Optimist International’s lieutenant governor and two-term governor.
In 2012, he was enshrined in the South Florida District Optimist International Hall of Fame, signifying four decades of devotion to helping youths both on and off the field.
In addition, McCall was inducted into the inaugural class for the Miami Lakes Sports Hall of Fame in 2017 joining former Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula, the NFL’s winningest coach, former Dolphins tight end Jim Mandich and former MLB player Alex Ochoa.
To commemorate its 50th anniversary this year the Optimist Club will enshrine McCall into the organization’s inaugural Hall of Fame Class of 2019 in July, honoring a man who devoted his life to coaching kids and helped improved their academic skills in the classroom for 45 years.
Joining the exclusive club epitomized his Optimist career and he was thrilled when given the opportunity to coach his youngest grandson as the newest member of the Green Machine.
McCall adopted the moniker years ago as the Little League version of the 1970s Cincinnati Reds’ Big Red Machine, and because of his Irish heritage.
“Since 1973, I always loved to volunteer and coach kids because it’s a passion of mine,” McCall said “I will be volunteering and coaching until the end.”
McCall remembered his team played with the luck of the Irish on their side. During a tournament game in Palm Springs North, his team executed the impossible – a triple play by a five-year-old and six-year-old.
To his recollection, it was the second time in T-Ball play the rare act of making three outs during one continuous play occurred.
“The kids executed it flawlessly,” he said. “The kids didn’t realize what they had accomplished.”
Many residents said that McCall’s passion for volunteering and coaching that influenced thousands of kids made him an icon.
He served as Grand Marshal of the Miami Lakes Veterans Day Parade.
Longtime Optimist Club member Jim Hamilton, a longtime friend of McCall, said he was the heart and soul of the organization who loved kids.
“He placed his emphasis on working with kids,” Hamilton said. “He had two goals – improving their skills and having fun. The Optimist Club will miss Jack and everything he brought to the club and our community.”
Hamilton thanked McCall’s wife, Pat, for allowing him to devote his time to the Optimist Club.
Other Miami Lakes residents also remembered McCall and his four-decade commitment to the Optimist Club.
Miami Lakes Councilmember Josh Dieguez said it was an honor to meet McCall in 2010. “He was a real gentleman and cared deeply about our town as is evidenced by his decades of involvement with various community organizations in Miami Lakes,” he said. “He always kept a great sense of humor about him and will be missed by many. On behalf of our community, thank you for all you did for us, Jack.”
Former Miami Lakes Councilmember Nelson Hernandez said McCall was a good man. “A true loss for the town,” he said.
Attorney Leslie Seiner Langbein said Miami Lakes will never be the same now the McCall has perished. “He was selfless,” she said.
Azalia Guillen Garcia said her son played for McCall’s the Green Machine team. “He was the best coach my son ever had,” she said. “He’ll be missed.”
Hamilton said the Optimist Club is establishing the Jack McCall Scholarship Fund to help kids in the program who are in need of financial assistance to play sports.
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