Every year thousands of players participate in the great game under the Babe Ruth League banner. Many of them dream about someday becoming professional athletes.
It used to be that only young male athletes could dream of reaching such lofty heights through athletic participation. But now because of women’s professional basketball, softball and soccer leagues, young female athletes have been able to share those dreams.
While it’s great to dream and strive for success in all of your endeavors, the reality is that a very, very small percentage of athletes ever get the opportunity to play a sport professionally. In fact, only a handful of the athletes who participate in youth baseball or softball will play at the collegiate level. More, but probably not the majority, will play in high school.
At some point all of us – even the most successful professional athletes – have to venture out into the business world or what some people like to call the “real world.” While it is our primary goal to help the young baseball and softball players improve in those sports, we are very aware that there is more to life than athletics. There are many valuable life lessons that can be communicated through sports participation, and it is our hope that the young athletes will take away something that will help them later on in life. One of those key lessons that we hope to impart is the value of sportsmanship. Read more
Every game we handed out a trophy for the Most Valuable Player. This idea came to me from watching my son’s Head Baseball Coach, Doug Bassett (Facebook). My son left RPBL in 2014 and he and I got involved with the WM Warriors. I was the Assistant Coach on the 8U-B travel team. In 2015, Blake had the most success season to-date winning the MVP in the “35th Annual HCYP Invitational Baseball Tournament in Ellicott City, MD”. This medal was awarded by the opposing Manager. His 8U-A team also went undefeated in the 2015 Essex Express Baseball Father’s Day Summer Classic
August, 2001 my girlfriend Rene and I drove to the Eastern shore with our first born child AKA dog Brendan. The breeder named him Snow because he was so white. So, when we set out to train him and enrolled him in multiple obedience classes. This is where I learned one of the most valuable lessons in life. She said,
“Have you ever wondered how trainers are able to get dolphins to jump out of the water on command and do a flip at SeaWorld? It’s through “positive reinforcement” using fish.”
So, instead of fish we used Cheese Balls and it was AMAZINGLY effective. I managed to train Brendan to Sit, Stay and Come on command beautifully. He was literally like a son to us. We loved him so much he became our “ring bearer” at our wedding @ the Inn at Perry Cabin.
This style of teaching proved to be very important in my teaching career, as well as coaching. I began awarding a Most Valuable Player (MVP) trophy at every game. There is NO “I” in TEAM. For example, Kansas City Royals’ Salvador Perez was named 2015 World Series MVP. Read more He wears jersey #13. Guess who else wears that unlucky number on the Orioles? Gold Glove 3rd baseman – Manny Machado
At Closing Ceremonies this year, we will be presenting the first ever RPBL Coaches Award to one player on each National League Team (9-10 age group) who best represents the values of RPBL. These values include:
The winner on the Blaze goes to Henry Fischel. He always had a smile on his face, hustled, followed direction well, cheered for his teammates and most of all was a great asset to the overall success of our team this year. In fact, he managed to have some key offensive hits when we needed it most and his defensive pitching performance was outstanding.
However, it was not a land slide. We had many players who were very easy to teach and seemed to be enjoying the game. But there were two special players who deserve to be recognized. Amelia Overton & Wyatt Winstead – Honorable Mentions. I believe their best example of “Sportsmanship” was shown when they consistently went out of their way to acknowledge me not only after every game, but after every practice as well. “Thank you Coach” are the 3 magic words any Skipper loves to hear!
One last player who made remarkable improvement was Sawyer Ross. He wins the “Most Improved” award. Here’s a guy who had never played baseball before. Yet, I knew he was a great athlete because he played soccer with my son. He became my “pet project”. I worked with him and tried to teach him how to bat. Sure enough, when the game was on the line, he came through. Read Victory & Defeat
Don’t be a Sore Loser
Sportsmanship is an aspiration or ethos that a sport or activity will be enjoyed for its own sake, with proper consideration for fairness, ethics, respect, and a sense of fellowship with one’s competitors. A “sore loser” refers to one who does not take defeat well, whereas a “good sport” means being a “good winner” as well as being a “good loser”. (Someone who shows courtesy towards another in a sports game).
RPBL requires that we play every player in the outfield. So, we will continue to make adjustments this season experimenting with players at pitcher, 1B and SS. I will continue to keep the batting lineup in descending order alphabetically. This gives everyone equal plate appearances.
In general, sportsmanship refers to virtues such as fairness, self-control, courage, and persistence, and has been associated with interpersonal concepts of treating others and being treated fairly, maintaining self-control if dealing with others, and respect for both authority and opponents. The four elements of sportsmanship are often shown being good form, the will to win, equity and fairness.
The important thing to remember is that we win and lose as a TEAM. “The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.” –Babe Ruth
Since every sport is rule driven, the most common offence of bad sportsmanship is the act of cheating or breaking the rules to gain an unfair advantage. A competitor who exhibits poor sportsmanship after losing a game or contest is often called a “sore loser” (those who show poor sportsmanship after winning are typically called “bad champs”). Sore loser behavior includes blaming others for the loss, not accepting responsibility for personal actions that contributed to the defeat, reacting to the loss in an immature or improper fashion, making excuses for the defeat, and citing unfavorable conditions or other petty issues as reasons for the defeat. A bad winner acts in a shallow fashion after his or her victory, such as by gloating about his or her win, rubbing the win in the face(s) of the opponent(s), and lowering the opponent(s)’s self-esteem by constantly reminding the opponent(s) of “poor” performance in comparison (even if the opponent(s) competed well). Read more
Cal Ripken plays in his 2,131st consecutive game, breaking Lou Gehrig’s record; truly one of baseball’s magical, once-in-a-lifetime moments.
Perfect PRACTICE Makes Perfect
Practice does not make perfect. How is that possible? Because bad habits may be practiced, and practicing a flawed technique will get a player nowhere. The only way to do something is to do it right. Practicing good habits is what makes a better player. Habits are formed in practice and then become automatic in the game. You play like you practice; If you practice correctly, you will play correctly.
TEACHING Baseball… Printable Lessons as well as Video Lessons (click hyperlinks below) on the Basic Fundamentals of Hitting, Infield & Outfield Play, Pitching and even a Glossary. Instructors include Cal Ripken Jr., Billy Ripken, John Habyan and Joe Orsulak.
