Rick Wolff, Sports Radio Host and Much More, Is Dead at 71

Rick Wolff’s résumé is about so long as a Major League roster, his disparate professions linked by an adoration of sports activities and a fascination with sports activities psychology.

He was an expert baseball participant, a university baseball coach, an creator of books about sports activities psychology and an editor and writer of books by athletes like Tiger Woods (in addition to enterprise figures).

In the early Nineteen Nineties, he turned the psychological coach for the Cleveland baseball crew now referred to as the Guardians, serving to them rise from the American League basement to perennial pennant contenders. And for 25 years he was the host of “The Sports Edge,” a present on the New York sports activities station WFAN devoted to serving to households navigate the more and more aggressive world of youth sports activities.

His final episode, which handled whether or not youngsters had been turning into much less concerned about youth sports activities, aired two weeks earlier than he died on April 10 at his residence in Armonk, NY, in Westchester County. He was 71. His son, John, mentioned the trigger was mind most cancers.

Mr. Wolff started his quarter-century on WFAN after ending his stint as Cleveland’s roving psychological coach. Becoming a broadcaster was hereditary: His father, Bob Wolff, was a radio and tv sportscaster for practically eight many years, longer than anybody else, in response to Guinness World Records.

Over a whole lot of Sunday-morning episodes, Rick Wolff tackled weighty youth-sports subjects like hazing, the influence of social media and the danger of concussions, in addition to extra lighthearted ones like Big League Chew bubble gum.

The dangerous conduct of overcompetitive dad and mom and the psychological well being of younger athletes had been motifs. In an episode final 12 months that served as a primer on sports activities psychology, Mr. Wolff mentioned that sending youngsters to compete with out mentally making ready them was “like sending your child to take a significant check in class, however they actually have not studied or ready for that examination.”

His psychological insights had been solid within the crucible of Major League Baseball.

He began with Cleveland in 1990, when the crew was mired in one of many longest playoff droughts in Major League historical past — Cleveland had not made it to the postseason since 1954.

Cleveland was so infamous for shedding {that a} fancifully woeful model of the crew was at the guts of the 1989 film comedy “Major League.”

Mr. Wolff labored with many younger gamers within the Cleveland system, which within the early Nineteen Nineties included future stars like Albert Belle, Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome.

He usually traveled with Cleveland and its minor league groups and had a devoted residence telephone line on which gamers may name him at any time. Whether they had been coping with a batting hunch, pregame jitters or anger points, he was there to listen to them out.

His counseling strategy concerned visualization strategies, muscle reminiscence and pushing gamers to face their failures. He had some unorthodox views; for example, he maintained that setting overly formidable objectives could possibly be paralyzing as an alternative of motivating and that pregame nervousness may usually be embraced as a standard a part of sports activities.

Even although sports activities psychology was uncommon in baseball, Mr. Wolff mentioned on his present final 12 months, Cleveland’s gamers “took the psychological aspect of the sport critically” and inside just a few years had been a “powerhouse within the American League.”

The concept caught on, he added, and “nowadays it is the uncommon, uncommon sports activities crew or skilled or school group that does not have at least one sports activities psychologist on their employees.”

As an editor at numerous publishing homes, Mr. Wolff acquired a slew of New York Times finest sellers, together with Robert Kiyosaki’s “Rich Dad Poor Dad” (1997) and General Electric chief government Jack Welch’s “Jack: Straight From the Gut” (2001). He additionally acquired quite a lot of sports activities books, together with Roger Angell’s “A Pitcher’s Story: Innings With David Cone” and Tiger Woods’s “How I Play Golf.”

As an creator, he wrote, amongst different books, “Secrets of Sports Psychology Revealed: Proven Techniques to Elevate Your Performance” (2018) and “Harvard Boys: A Father and Son’s Adventure Playing Minor League Baseball” (2007), which he wrote together with his son.

Richard Hugh Wolff was born in Washington on July 14, 1951. His mom, Jane (Hoy) Wolff, was a Navy nurse who turned a homemaker. His father was the broadcasting voice of the Washington Senators at the time.

In 1961, the Senators moved to Minnesota, the place they turned the Twins, and the (*71*) ultimately moved to Edgemont, NY, in Westchester County, the place Mr. Wolff grew up. He performed baseball and soccer at Edgemont High School, graduating in 1969, and attended Harvard.

As an infielder taking part in for Harvard, he started searching for a psychological edge however discovered little details about sports activities psychology. In time he tailored the visualization strategies superior by the surgeon Maxwell Maltz in his e book “Psycho-Cybernetics.”

The Detroit Tigers picked Mr. Wolff late within the 1972 newbie draft, and he performed of their minor league system in 1973 and 1974 whereas finishing his Harvard bachelor’s diploma in psychology.

After taking part in within the minors, Mr. Wolff turned editor in chief at the Alexander Hamilton Institute, a now defunct group that printed instructional supplies on enterprise and administration. He continued to carry that job after he turned head baseball coach for Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, NY, in 1978. He coached there till 1985, main the crew to a 114-81-3 document.

In 1982, he married Patricia Varvaro, who survives him. In addition to her and his son, he’s survived by two daughters, Alyssa Wolff and Samantha O’Connor; a brother, Dr. Robert Wolff; a sister, Margy Clark; and three grandchildren.

Mr. Wolff earned a grasp’s diploma in psychology from Long Island University in 1985. His e book “The Psychology of Winning Baseball: A Coach’s Handbook” (1986) caught the attention of Harvey Dorfman, a psychological coach for the Oakland A’s and one of many first within the main leagues. He referred to as Mr. Wolff and instructed him that different groups had been searching for psychologists. After talking to a number of groups, Mr. Wolff selected Cleveland.

He bonded with Cleveland gamers by carrying a crew uniform and training with them.

At the time, his taking part in days had been more moderen than the younger gamers he endorsed might need thought — simply the 12 months earlier than. He had performed three video games (and had 4 hits in seven at-bats) with the South Bend (Ind.) White Sox of the Midwest League in 1989, when he was 38, an expertise he wrote about for Sports Illustrated.

His South Bend teammates had handled him gingerly, till he fielded a grounder and hit a dribbler to quick of their first recreation collectively. He wrote that after the sport one pitcher requested him, “Tell us, Rick, you have to have identified him, what sort of participant was Babe Ruth?”

With that little bit of ribbing, Mr. Wolff knew he had made it. “I had grow to be the goal of some old style needling — the final word acceptance in baseball.”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *