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By Chuck Schumacher

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Foreword to my book, written by Garry Shandling

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https://www.facebook.com/chuck.schumacher.96/posts/885144481584733

 

On the passing of my dear friend, Garry Shandling...
I am saddened beyond words, so I will simply use Garry's words to tell you about our long friendship since 1978, when as a young musician, I rented a house next door to a then unknown Garry Shandling in Encino, California. Over the years, Garry became my quirky, eccentric brother and taught me what it is to be a professional. He constantly showed me what a real friend is. I loved him very much and will miss him -- dearly. Here is the foreword to my book which Garry wrote, and told our story.
Forward to How to Play Baseball: A Parent's Role in Their Child's Journey
Most people know me as a comedian, actor, and writer. Or they don’t know me. So, the question is: Why am I writing a foreword to a book about baseball? I understand the confusion, so let me explain. 
First, this is more than a book about baseball. It’s also a philosophical book in which the qualities and the behaviors necessary to achieve excellence in baseball become a metaphor for all areas of life. Secondly, I’ve known the author, Chuck Schumacher, for 35 years. He’s one of the most special people I know—a master, full of integrity, intelligence, wit, focus, discipline, and who is deeply centered. He’s the one to talk to when you need some just plain, grounded Zen-Midwestern conversation. But, more about him later.
    I met Chuck in Los Angeles in 1979 when I was at the very beginning of my comedy career. I remember doing yet another late-night spot at the Comedy Store in Hollywood, which meant trying to make eight people laugh at 1:45 in the morning, and then having to face the long, winding drive to the San Fernando Valley, arriving in the driveway of my one-bedroom rental home at around 2:45 a.m. As I pulled myself out of the car, determined to make it inside, so I could get some sleep—and try again another night for eight different people—I looked over to see my yet unknown neighbor pulling into his driveway in a white Chevy van. I thought “What kind of nut is up at 2:45 a.m. just pulling into his driveway?” I watched carefully as my neighbor unloaded music gear out of the van. Clearly, a thief. ‘Cause it was way too much gear for me to consider ever moving around at 3:00 a.m.
    Unless he was a musician!
    Indeed, my neighbor turned out to be Chuck Schumacher, the author of this book, and back then he had a rock-and-roll band that was on the verge of getting a record deal. Of course, Chuck was the sane one who called all the shots while trying to teach four other temperamental musicians about professionalism and discipline. In fact, many of our late-night chats included thoughts about excellence, and what commitment it took. We talked about self-awareness and focus. And, we talked of our path and our calling. 
   Several years later, after getting to know each other well, Chuck told me, in one of our non-driveway conversations, that he had decided to move to Nashville. Chuck plays a very mean sax, but holding the group of musicians together was too much for him he thought. He was sick of it. I stayed in Los Angeles having just done my first Tonight Show appearance (Chuck was there for that), which changed my life and career, and I had always considered comedy my calling. I knew Chuck had a calling, but I wasn’t sure what it was—just that this was a man following his intuition. A quality in a person that I most respect. We kept in touch. 
   Chuck’s wife and two young children loved Nashville. He opened a small karate studio on his property. He was a black belt, and I noticed in Los Angeles that he was very disciplined about his training. Chuck called to tell me that many of the lessons and techniques he had learned in martial arts applied to hitting a baseball. His son was in Little League by this time, and Chuck was coaching. He could take many a young player from a point where they were completely afraid of the ball or swinging too hard to knocking it over the fence and out of the park. Around the ballfields of Nashville there were whispers that he was some kind of wizard. Was this Chuck’s calling? To become a master and teach? 
   A couple of years ago Chuck called me to say “I know this will probably sound odd, but I’m writing a book about baseball.” It had been 22 years since he had moved from L.A., and about 18 of coaching little league through high school, evolving into batting coach extraordinaire, and highly respected karate sensei. I could tell that he was on to something. I encouraged him, while at the same time he was getting feedback here and there from some former pro players and a pro scout who were muttering to him “This is it” as he’d shyly show them a newly completed chapter or two. 
   As I read the chapters, I was stunned by the simplicity with which he could describe complicated human behavior, and what to do. From dealing with angry parents who are too tough on their own kid, to dealing with the coach, other parents, and even the vendors, to kids who would just sit down in right field while the opposing team was at bat, he seemed to know what to do. As he simply likes to call it: problem-solving. I sat there with a pile of pages in front of me, and realized that this book was Chuck’s calling. It’s the sum total of a life led with integrity, depth, courage and wisdom. The wisdom that comes from letting go of all the false beliefs in the mind, and trusting the instinct—the intuition that he always possessed. Strangely, my life and work had moved in the same direction, and that’s one reason we’ve remained friends. I’d always found in comedy that the most difficult thing to do is the simplest thing to do, to listen to that quiet, simple voice that is most often clobbered by inaccurate thoughts and outside noise. 
   I hope you enjoy this book. I think it’s great for parents, kids, and coaches. As for me, I have to get going, because I have an early spot at the Comedy Store—tonight! The only thing I will miss about those late-night spots are the 2:45 a.m. driveway chats with Chuck.
   And those eight people.
—Garry Shandling
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