Hitting is probably the most difficult part of the game. However, it is also the most enjoyable and satisfying part, as we all love to hit a baseball. It’s difficult because the pitcher has the ability to throw the ball hard, or not so hard, or to make it curve or sink. As the hitter, we not only have to determine what pitch has been thrown, but also whether it is a strike or a ball. If it is a strike, we have to attempt to hit it. All of this must be done in a fraction of a second. Like all parts of the game there are basic fundamentals that can help make us become better hitters. Click on Hitting Lessons with Cal: Fundamentals, Choose Right Bat, Right Grip, Stance, Weight Shift, Release Point, Stride, Swing, Tee Drill, Soft Toss Drill, One Hand Drill, Make It Fun
Outfield play, especially at the youth levels, often gets overlooked. Even though the outfielder is not directly involved in the majority of plays, coaches need to stress the importance of the position. An outfielder has to be able to maintain concentration throughout the game, because there may only be one or two hit balls that come directly to that player during the course of the contest. Those plays could be the most important ones. There also are many little things an outfielder can do — backing up throws and other outfielders, cutting off balls and keeping runners from taking extra bases, and throwing to the proper cutoffs and bases – that don’t show up in a scorebook, but can really help a team play at a high level. Click on Outfield Lessons with Joe Orsulak: Straight Away, Good Stance, Pick Up Ball Off Bat, Cross Over Step, Drop Step, DS Drill, Get To Spot, Catch Ball, Fast-Slow-Fast, Throwing-Grip, Throw Using Body-Crow Hop, Make Accurate Throw
Upper Reserve Section 344-354 (Rows 13-25). The individual ticket price is normally $17.00 for Upper Reserve. Additional 10% transaction fee ($1.00 per ticket). If you are having trouble connecting to MLB ticket order entry site, copy & paste the following url into your browser address bar: www.orioles.com/rolandpark
What do people learn going to a professional baseball game? Well, if you have never been before, it’s FUN! Not to mention, Camden Yards is considered one of the BEST stadiums in Major League Baseball in the entire country. It’s both exciting and entertaining. It can be very competitive and suspenseful depending on the pitchers.
As a Head Coach for over 10 years, I am a “student of the game” and continue to learn new things going to a live baseball game. In my own experience, the benefits are countless!
Whether you are going with your son or going as a team, it’s a great bonding experience. Plus, the coach often can learn more about the player be better able to relate to them. Best of all, the kids witness first-hand, real time some of the best professionals in a chosen field of discipline – baseball. Watching MLB players performing at the highest level of skill is awesome, especially when you consider how much they are getting paid.
Coaches and baseball teams can build on all the PRACTICE hours, days and weeks trying to run drills by explaining situations and the reasons why. There is also a well-known FACT in the “Art of Pedogogy” – people can learn from reading it in a book, listening, watching or doing.
Teaching fundamental skills is very difficult if you don’t have much passion, interest and some natural ability. Read more
Having been to a large number of summer/fall showcases and tournaments, I can tell you the wasted feeling of having your son play in front of nobody. We’ve been to tournaments where you feel there isn’t a scout within a hundred miles. Now partly that’s on the showcase organization. They have the opportunity to pick the tournaments well in advance and they know which ones are going to attract the most colleges.
But you want to be able to walk around and simply bump into a half-dozen college coaches on your way to the restroom! Call it the “restroom test” or whatever you want to call it. It’s a feeling that there are a ton of scouts watching and thank goodness my son has the opportunity to play in front of these guys, whatever the result.
So without further delay, here are my top five tournaments for college recruiting followed by my top five showcases for college recruiting. Note, these were selected with college recruiting as the top priority versus pro-scouts, and without any hard college attendance numbers (I’m always skeptical of these numbers anyway). It’s the “restroom test” based on our actual experiences from what we’ve seen with our own two eyes or heard from other reliable parents.
Top 5 Tournaments For College Recruiting
PerfectGame – 16U WWBA National Championship (Cartersville, GA – early July)
Honorable Mention: ProspectWire – World Series (Pt. St. Lucie – late July), Prospect Select – Black Bear Classic (Greenville, SC – late June), Prospect Select – Boston Open (Boston – mid July)
Note: The PerfectGame WWBA World Championship held in October in Jupiter, Florida, is a phenomenal tournament, but from what I saw, it was mainly for pro scouts. Many of the players were already committed to colleges years prior.
Top 5 Showcases for College Recruiting
PerfectGame – Junior National Showcase (Ft. Myers, FL – early June)
PerfectGame – Fall Top Prospect National Showcase (Cartersville, GA – late Oct)
PerfectGame – National Academic Showcase (Cartersville, GA – mid July)
ProspectSelect – Black Bear Select (Clemson Univ, SC – late June)
ProspectSelect – TOPPS Palm Beach (Palm Beach, FL – early June)
Honorable Mention: Many large showcase travel team organizations have their own showcases in November or early January. These showcases can attract large numbers of college coaches. I’ve been at one where there were close to 80 colleges. These are fantastic showcases to attend in lieu or in addition to the above.
Note: The PerfectGame National Showcase is “the” primetime national showcase. However, mostly all the players who attend have already committed to college and this is mainly a pro-scout showcase.
Behind the Curtain
But the caveat is that your showcase travel team better play at the right venues when they get to the heavily attended tournaments. What do I mean by that? Well, these tournaments are huge. 200+ teams in just one age group. Yes, that’s right. Some have over 300 teams. Imagine what the scheduling is like. A nightmare. They take every minor league complex and high school field within a 50-mile radius.
Thankfully there’s usually a hub centered around a minor league complex with eight+ fields or if you’re PerfectGame, you build a state-of-the-art complex in north Atlanta with a dozen+ fields. The scouts, as you might imagine for efficiency reasons, congregate around these “hubs”. It’s easier for them to see more players rather than driving 30-minutes away to some remote high school where they might just see one, maybe two, players. Sure, the scouts will go to the remote high school but if you’re constantly playing at these remote high school fields, then your coaches better be texting or hitting the phones non-stop to get the colleges to show up. It’s tough. Yes, your son can send emails or texts to coaches with his tournament schedule if he knows they’re at the tournament. But normally that’s hit or miss.
If your son plays for a larger showcase travel organization who brings 5+ teams in the same age group, then the likelihood of the best “prime” team getting to play at more “hubs” is greater than the organization who brings just two teams. Just saying. I have no hard evidence that this indeed happens regularly, but I’ve seen the scheduling and that’s just how it feels.
Also, with regards to showcases, be very cautious. Some are very expensive and at the end of the day, they won’t give your son the exposure. Some require tryouts and further progression in order to get to their national showcase. You can spin your wheels going from tryout to tryout with little to no exposure and then be left out of their “All-American” game or national showcase in the end. Read more
Travel Baseball: The Ultimate Guide for Parents and Players
For many families, the transition from Little League to travel baseball comes with stress, anxiety and questions about what to look for in a team and what to expect from the experience — not to mention the question of whether making the switch from a more laid-back rec ball program to a more competitive (and expensive) travel club is the right decision in the first place.
What is Travel Baseball? First, it’s important to understand what a travel baseball team is and how travel baseball is organized. There are tens of thousands of travel baseball teams around the country, and their popularity has exploded over the past two decades. As recently as the 1990s, travel baseball was a niche experience limited mostly to elite players in baseball-rich areas like Texas and California. Today, participation is seen by many as a near necessity for talented players to develop their skills and hone their game against the best competition they can find.
