After college baseball careers at Miami Dade South and St. Leo University, Bob Delgado followed his father’s footsteps and joined the Air Force Reserve. So it is no coincidence that three of his four sons are playing college baseball and the fourth is a pilot in the Air Force.
Bob always wanted to be a baseball coach. “I knew when I was in the eighth grade that I wanted to be a baseball coach,” he says. “It was the job I always wanted.” So when he returned to Miami to work on a Master’s Degree in physical education at Florida International University and become a teacher, he also became a graduate assistant for the school’s baseball team. He then became an assistant coach at South Dade High for three years before getting his big break in 1977 and become head baseball coach at Palmetto High, a job he held for 20 years.
At Palmetto, Delgado was known as a “small ball” coach who would drive home the fundamentals of the game to his players.
“My players used to say that I ‘fundamentaled them to death’ and I took that as a huge compliment,” he says.
Delgado retired as Palmetto’s head baseball coach in 1997 to spend more time with his boys, who were just starting to play youth baseball.
“I didn’t want to be one of those dads who was too busy to spend time with his kids,” he says. “You can have all the money in the world, but what made me happy was spending time with my boys, so it was a pretty easy decision for me.”
His decision paid off. His four sons — Mackin, Casey, Dustin and Riley — all played high school baseball at Palmetto and three of them went on to play college ball, while Mackin joined the Air Force.
Mackin, 25, is now an instructor pilot at the Vance Air Force Base in Enid, OK. He attended the Air Force Academy and then began pilot training. He did so well they selected him to become an instructor pilot right out of training.
Casey, 23, just graduated from Austin Peay University where he had an outstanding career. After spending two years at Columbia State, he played his last two years at Austin Peay. As a starting pitcher, he went 9-3 in his senior year and set the school record for single-season strikeouts with 105. He won the state title at Columbia State in his second year there and then won the Ohio Valley Conference title both years at Austin Peay. This summer, he will play for the Frontier Grays in Ohio’s Frontier Independent League.
Dustin, 20, just finished playing baseball for two years at Columbia State College and will go on to Middle Tennessee State University to play shortstop. At Columbia State, he won both the state and conference titles and was just a game away from playing in the Junior College World Series. And finally, Riley, 18, just concluded his high school career as the shortstop for Palmetto High School and will follow in the footsteps of his older brothers to Columbia State next year.
“I feel like I have been blessed that my kids all turned out to be good people,” said Delgado. “They were good students, made good grades, respected their teachers and never got in trouble. Obviously, my wife Connie gets a lot of credit for that. Seeing them be successful as both people and athletes is amazing. When I was at Miami- Dade, we won the state title; now both Casey and Dustin have won state titles at Columbia State. Seeing my kids accomplish some things that I was very fortunate to do is fulfilling to me, and very special!”
Delgado continues to teach physical education at Palmetto High, while still spending his free time coaching youth baseball, driving home the same knowledge and fundamentals to young men that made his sons successful players and people.
Justin Hesser has an MBA from St. Thomas University, with a specialization in sports administration. He is a regular contributor to the Pinecrest Tribune and may be contacted via email at email@example.com or by calling 786-543-2988.