Steve Ruane still remembers how his coaching career began as a 16-year-old in 1974.
“I showed up at the field for a Connie Mack game,” recalled Ruane. “A guy showed up with a clipboard and a bag with bats and balls. He confirmed who I was and told me that this was my team.
“I didn’t have any coaching experience whatsoever. I really didn’t know anything about it. But a coach from Deep Run showed and told me some things and helped me get through the season. It was a true live and learn.
“Once I became comfortable, I really enjoyed it. I got the bug and didn’t stop.”
His initial experience ignited a 45-year odyssey of coaching in the Doylestown system that ended with his recent retirement from the legion team after a 10-year run there.
Ruane coached a number of different Connie Mack teams in the Doylestown area, and he also benefited from some time playing in a men’s modified fast-pitch softball league.
“It was a very competitive and high-level league,” he added. “It really helped me learn some more things about the game and how to adjust. Playing in the league was a lot of fun and it also was very beneficial.”
Ruane, who played baseball through ninth grade, also watched twin sons Matt and Mike along with younger brother Anthony pass through the program, although he didn’t coach them.
His son, Matt, later became a coach on Ruane’s most memorable team, the 2012 squad that was two games away from going to the American Legion World Series. Along with his son, Ruane acknowledged the support from assistant coaches Jim Burge, Scott Gilbert, Gil Howard, and Brad Tracy.
“Those guys were the dream team of coaching,” said Ruane. “It was one of those teams where we could only mess it up. It was a matter of just letting the dogs run.
“That was a super-talented group that was 27-1 at one point. It was a heckava year.”
Ruane also recalled six trips with his teams to Keene, N.H., for a weekend tournament in June that was coordinated with the local SwampBats, a collegiate team in the Cape Cod League.
“It was good to get away for four days with kids and coaches together,” said Ruane. “This was a great team bonding tool for us. It was fun, and we even won the tournament a few times.
Ruane, who is a special education teacher at Council Rock High School North, underwent heart surgery in April of 2018 and returned to coaching a month later. However, the surgery didn’t sway his decision to retire. Some recent additions to his family did.
“After 45 years, it was time to do something different,” said Ruane, who still is the general manager of the Legion Post in Doylestown. “The day-to-day stuff with baseball is very time consuming.
“I have two granddaughters that I want to spend some time with. That will be worth it.”
Yet, Ruane will miss the time with his players, teaching them some valuable life lessons.
“I love working with the kids and being in the dugout with them,” he said. “They don’t remember their batting averages, but they never forget the discussion with their teammates. You always think about the goofy things they discuss. No one can ever reproduce that. It was great hanging out with them, and I’ll miss that.
“Baseball can teach them plenty. It is not always unicorns and rainbows. It came down to the relationship you build, and it gave the kids another look at life and why it isn’t bad to fail sometimes.
“It was a great 45-year career.”