Whereas Little League is the dominant organization when it comes to recreational youth baseball, there are multiple organizations throughout the country that host hundreds of travel tournaments each year. Some of the biggest and most popular are USSSA (United States Speciality Sports Association), AAU (Amateur Athletic Union), Triple Crown Sports, and Perfect Game. Travel baseball teams often participate in tournaments organized by more than one of those organizations.
A team can be started by anyone. Many are formed by parents, but many others are formed by high school and former college coaches. Depending on their organizational goals, some programs have just one team that participates in one age bracket (such as 10 and under), while some are run like businesses and have teams that compete in every age group.
Here are eight things to think about when evaluating teams. These factors will make a big difference when it comes to your overall experience, so take the time to think about them, and don’t be afraid to ask questions of parents and coaches.
Coaching: A coaching staff can make or break a team. How coaches manage players, keep the game fun, instill the fundamentals, and focus on development — not only as athletes, but as young men and women — is extremely important. Some travel baseball teams have parents or grandparents serving as the head coach. While that can be fine, it’s important to make sure those coaches don’t make keeping their own child on the field a priority. Before committing to a team, spend some time researching it by watching a practice and talking to current and/or former players and parents.
Cost: For many parents, this is the most terrifying aspect of travel baseball. Just how much of a toll is this going to take on your bank account? The specific answer varies, but the typical range of cost for participating in travel baseball is between $500 and $2,500 per year. There are a number of specific factors that go into how much it costs to be on a team: * Where you live. * Whether you have to buy your own equipment. * Whether you have to rent facilities. * Whether or not coaches are paid. * How competitive the team is.
Location: As stated earlier, location is a key factor in deciding which travel team to play for. If you’re fortunate enough to live in California, Florida or Texas, you’re going to have a lot of opportunities to play with and against high-level competition right in your backyard. But outside of those states, it’s a little bit tougher, and you have to decide how committed you are to playing at the highest possible level. So you’ll be faced with the following choice: play on a lower level team that’s closer to home, or drive a hundred miles or more for twice-weekly practices? It may sound crazy, but many families do just that. Why would they commit so much time and money to their son or daughter’s athletic pursuits? It comes down to goals. Better teams often provide better coaching and more opportunities for exposure to college and professional scouts.
Mission: What’s the team’s mission? Is the focus on fun, player development, college exposure, or a mix of all there? Teams can have many different goals and missions, and there’s no right or wrong approach. However, it is possible that a team’s mission does not align with your values and goals, and you need to think about this before committing, as a compatibility mismatch can lead to coach-parent and coach-player tension.
Organization: Consider the reputation of the organization you’re evaluating. When you join a team, you and your son or daughter will essentially be endorsing everything the program stands for. If they’re known for dirty play or being disrespectful to the game, you’ll be associated with that. And believe it or not, the baseball world is a small and surprisingly tight-knit community. College coaches tend to know which programs produce bad apples — and they avoid them. In fact, many college coaches will completely write off an entire organization that has a reputation for not playing the game the right way or for having disrespectful players.
Playing Time: There’s an important balance between getting enough playing time and being challenged. Before committing, ask the coaching staff what kind of playing time your child can expect — including at what position. If there are two returning shortstops, he or she most likely won’t be playing there and might have to learn another position. That’s not a bad thing: college coaches want players that are versatile, and many players change positions as they get older and their bodies develop.
Skill Level: Be realistic about your child’s skill level, and pay attention to the level of competition around him or her at tryouts (i.e., the skill levels of the other players). If your kid has the fight and desire to compete for a spot (like they’ll have to do if they make it to college ball), then putting them on a team where they’ll be challenged is the best option. But if he or she is there to have fun and make friends, with no burning desire to be constantly improving, then choosing a travel team that’s more low-key will be the better call.
What You’re Giving Up: Travel baseball tournaments are on weekends, and players often have to sacrifice certain things that are part of a normal childhood. Is your son or daughter willing to miss out on things like birthdays, sleepovers and school dances, because most of their time is spent doing homework, traveling to and from games and practices, practicing on their own (possibly including private lessons), and spending nearly every summer weekend at the ballpark?
For some, their love of the game is so great that giving up these things is a no-brainer. For others, they may regret missing out on these social activities. And that’s perfectly fine! Just be honest with each other and talk about the true costs of travel baseball — because it’s not just the sticker price.
Travel Baseball Pros and Cons
There are positives and negatives when it comes to travel baseball. Here are a few of each.
Better competition: Players are more serious about the game and more driven to improve. This higher level of competition will help push your son or daughter to improve their own skills.
Better coaching: Travel baseball coaches tend to be better qualified, more knowledgeable, and better-connected. At the highest levels of travel ball, teams often employ former professional coaches.
More exposure: Aside from high school baseball, travel ball is the primary means of exposure to college coaches and pro scouts. Plus, travel teams often attend showcase tournaments and camps.
More games played: Travel teams play significantly more games per year than rec ball teams.
Facilitates travel: Sometimes seen as an ancillary benefit, the travel itself can be a valuable and eye-opening experience for players. Many kids don’t have an opportunity to travel out of their own area or state, and travel baseball can provide that.
Encourages character development: Because travel teams are more serious, there’s a greater emphasis put on things like being on time, demonstrating maximum effort, and having a good attitude.
Cost: Travel baseball is expensive — sometimes absurdly so. Families often spend around $2,500 per year, but the costs can be even higher.
Time commitment: Even a moderately competitive travel team can consume an entire summer’s worth of weekends.
Ultra-competitive: On most travel teams, there’s a balance between player development and winning. What you won’t often find is an “everybody plays” approach. For the most part, the best players will play the most, which makes for a highly-competitive environment.
Tougher workouts: This can be a pro or a con, depending on the player’s perspective and goals. Tougher workouts can lead to better outcomes, but they can also be mentally and physically taxing if the player isn’t fully invested.
Lack of diversity: Because travel baseball is expensive, it has often been criticized for a lack of socioeconomic and racial diversity.
Remember, this is your child’s choice to. Help them see the pros and cons of each option. And although we stated it earlier, we cannot stress this enough: you cannot dictate your son or daughter’s commitment to the game of baseball. It’s up to them. So, support them in whatever capacity they want to participate. If you do, they’ll never regret or forget the amazing experiences, friends, and lessons learned playing this great game. Read more
Tippy Martinez, retired MLB pitcher showed up after the Championship game for a “photo op”. He was a major weapon in the 1983 Baltimore Orioles World Series Championship over the Phillies. Read more
Notice the diversity of kids. This was another banner year because Emmanuel who batted in the 4-hole struggled all season. However, he came alive when it counted. He hit 2 bombs completely out of the ballpark (over 300 feet as an 11 year old). They are still the longest balls ever hit on Memorial Field.
The Panthers are looking for rising stars to join our 14U travel baseball team this coming season. Players must NOT turn 15 before May 1, 2021.
