The grandmother stood off to the side and watched the baseball coach talk to her 10-year-old grandson, Ryley.
“I was blown away by how Ryley was with this man and I knew this was a man who would make a difference in Ryley’s life,” Marilyn Keyser says about the incident she watched.
Coach Brent Timmons actually gets tears in his eyes when he talks about the kids he’s coached with the City of Myrtle Beach’s Recreation Department, and specifically, the Padres, the team Ryley played on.
When he says he wants the kids to know he’s there for them and always will be, he has real life examples to follow.
Timmons’ parents, Bud and Dee, never missed one of his games when he was growing up in Columbia. And that included baseball, football and basketball.
Compassion and kindness seem to be a family legacy Timmons not only learned, but passed on.
After his father passed away, his son Christopher, now 23, moved in with his grandmother, Timmons’ mom.
In the Army until he was discharged due to an injury, Christopher is a correctional officer at Kirkland Correctional Institution in Columbia.
He takes his grandmother back and forth to her medical appointments, shops, helps in the house and does all the things a loving grandson can do.
Timmons learned about doing for people, and taught his son the same, because he saw it in his own parents.
“When kids on a ball team didn’t have a ride, my Dad would go get them for practice or a game,” Timmons says. “Some of those kids didn’t have anything and Dad took them clothes.
“That doesn’t hit you until years later when you realize you’re doing the same stuff your parents did.
But isn’t that kind of an unspoken part of a coach’s job?
“He was different,” Marcia Thornton, who also has a grandson, Clinton Savoy, coached by Timmons, says.
Clinton, his grandmother can’t help but mention, got his first home run, “a three-run homer” in the Padres’ championship game against the Mets.
“He never said a bad word about a child, he worked with them in each position and he was thrilled to have them on his team. He was always behind them 100%.
“It wasn’t like a job for him, we could tell. He was really there for the kids,” Thornton says.
Timmons, a field maintenance worker for the City of Myrtle Beach, coaches 9- and 10-year-olds, coached his own son until Christopher was 14, and as he moved up, Timmons moved with him until he was content to just watch him play.
Timmons came back coaching this year after an eight-year break. He likes the 9- and 10-year-olds because he can teach them things to take to the next level.
“It’s not just about hitting the ball, it’s about the game and how and why you play it,” he says.
When a child hears a half dozen voices telling him to “Run…run…run” and just as many from other bleachers telling him “Don’t run…don’t run,” he has to know what to do.”
Baseball is a hard game, the coach says, but he wants his kids to know more than the rules. He wants them to learn to work as a team.
One of the important things Timmons tells his proteges is that it’s not only okay to fail, it’s absolutely necessary.
He teaches his kids that in professional baseball, if a player gets three hits out of 10, he earns $10 million a year.
“In real life, you don’t get that. In life, you’re going to fail as much as you’re going to succeed. You have to learn how to fail before you can win.
“What job can you keep if you fail 70% of the time?
“But there’s a balance because if you lose every game, nobody has any fun,” he says.
Timmons teaches his teams that there are 12 other kids to depend on and they need to have each other’s backs.
“They need to learn to pull for someone, not against someone.
“I want them to grow together. That’s an important life lesson that often gets overlooked.”
What he means by that is that kids just don’t seem to play with each other any more like they used to do.
“The video games and everything else and a lot of times, the kids go home and do nothing else. If I have a couple hours with them in a week, I want them to know there’s more to do than sit home playing games.
“They need to be around each other. They learn from each other. They need to grow up with each other.”
The Padres won seven, lost two and tied one game in the recent 10-game season. And, they won the championship game 10-9.
“If you just teach them to throw a baseball and they go home, why would they come back?” Timmons says.
The coach gets emotional when he talks about the kids and how he loves them collectively and individually.
“It might sound strange, but I love being around them and working with them. Hopefully they’ll remember that as much as they remember how to hit a baseball or how to throw it.”
When a kid gets to run the bases for the first time in his life…that kid with a smile on his face sliding home who never did that before…that brings tears to my eyes,” Timmons says.
“We adore him, he’s wonderful,” Tina Mahon, who is Ryley’s mother, says.
“It’s his patience level and his positivity with the kids. Even if a kid does something wrong, he flips it around and makes it a positive experience.
“He goes the extra mile, and he’s more genuine than coaches we’ve had in the past.”
Timmons recently ran into a 23-year-old he coached years ago as a pre-teen.
“He didn’t shake my hand, he hugged me,” Timmons says. “When I feel that love, I know I did something right.”