As It Happens

That time Meat Loaf coached a high school girls' softball team

He was born Marvin Lee Aday. To his fans, he was Meat Loaf. But for Jen Carlson, he’ll always be Coach Meat.

The Bat Out of Hell singer died on Thursday at the age of 74

Meat Loaf poses for a picture with the high school junior softball team he coached in 1991. Jen Carlson, second from the left, remembers 'Coach Meat' fondly. (Submitted by Jen Carlson)

Story Transcript

He was born Marvin Lee Aday. To his fans, he was Meat Loaf. But for Jen Carlson, he'll always be Coach Meat.

The award-winning rockstar known for his hit album Bat Out of Hell, and his film roles in cult favourites like Rocky Horror Picture Show and Fight Club, died on Thursday. He was 74.

In the early '90s, as he was working on Bat Out of Hell II, the singer had a second job — coaching a girls' softball team in Redding, Conn.

Carlson, an editor for Gothamist and WNYC, was a player on that team. Here is part of her conversation with As It Happens host Carol Off. 

How did he end up coaching your softball team?

His daughter [Pearl] went to my school. And you know, there were budget cuts and we didn't have a coach for our JV team that year. And his daughter had relayed that to him, and he offered to coach us.

Did you know who he was? Was it just Pearl's dad, or did you know what you were dealing with there?

We were all familiar with his music and Rocky Horror Picture Show. And it's a small town ... we knew the family and Pearl. So, you know, it was exciting for us … and to find out that we had a coach all of a sudden was great.

What was he like as a coach?

He was really fun. You know, he would run the bases with us. He would do all the practice with us. He would really get in there and do whatever we were doing. 

And he was really kind and tried to guide us. We weren't maybe the best team, but he tried to make us better. And yeah, he really brought some joy to the field.

Was he there for every practice? Was he there for every game?

He was there for almost every one. Like, he even had rescheduled one of his concerts in the Midwest to fly home to be at one of our practices.

I think at one point he had to leave to go to L.A. and work on some movies, and he was recording Bat Out of Hell II at the time. So when he did that, he actually wrote down his address on, like, all these different pieces of paper to give to us so that we could write him letters while he was away, because there wasn't email or cellphones then.

Meat Loaf, pictured in 2006, in front of an illustration of a ferocious bat. (Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images)

I understand he taught your team some chants. Do you want to tell us what they were?

His chant was, "What do we want to do?"

And then we'd have to yell, "Kill!"

"What do we need to do?"

"Kill!"

"What are we going to do?"

"Kill!"

"What do big dogs do?"

And then they would scream, "Kill!"

Kind of an intense chant. We wanted him to sing his songs, and he would always come at us with just doing this chant.

But it's so good for a girls' team to get that kind of energy, right? To get to the killer instinct. Is that what he was trying to instill in you?

He was definitely riling us up to get out there on the field and win.

I'm sure this looked like a story for some. Were you hounded by journalists? Did people show up at your at your practices and games?

Yeah, there was a Sports Illustrated article about this at the time. And the reporter had come to our practices. And Coach Meat made him wait on the side of the field until we were done with practice because he didn't want it interrupted. He didn't want anything from his own life interrupting what we were doing.

And then if we had games, people from like the competing towns would come over around our bench and try to get autographs, which I think he was happy to do. But he would make those people also wait until everything was over.

Meat Loaf, screams into the microphone during a live concert. (Keystone/Getty Images)

This is the early '90s you were talking about. He was coming out of a really bad patch, wasn't he? I mean, he lost his voice at one point and was in the midst of a comeback then. So what are your memories of him at that time? How was he doing?

I was probably 14 or 15. I wasn't really aware of ... anything that was going on personally with him. He wasn't bringing that to the field and talking to us about that.

But he did sing some songs from Bat Out of Hell II, which wasn't released for two years later. 

You heard some of those songs before anybody else did?

We were on a bus ride back from one of our games. We had won this game. I think it might have been one of the only ones that we won. 

We had been begging him to like, sing some songs, some old songs. And then he belted out I Would Do Anything For Love, which we hadn't heard. And then he did some old songs after that.

He drove you home sometimes, didn't he?

My parents worked and I didn't have a licence yet, so he would drive me home. He was a really fast driver. I think he hit my mom's car once in the driveway. And if he didn't drive me home, you know, he would make sure his daughter Pearl could drive me home. So that was really nice.

And so as you watched his career, did you ever say to people who were listening to Meat Loaf  … "Oh yeah, that's Coach Meat! He coached my softball team." Did you ever tell people that?

Yeah, that's a fun thing to tell people when it comes up. It's a nice party story.

Do they believe you?

Yeah. I mean, I have the photos.


Written by Sheena Goodyear. Interview produced by Katie Geleff. Q&A has been edited for length and clarity. 

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