Saturday, September 5, 2020 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM Fullerton Park
4400 Fullerton Avenue, 21236
Those interested in a private/Covid-safe tryout need to register online and send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Our Program:
FUNDAMENTALS! As Head Coach, I could not say enough about the mistakes many, many young players, parents and coaches make when it comes to teaching kids the basic ingredients of baseball. “Repetition is the MOTHER of SKILL”. Cal Ripken says, “Practice does not make perfect. Rather Perfect Practice does”.
It doesn’t matter if you are 8 years old or 18 years old, the key ingredient is: Development, Playing Time and being around a Competitive Environment. My Top 3 Goals at every practice and every game is to have FUN, do your BEST and always behave in a way that exemplifies good SPORTSMANSHIP.
Coach Brooks played little league travel baseball since he could walk and won the 18U Maryland State Championship, was a former high school athlete with over 8 varsity letters and even played competitive baseball on some semi-pro teams. He has been coaching for over 10 years and has experience coaching on several high schools in the Baltimore area.
Scott Massengill, Assistant Coach also has enormous sports background and great attitude about the game. He has coached for over 5 years and loves seeing players develop!
We will compete in the M.A.B.A. as well as Regional Tournaments in the Fall, Spring and Summer. Approximate cost will be $500 per player (subject to change depending on sponsorships and fundraising). We have a variety of training opportunities offered throughout the off season and in season such as position specific development clinics, indoor facilities @ Extra Innings and NCAA college player instruction.
Some of my favorite players include Hank Aaron, Aaron Judge, Rickey Henderson and Babe Ruth.
THE LEADOFF: Your leadoff should be one of your team’s best hitters and fastest players. The goal of any good leadoff hitter is to get on base, however they can. Your on-base percentage leader should fit well in the leadoff spot, if you’re keeping track of that stat. Remember, whether they hit the ball for contact or they walk, they’ve got to get on base.
Speed is a plus for this position. Don’t look for power in the leadoff—save power hitters for later when there are more baserunners positioned. If your kids are competing for this spot, remind them that the leadoff hitter usually only leads once.
2 SPOT: The 2-spot player is on-deck at the start of the game and should be a fundamentally sound hitter. You must rely on them to make contact with the ball. The goal of the second hitter is to advance your leadoff player, as well as make it on-base themselves. Players who frequently strike out will kill momentum in this position.
3 HOLE: Just as before, the 3 hole should be one of your team’s best hitters. This can be someone who has a great batting average and doesn’t lack power.
This position should be filled by a good all-around hitter who really gets the concept of batting against another player. You want the 3 hole to move players around, or drive in the first runs of the game. If you look at your stats and see a player with a comparatively high batting average, a couple doubles and several RBIs on the season, try batting them third.
CLEANUP: One of the most admired spots in the batting lineup, the cleanup position is typically your most powerful hitter. In youth baseball, that doesn’t just mean the player that has a lot of homeruns. The cleanup player hits the ball hard. Hard hits typically get through the infield and sometimes can get to an outfield gap or even past an unskilled outfielder. When this player steps to the plate, the infielders take a step back.
5 POSITION: Sometimes the cleanup hitter doesn’t quite clear the bases—and that’s what the 5-spot is for. Like the cleanup position, the player batting fifth should have higher than average batting power. This player should not strike out as much as feast-or-famine cleanup hitter, but should still be able to crank out a few doubles or hard-hit singles. When you examine your stat sheet, look for players who are hitting more than singles and are in the bottom half of all strikeouts (or who have a lower-than-average strikeout to at-bat ratio). Throughout the year, you’ll want to switch up your fourth and fifth positions. This will challenge your players and give you a better idea of who fits best in which role.
SPOTS 6 & 7: Unless you’re one lucky youth baseball coach, this is where you’ll probably reach a challenge in your lineup. The 6 and 7 spots are important in your lineup, even if they don’t perform as well at the plate. A batting average of .200 or .225 can wreak havoc on the other team. Hope for singles from these players, or try putting a good bunter in this role. If you’ve got players who are about equal in hitting ability, speed should be the deciding factor.
BATTING 8: At the youth level, the 8 spot is ideal for developing hitters. In many cases, the 8 position is for a player who is the worst fundamental hitter on your team and strikes out the most. Remember, every team has a player who has not yet caught onto hitting.
9 PLAYER: This less-than-desirable spot is often reserved for the weakest hitter on the team—but we think the nine guy is worth extra consideration.
At the youth level, you should make it a habit to shuffle your 7 to 9-spot hitters, so you do not consistently send a negative message to any one player. The 9 spot should not go to your player who strikes out the most, but someone who you’ve seen scatter singles throughout the season. This player could jumpstart a middle inning for the top of the order.
BATTING THROUGH YOUR LINEUP
In many youth baseball organizations, your team must bat through the lineup. That is to say, if you have 12 kids on a team, all 12 must bat before you start at the top of the order. In these cases, we suggest you follow the above guidelines for positions 1 to 7 then rotate players 8 to 12, keeping them even on at-bats when the season closes.
Remember, your job as coach is to ensure your roster is having fun, developing skills and gaining confidence. Playing a less competitive team? Consider changing up your lineup to challenge your team and give everyone an opportunity. They may surprise you—and themselves.
Well Coached Players: “The best situation for all of us is for you to plan on handing these kids over to me and the assistant coaches when you drop them off, and plan on them being mine for the 2 or so hours that we have scheduled for a game, or the time that we have scheduled for the practice. I would like for these boys to have some responsibility for having their own water, not needing you to keep running to the concession stand, or having parents behind the dugout asking their son if they are thirsty, or hungry…
Players on the bench will not be messing around. I will constantly be talking with them about situations and what they would be doing if they were in a specific position, or if they were the batter.” ~Mike Matheny. Often I find myself saying to my 10 year old son, “Help me, Help you” similar to scene from Jerry Maguire played by Tom Cruise. However, be careful showing this to young women because clip ends with Cuba Gooding parading around locker room in the nude (Caution: R rated).
Nevertheless, whether you are a sports agent or a parent coach, the responsibility and sacrifice can be daunting at times, to say the least.
Baserunning is a fundamental of the game that incorporates many facets that players can work on no matter what their running speed. Coaches of young players often do not work with their teams on this part of the game. Running the bases is an art. If coaches teach baserunning correctly, they will increase the ability of their players to steal bases and take extra bases. Fast base runners force fielders to throw to another base because the runner got there quicker than the fielder expected. In the field, faster players are able to get to and catch more balls. Before working on baserunning, coaches need to teach young players how to run properly and have them run every day to get faster. Speed and agility training is an important part of helping young players develop their athleticism. After a young player has developed his athleticism, all the facets of baserunning become a lot easier. Most of the time players cannot develop athleticism by playing baseball. This should be a priority when it comes to helping young players run the bases better.
To work on running and running the bases, your warm-ups in practice and before games need to be organized around running. Running needs to become a habit for young players. You can begin and end practices with fun running drills and games. Keep in mind that you always want to end practices with a competitive and fun activity because the last thing they do is what they remember. You want them remembering that practice was fun so that they learn faster.
