BRIARCLIFF, N.Y. – Lou Wachtel, a resident of Briarcliff Manor, has made baseball a part of his life for almost as long as he can remember. As a teen he met his wife, Barbara, while they both worked at a summer camp where he was the baseball coach. Now more than a half a century later, Wachtel still coaches in Briarcliff Manor, the same place he has coached since his own sons were players 30 years ago.
“When my kids finished this was something that I loved, so I continued to do it,” Wachtel said. “I have two rules: have fun and hustle.”
Wachtel said the only time he gets upset with a player is when a player is not giving it his all. Successful in the world of business, he said that winning, money and titles are not the real measure of success.
“If you really want to define success, it is being a good spouse, parent, citizen,” he said. “It is being a good human being and being charitable. How do we give back?”
Wachtel pointed to his wife as an example of giving every day as a social worker. “She is something special,” he said with the look of a newlywed, rather than a man married 48 years. “There is somebody that every day goes to work and makes a difference.”
As a coach, Wachtel also helps to better his community. He even dresses up like Santa and takes some of the kids to the local toy store during the holidays. “I get much more joy out of it than any of the kids,” he said, calling himself the first Jewish Santa.
Wachtel recently had a 70th birthday party and many of his former players joined the celebration. They also made a memory book filled with quotes.
“On a tough day, I read some of this,” he said. “I give all the players nicknames.”
A player known as Amtrak wrote, “Coach, you are the best motivator in all of baseball.”
Another named Smoke, said, “Even after we make a mistake, you console us. Every game you bring faith back.”