One of my son's baseball coaches passed away on Thursday. It has been years since Steve played ball and at least as many years since Mike Ferreira stopped coaching for the Whaling City Youth Baseball League headquartered at Brooklawn Park. But Coach Mike's passing touched me deeply.

I didn't know Mike Ferreira well, but we talked whenever we ran into each other at the ball field or Market Basket or some other place. He seemed fascinated by my line of work and was never shy about expressing his opinion about one thing or another that I said on the program. He was knowledgeable about a lot of things, which usually made for an enjoyable conversation.

Ferreira, like me, loved American history. He knew a lot about World War II and got a kick out of seeing the various monuments and memorials. The coach was excited when I told him about the Iwo Jima Memorial on Fall River's waterfront several years back. It was new, and he hadn't heard about it yet.

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What I remember most about Coach Mike is the relationship he had with the kids. Not only the kids that played for him but all of the kids at the ballpark. Mike could be strict. His own sons had to toe the line just like all of the other kids.

Mike was tough, but he wanted the kids to respect themselves as well as the game. He would stop practice to wait for a player to tuck in his jersey or if someone wasn't wearing a belt or a cap. He would even yell to players standing outside the fence to tuck in their jerseys. Respect yourself. Respect the game.

Coach Mike saw to it that every kid got to play. He made sure that kids without parental involvement got to and from the field because he understood the importance of their being there for a few hours each week. Mike taught his players to believe in themselves and to do the best they could do both on and off the field.

In an Instagram post, Adam Ferreira said his dad was "the man who taught me everything. The man who instilled the values of honesty, respect, and to have compassion for every other human being." Adam said Mike Ferreira was a "great man, role model, and father."

Coach Mike made a difference in the lives of hundreds of young people over the years. Judging by the words of a grateful son, it was a positive difference.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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