Coaches should talk to track coaches to learn the proper running techniques so that they can help their players run better. Track coaches can teach the techniques and drills that allow players to perfect their running.
A few things need to be taught to help with all facets of baserunning. First is the ability to move quickly from one spot to another. This art is used in baseball and in many other sports. It begins with the hip turn, pushing off one foot and going. This turn will help runners and fielders. In this technique, players turn their hips as quickly as possible, keep the feet low to the ground, and turn on the angle that they need to run. The hip turn helps them move their feet faster. As they turn their hips and their feet touch the ground, they push off with the back foot. This turn can be practiced in warm-up drills, as we explain in the following drills. Read more
To be a well-rounded baseball player, you must develop and practice your base running skills. As my Guide To Base Running Strategy states, because rounding the bags happens almost every play, it is critical to allot time each practice to base running.
To be a talented base runner, you must first recognize when the defense makes a mistake, then be able to capitalize on the opportunity. Develop your team’s base running skills with the following four drills. Each base running drill can be practiced individually, in small groups, or as a team—to incorporate a unified base running mentality.
Base Running Drills
Ground Ball Reads: Anytime a player can eliminate the need for a sacrifice bunt to preserve an out, it’s a huge advantage for the offense. Consider the benefit for your team if you habitually advanced from first base to third through a series of steals.
The Drill: The drill begins with a runner at first, taking a conservative lead. The coach feeds himself the ball and hits it toward centerfield. When the coach feeds himself the ball—the toss serves as the pitch—the runner takes a secondary lead. Once the ball is hit, the runner reacts to the ball by sprinting to second base, while keeping his eye on the ball and the fielder. Before arriving at second base, the runner should have already made a decision on whether to advance to third. As a rule of thumb, continue to third base if you reach second before the outfielder has the ball. Keep in mind: it’s far easier to slam on the brakes than turn on the jets. If the fielder has the ball, simply round the bag and watch the throw, ready to take advantage of a throwing error.
Dirtball Reads: When a pitcher throws a ball in the dirt, take advantage of the opportunity by stealing an extra base. If a ball skips away from the catcher, runners must take advantage of the situation by advancing. The trouble lies with in-between balls, those that stray out of the batter’s box but not out of the dirt circle. This is where a little anticipation comes in handy. Know the count, the situation, where the other runners are and what they may be thinking. If it’s a breaking ball count (0-2, 1-2, even 1-1), expect a ball in the dirt and take an extra step toward the next base. This drill should be performed with a loaded infield and any number of runner combinations. The runners should start at any base in the infield. The coach short hops the ball to home plate, so the catcher, forced to block the ball, allows the runners time to read the situation and quickly decide whether to advance to the next base. The coach should keep the runners honest by mixing in strikes.
Tennis Ball Drop: Obviously, there is no better way to improve your stealing skills than to face a pitcher practicing his pickoff moves. However, this opportunity isn’t always available. When a pitcher isn’t available, use the Tennis Ball Drop drill to improve your reaction time. With a player on the pitcher’s mound holding a tennis ball, the runner takes a lead off first base. The player releases the tennis ball, triggering the runner’s break for second base. Whether the runner runs the full distance to second base, the first ten feet, or halfway, it doesn’t matter, since the first few steps are most important. The player on the mound should vary his release time to eliminate any chance for the runner to time up the pitch.
Resistance Steal Breaks: When it comes to stealing, your first step is your most important. This drill can be done with a tennis ball, a live pitcher or verbal signals. The runner starts by taking a normal lead off first base. Instead of balancing his weight on both feet equally, the runner should exaggerate his lean toward second base by placing more weight on his right foot. A partner standing to the right of the runner place his hands on the runner’s forward leaning (right ) shoulder. The runner should feel somewhat unbalanced. Once in this position, the partner lets go, then pushes the runner forward, propelling him into a sprint. This forces the runner to run fast enough to keep his balance. This drill makes the runner explode out of the gate toward second base. Again, the distance you run can vary between the first ten feet to the entire distance. Just make sure to concentrate on a good start. Read more
Excellence: Baseball is an island of activity amidst a sea of statistics. Baseball is also the only place in life where a sacrifice is really appreciated. “Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.”
In 1991, I learned the importance of “Drop Your Agenda” during IBM sales training in Atlanta, GA. This was several weeks long of classes that taught us the importance of PLANNING. See, there is only one thing you have 100% control over when it comes to a sales call—that’s your preparation.
Meanwhile, this basic principle has followed me throughout my entire career. I reinvented myself over 3 times including becoming a successful stock broker for Paine Webber and instructor for Towson University. Today I mainly focus on Information Technology and Coaching Baseball and Soccer.
My experience with computers began in 1978 when my father started a programming business designing custom solutions to the construction, manufacturing, and distribution industry. I later attended University of Maryland in College Park and Johns Hopkins University and earned a Master’s Degree in MIS.
These skills have served me well on the ballfield. For example, last year I took a team that never won a game in the previous season (RPBL Baze) to the championships. Read more
Well, once again that dream came true this year with the Junior Orioles. Back in April 2017 when we began, i noticed very quickly many of the challenges that lies ahead. This Thursday, June 8th is our Game Seven.
One thing is for sure, it’s better to be “Safe than Sorry“.
sponsored by Roland Park Baseball Leagues (RPBL) will be a series of four WORKSHOPS at local indoor facilities convenient to Roland Park. These events are designed to address all five of our little league age groups teaching various SKILLS including hitting, base running, infield, outfield, pitching and catching as well as, organizing an effective practice.
Beginner – targeting T-Ball and International League Teams (ages 5-8) Intermediate – targeting National and American League In-house Teams (ages 9-11) Advanced – targeting Teen League and Travel Teams (ages 9-15)
Date: Saturday, February 17 Times: (each workshop is approx. 90 minutes each)
9:00 AM – Beginner
10:30 AM – Intermediate
12:30 PM – Advanced
Location: S3 Training Center Address: 1412 Shoemaker Road Balt., MD 21209 Guest Speakers: Impact Sports founder Brett Linnenkohl and Coach Dave Meile;
Bill Greenwell, Boys Latin Coach; Brooks Kerr, Calvert Hall Coach and Joe Palumbo, Archbishop Spalding Coach
Date: Sunday, February 25 | Time: 12:00 – 3:00 PM Location: Gilman (middle school gym) | Address: 5407 Roland Avenue Guest Speakers: Larry Sheets and Russell Wrenn, Gilman Coaches
Date: Sunday, March 4 | Time: 12:00 – 3:00 PM Location: Boys Latin (middle school gym) | Address: 822 W Lake Avenue Guest Speaker: Bill Greenwell, Boys Latin Coach
Date: Sunday, March 11 | Time: 2:30 – 4:30 PM Location: Friends (wrestling room / gym) | Address: 5114 N. Charles Street Guest Speakers: Impact Sports founder Brett Linnenkohl and Coach Dave Meile
Bios of our Trainers
(and a few Cameo Appearances)
Brooks Kerr Calvert Hall Varsity Coach
A 1987 Calvert Hall graduate, played varsity baseball as well as basketball and football during his years at Calvert Hall. After graduating from The Hall, Coach Kerr attended Frostburg State University and was a 4-four year baseball letterman and captain his senior year. He is among Frostburg State’s leaders in on-base-percentage, stolen bases and fielding percentage.Coach Kerr joined the Calvert Hall coaching staff in 1992 as the first Freshmen Baseball team Head Coach. He then became the Head Coach on the Junior Varsity in 1993 and won 5 MIAA championships from 1993 to 2000. Coach Kerr became the assistant varsity coach in 2002 and currently is a Guidance Counselor at The Hall. Frostburg State Univeristy – B.S.
