If Tony Blaisure asks a player to do something, it’s because he knows they can.

So, when a ball, and then a bat (more on that later), got stuck atop the backstop in Thursday’s Lackawanna League Division IV game against Forest City, the 56-year-old did just what he’d expect of his players: Go get it done.

But this was above and beyond. Blaisure scaled the fence and dislodged the bat, then plucked the ball and nimbly retreated back down the backstop and the game continued.

“I don’t know,” winning pitcher and senior Whitney Tyler said. “When he climbed up there, I think he proved that he’s all world.”It kind of reminded me of Anthony Perkins climbing the backstop in Fear Strikes Out, the movie that chronicles the life of former Boston Red sox Jimmy Piersall and his battle with mental illness.

But there was nothing crazy about this. It was calculated. Maybe a little more calculated than Blaisure throwing a bat against the top of the backstop between innings to try to dislodge that ball, and ultimately wedging the bat there, too.

“I had to get up there and get down so we could get the game going,” Blaisure said. “I couldn’t take much time, and I knew I couldn’t slip and fall, either.”

What he did was about responsibility, a lesson Blaisure has been teaching his players for more than three decades. You did it. Now fix it.

“I’ve learned that even if you make an error to pick your head up because there is more to the game and he needs you in the game,” said third baseman Amanda Mowry, who atoned for an error with a two-run homer.

Just one fo the many lessons learned by his players over the past 32 seasons.

“He expected me to the best player I could be every single day, whether that be through two-a-day practices or a challenge to put in the extra work at home when no one was watching,” said Brooke Darling, arguably the school’s best softball player. “At times, he was hard on me, but he was also the first one cheering me on when I got it right.

“Most importantly, I always knew that he cared for me as a person, not just a player. He was always there if I needed someone to talk to and he has continued to support me in any way he can long after I have graduated. I feel very blessed to have known him both on and off the field.”

Blaisure wasn’t about to start naming the best players he’s ever had. It would have taken far too long and he didn’t want to leave anyone out, even though Darling’s 0.40 earned run average and 1,022 strikeouts seem to single her out.

“I’ve had a lot of good players,” Blaisure said. “I’m just thankful to be in this position, and that the school board and administration here at Elk Lake have given me the opportunity to coach all of these kids. And hopefully I can do it for a few more years.”

A look at the 32-year coaching record of Elk Lake’s Tony Blaisure, who notched his 500th win in an 8-0 win over Forest City on Thursday.
Year  W L
1986 20 1
1987 16 3
1988 17 4
1989 15 5
1990 17 5
1991 16 5
1992 11 9
1993 14 5
1994 21 2
1995 21 4
1996 20 2
1997 19 2
1998 20 2
1999 16 4
2000 16 3
2001 15 2
2002 8 8
2003 16 4
2004 13 4
2005 16 1
2006 16 4
2007 8 8
2008 13 8
2009 22 3
2010 19 1
2011 20 1
2012 14 7
2013 15 7
2014 9 10
2015 14 5
2016 17 5
2017 6 1
Totals 500 135