Joe Palumbo Archbishop Spalding Varsity Coach
As a high school player, Joe Palumbo provided the spark that drove DeMatha to three straight WCAC baseball championships. When Archbishop Spalding named him as his father’s replacement as head coach on June 19, it was Palumbo’s competitive fire and winning ways that once again set him apart.At DeMatha, Joe was always a coach on the field, says DeMatha Head Coach Sean O’Connor. He was a great two-sport athlete. I am really happy for him and I think he will do a great job at Spalding.In 2004, the All-County shortstop was the Stags’ co-captain and co-MVP on the baseball diamond as well as the valedictorian of his senior class. Palumbo’s efforts earned him a scholarship to the University of Maryland where he went on to play. At Maryland, Palumbo earned All-Academic ACC honors and was known by his coaches for his leadership abilities and clutch hitting.
As an alumnus of Spalding and being Joe’s brother I’m excited, said Dan Palumbo, head coach of the 14U Chesapeake Baseball Association champion Southern Maryland Red River Dogs. Spalding baseball is in good hands. As far as a transition is concerned, Joe will carry on many of my dad’s traditions at Spalding and the players will benefit greatly from that.Continuity in the hand-off between father and son will be a key element in the Cavaliers’ continued success. After winning the MIAA A championship in 2011 and coming close in 2012, Jeff Palumbo, Joe’s father, stepped down from his position at Spalding this spring and accepted the job of president and principal of Pallotti High School in Laurel.Joseph will be great for the players at Archbishop Spalding, says Jeff Palumbo. He is intensely competitive with a great knowledge of the game. He understands what it takes, on and off the field, to compete at the highest levels of high school and college baseball.
In college, Joe Palumbo faced some of the ACC’s best talent, including future big-leaguers Matt Wieters, Ryan Zimmerman, Ryan Braun and Buster Posey, but big challenges have never daunted the 26-year-old Bowie native. When it comes to baseball I’m very similar to my father, says Joe Palumbo. We’ll play aggressive baseball at Spalding. We’ll take some chances on the base paths. We’re going to create runs any way possible. At the plate we’re going to be a team of tough outs. We’ll play with passion and it will be my job to put my players in a good position to succeed and win games. Read more
Larry Sheets Gilman Varsity Coach
Born December 6, 1959 in Staunton, Virginia, and is a former Major League Baseball outfielder and designated hitter who played for the Baltimore Orioles, Detroit Tigers, and Seattle Mariners from 1984 to 1990 and 1993. He also played one season in Japan for the Yokohama Taiyo Whales in 1992.Sheets attended Eastern Mennonite University, where he played basketball. He was named to the Old Dominion Athletic Conference’s all-conference second team in 1980 and to the first team in 1982. He graduated from Eastern Mennonite in 1984. He was named to Eastern Mennonite’s athletic hall of fame in 1988. Sheets currently operates a youth sports facility in Westminster, Maryland, and serves as Gilman School’s head Varsity Baseball coach.He has a son named Gavin in the Chicago White Sox organization. Read more | Stats
Russell Wrenn Gilman Varsity Coach
Coach Wrenn was a three-sport athlete at Gilman. His senior year, he played on the 1996 A Conference championship baseball team; Gilman’s first A conference championship in baseball. Wrenn went on to play baseball and football at Washington & Lee. Wrenn’s college coaching career started in 2000, when he coached football and baseball at Dickinson College. Wrenn next moved to Johns Hopkins, where he worked for legendary baseball coach Bob Babb for two seasons, before returning to Dickinson as the head baseball coach from 2003-2006. As the youngest full-time college baseball coach in the country, Wrenn led Dickinson to their first (and only) conference playoff appearance in his first season. The program established eight school records during Wrenn’s tenure.
Wrenn spent a decade coaching at The Westminster Schools in Atlanta before returning to his alma mater Gilman in 2016. Wrenn’s Westminster baseball teams experienced unparalleled success, culminating in the school’s first baseball state championship in forty-one years in 2016. Wrenn’s Westminster teams won two region titles and advanced to the state semifinals or finals four consecutive seasons – no other school in the state of Georgia accomplished this level of sustained success from 2013-2016. Wrenn was named the state coach of the year in 2013 and 2016, Atlanta Braves Metro Coach of the Year in 2016, and the America Baseball Coaches Association’ Regional High School Coach of the Year in 2016. Wrenn helped mentor Westminster baseball players who went on to play for LSU, Georgia Tech, Duke, Missouri, Notre Dame, Harvard, Wofford, Butler, Mercer, Richmond, W&L, and the 2016 1st-round draft pick of the Cleveland Indians. Russell is married to Erin Wrenn, a lawyer in the state Attorney General’s office, and they have three children, Ronan (8), Cormac (6), and Cavan (4). Gilman News | Read more
Bill Greenwell Boys Latin School of MD Varsity Head Coach
MIAA B Conference (Champions 2017 and 2016)
1992-2012 Grand Slam USA Owner and director of instruction
1999-2001 Seattle Mariners Associate Scout
2001-2003 Park School Varsity Head Baseball Coach
2004 Harford Community College Assistant Baseball Coach and Recruiting Coordinator
2008-2013 Diamond Pros and Fowble Foundation Head Coach
2011-Present Boys’Latin Head Baseball Coach
Brett Linnenkohl Founder of Impact Sports Baseball
Former Friends School Varsity Baseball Head Coach (MIAA B Conference). Impact founder Brett Linnenkohl always had passion and talent for sports. His dedication took him from little league all-star teams to all-state awards in high school, successes which made him the envy of top Division-1 programs like University of Washington, Oregon State, Oklahoma State, Kansas, Dartmouth, NC State, and Washington State University.In 2004, Brett was a projected 7th round draft pick by MLB.com, but decided to attend Wake Forest University and become a Demon Deacon. Between seasons at Wake, Brett played on college summer circuit, including the notable Alaska and Cape Cod Leagues. An unfortunate injury in 2008 extinguished Brett’s playing career, but sparked a fire for coaching that still burns today. Impact Baseball | Baltimore Sun | College Baseball
Dave Meile Impact Baseball Instructor
Coach Dave played at Shepherd University on scholarship, playing infield and providing the power in the middle of the lineup. Dave continued his career as a coach a Frostburg State University, assisting the team to their first CAC championship. He has worked with numerous kids in surrounding leagues through Impact and has earned the reputation as one of top youth development coaches in the area. Coach Dave is an expert not only in the game of baseball, but a true expert in inspiring athletes to give their all in every workout, while making it fun and enjoyable. Read more
Mike Gottlieb Former Towson University Coach
Mike Gottlieb has been associated with the Towson baseball program for nearly four decades. Gottlieb came to Towson as a player, before joining Bill Hunter’s staff as an assistant coach. He took over as the Tigers head coach prior to the 1988 season. Since taking over, Gottlieb has led Towson to 713 victories, three conference tournament championships and three trips to the NCAA Tournament.Gottlieb made an immediate impact in his first season as head coach, leading the Tigers to their first appearrance in the NCAA Tournament. He guided Towson to a 30-17-1 record, including capturing the East Coast Conference regular season championship with a 12-2 record.
Junior Brady Policelli led the CAA with a .375 average on his way to earning First-Team All-CAA honors. Policelli would be drafted in the 13th round of the Detroit Tigers. Under his guidance, Gottlieb has had 16 players selected in the Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft, while a handful of other players have signed professional contracts. Left-hander pitcher Chris Nabholz became the first Towson player under Gottlieb to make it to the majors. Nabholz made his major league debut for the Montreal Expos on June 11, 1990, after being selected by the Expos in the second round of the 1988 draft. Nabholz is still the highest drafted player in Towson history.
Casper Wells became the second player from the Gottlieb era to make it to the majors when he made his debut with the Detroit Tigers on May 15, 2010. Wells was selected by the Tigers in the 14th round of the 2005 draft. Gottlieb is also responsible for recruiting and coaching all eight All-Americans and all three Freshman All-Americans in school history. He has also coached seven Academic All-Americans and 18 Academic All-District honorees. Read more
Rob Slade Strength & Conditioning Trainer
As owner and developer of the Sport-Speed-Strength Training Program, Rob Slade is the true keystone of S3 Training Center. As a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (C.S.C.S) NSCA, Rob has been training sports teams and individual athletes as well as Police and Firemen since 1981. Rob was awarded the Division 1 Collegiate Conference Strength Coach of the Year (Two times) NSCA. Rob’s past training experience also includes being the former strength and conditioning coach as well as the Assistant Track Coach for UMBC. He also was the former Strength Coach for the USA Sailing and Chessie Racing Teams. Rob has personally trained and provided fitness training for several Police and Fire Departments including Howard County, Maryland State Police and Baltimore County. He is a graduate of Towson State University and is from the Baltimore area. Rob is the physical education instructor for several schools in the area. Finally he holds several patents for the design of exercise equipment used in training. Facebook
Joe Orsulak Private Instructor
Joe’s career spanned 1983 to 1997, with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Baltimore Orioles, New York Mets, Florida Marlins, and Montreal Expos. Orsulak, who threw and batted left-handed, played mostly in the outfield, although he played some games at first base. On the basepaths, he had better than average speed, until a 1987 knee injury slowed him down. His strong arm helped him lead the league, in 1991, in outfield assists. In 1992 he made the first out at the Orioles’ new Camden Yards ballpark, going on to lead the team that year in batting average. Despite his relatively long career (with five major league clubs), he never played in the post-season in the Majors. Wikipedia / NY Times / Baseball Warehouse
Sam Snider Private Instructor
Sam was with the Baltimore Orioles from 1980-2007 serving as the batting practice pitcher, bullpen catcher and bullpen coach. Sam was hired full time with the Orioles by Cal Ripken Sr. in 1987. In his time with the Orioles he threw batting practice to Hall of Famers Eddie Murray and Cal Ripken Jr. and warmed up greats such as Jim Palmer, Scott McGregor and Mike Mussina in the bullpen. After the Orioles, Sam went on to coach in the Atlantic League alongside Orioles Hall of Famers Chris Hoiles and Tippy Martinez for the York Revolution. He briefly managed the team in 2009. Sam has 30 years of professional baseball experience and is a wealth of knowledge in all areas of the game. Facebook
I would like to thank Kurt Overton, Bill Greenwell, Rob Slade, Andrew Wolfe, Chris McCullough, Tim Holley and all the Athletic Directors for making this happen and letting us use their indoor facility!
Also, special thanks to ALL the Trainers, including Brett Linnenkohl for providing solid support to RPBL for many years and making a big impact on the development of some outstanding baseball players.
These events are a direct response to some of the feedback from our parents during the 2017 Spring In-house season. We heard your voice and want to make RPBL better. Instructors will include the very best in the business – high school, college and MLB professionals. Also, be sure to check-out some of the “Ripken Way“ online videos and RPBL Coaches’ page. +
Just about every athlete that I ever played ball with (including soccer, as well as other individual and team sports) always wanted to be the BEST. One of my most competitive sports was perhaps swimming. I used to train with Reds Hucht, coach of Knights of Columbus Orchards (KCO) back in 1980-81 when I was at the climax of my athletic career. I even made it to the Junior Olympics qualifying in 50 backstroke. Reds coached at Calvert Hall and KCO for over 50 years. Read Legacy and MD Hall of Fame.
However, baseball was always and remains to be my favorite sport. In fact, this article is a tribute to Duane Rhine, my good buddy growing up together in Bel Air, MD. I remember playing baseball with Duane just about every day and hitting balls into a “homemade batting net” he built in his backyard. He was a superstar at Bel Air High School and went on to play for some top colleges.
Well, the biggest RISK in life is not trying something you might be afraid of. At least I gave it a shot and tried out for the Baltimore Orioles back in 1985 after I graduated Boys Latin High School. I also tried out for the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates that same year. Interestingly, a noteworthy teammate of mine, Brian Kowitz went on to play in the Major Leagues for the Atlanta Braves. Also, that year our Cockeysville travel team won the Maryland State Championship and went up to the Meadowlands in New Jersey to compete in a regional tournament. Duane played short stop on the team. Some other great baseball players during that era were Brian Bark (MLB player from Randalstown), as well as Mark Belanger and Terry Crowley who both had sons that I ran into on the ballfield.
Perhaps the highest level of baseball I competed in was in the All-American Amateur Baseball Association (AAABA). I played for Wagners Baseball who typically always gave Johnny’s a run for the money. Often we split a series. Brian Bark I recall was their star pitcher and I faced him a few times. In case you are not familiar with AAABA, here is a little history.
Johannes Peter “Honus” Wagner (February 24, 1874 – December 6, 1955) was an American baseball shortstop who played 21 seasons in Major League Baseball from 1897 to 1917, almost entirely for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Wagner won eight batting titles, tied for the most in National League history with Tony Gwynn. He also led the league in slugging six times, and in stolen bases five times. Wagner was nicknamed “The Flying Dutchman” due to his superb speed and German heritage.
In 1936, the Baseball Hall of Fame inducted Wagner as one of the first five members. He received the second-highest vote total, behind Ty Cobb and tied with Babe Ruth. Although Cobb is frequently cited as the greatest player of the dead-ball era, some contemporaries regarded Wagner as the better all-around player, and most baseball historians consider Wagner to be the greatest shortstop ever. Cobb himself called Wagner “maybe the greatest star ever to take the diamond.” In addition, Wagner is the featured player of one of the rarest and most valuable baseball cards in the world. Read more
Everyone remembers Earl Weaver from the 80’s. Well, another semi-pro team that I competed against was Johnny’s. Now it’s called Youse’s Maryland Orioles and the All America Amateur Baseball Association (AAABA) tournament in Johnstown, Pa., will be seeking an unprecedented fourth straight national title by Youse’s Orioles. They have continued a tradition of excellence that has lasted more than a half-century. For the last five years the team has played under the name of Youse’s Maryland Orioles, in honor of the late legendary coach, Walter Youse, who guided the team the previous 46 seasons. Dean Albany, the most recent of the impressive list of assistants who served under Youse, is in his fifth year as the team’s leader. He is only the third coach in the team’s 55-year history. References: Facebook | Twitter | Wikipedia | Baltimore Wire
Over that period of time, Baltimore’s AAABA representative has won 23 national championships and finished second eight times. At last count, 48 former players have gone to the big leagues, including two Hall of Famers. Two others went on to become major league general managers.
Ray Muhl was the manager of the first Leone’s team that featured Al Kaline. He turned over the reins to Youse in 1957. Youse ran the team under three different names until he passed away five years ago. The team operated under the Leone’s banner until 1972, then had long runs under the names of Johnny’s, sponsored by Johnny Wilbanks, and Corrigan’s, with former Leone’s pitcher Bill Corrigan backing the team. The club has operated as the Maryland Orioles for the last eight years, with the support of the major league team. Read more and Press Box article
Yankee Rebels Baseball Club
In spite of getting a glimpse of the AAABA league, the most memorable experience growing up was when I played for the Rebels.
Once again, Duane Ryan was on the team. I definitely have a lot of pride mentioning that team and it will forever remain in my heart! As a matter of fact, I ran into Joe Palmer, my old coach at Extra Innings last year.
This marks the 43rd Year Anniversary of the Storied Yankee Rebels Baseball Club. In 1969 Young Joseph and Francis Palmer fresh out of the US Air Force launched a series of Yankee Rebels Baseball Clinics, while piloting a new 14u Ball Club. The 1969 team had a rough start, finishing with a record of 5-22. Things improved quickly with the decision after 1972 to have Joe manage the 14u team and Francis to head up the new 16u team. By 1976, the Yankee Rebels Babseball Club began recieving national attention by winning births to three consecutive World Series. The Palmers became Pioneers in their cutting-edge teaching techniques that gave Young Rebel Players the clear advantage over their counterparts. College Coaches and Pro-Scouts were now bombarding the Coaching Staffs for recommendations on players for their specific programs. Francis stepped in to assume the duties of State Commissioner of AABC in 1978 to rescue the troubled program from folding. This program became the pre-cursor for the Baltimore Metro Baseball League that was turned over to Rebels Coach Roger Faw.
The next twenty-five years included the creation of High School Fall Ball Leagues and the East Coast Premiere Fall Showcase Program. The Yankee Rebels Fall Showcase Program was designed for Graduating High School Seniors. By 2001 the Yankee Rebels Baseball Club included players from all over the State of Maryland with over 90% of them continuing their play at the collegiate or pro levels. Thirty-eight former Rebels Players signed Major League Baseball Contracts over the past 43 years. The Rebels have won 61 State and 24 Regional Championships, while competing in 47 World Series. The Yankee Rebels Professional Tree remains strong today with former players representing coaching at the High School, College, and Professional Ranks. Rebel Players are also currently positioned in areas of Pro-Scouting, College and Professional Umpiring, and Front Office Personnel in Colleges and Major League Baseball. Joe Palmer remains active in the Yankee Rebels Organization today, serving as President with General Manager Sherman Reed, Sr running the day to day operations of the Club. Read more
Yankee Rebels president Joseph Palmer said he has noticed a distinct difference between kids today with kids five years ago. Palmer said that kids today don’t have great baseball skills because of a lack of dedication. “If I challenge a kid like I did five or 10 years ago, he walks away. They want everything with a snap of a finger and don’t want to work for it. It’s mainly because parents put their kids on a pedestal, and the kids then think they don’t have to practice the skills part of the game.”
“People wonder how a scrawny kid like Dave Johnson [from Middle River] made it to the major leagues,” Palmer said. “He made it with hard work and by gaining baseball skills. All you need to do is be willing to work.” Palmer said some kids want to play games more than they want to learn the game. For that reason, more kids now are choosing to play in summer leagues than joining baseball camps. “Kids don’t realize that no one is going to remember who won yesterday’s game,” Palmer said. “They are focused on the winning and losing part of the game, but they can put that time into developing skills that will help them in the future.” Read more
Sterling “Sheriff” Fowble
Class of 1936 McDaniel College
Although he was a four-sport Green Terror, he excelled in soccer and baseball. After playing semi-pro baseball, he scouted for the New York Mets and Cincinnati Reds, discovering greats like Al Kaline, Ron Swoboda, and Dick Boswell. He also was noted for working more than 30 years with 15- to 17-year-olds in Baltimore’s amateur leagues.
Fowble, coach 46 years on sandlots, dies at 76
Sterling “Sheriff” Fowble was a baseball man to the end. Only a few weeks ago he was saluted by a national organization as amateur coach of the year for Maryland. He went to a Western Maryland Hall of Fame affair and attended Carroll County and Patterson Park old-timers functions.
On Friday, Fowble, who managed 14-16 age group sandlot teams for 46 years in Baltimore, died of congestive heart failure at the age of 76.
For decades, when you thought of amateur baseball in this area, you thought primarily of two men: Fowble and Walter Youse, general manager of Johnny’s in an older age group.
When Orioles general manager Roland Hemond spoke at an old-timers’ banquet last year, he said: “If there were more men like Sheriff Fowble and Walter Youse in other cities, baseball would never have to worry about anything.”
More than 800 boys came under Fowble’s guidance. Last summer, even when his health was failing, he was general manager of the Harbor Federal Savings and Loan team and his wife of 51 years, Virginia, as always, was scorekeeper. Bill Becker, who played under Fowble in 1955, was manager.
“We had no children of our own, but every year we kept 18 boys out of trouble,” Virginia Fowble said. “We were the richest couple in the world.”
Fowble worked as an accountant for Bethlehem Steel for 42 years. On the side, he scouted for the Cincinnati Reds for 15 years and for the New York Mets for 22. But his passion, and Virginia’s, was their sandlot team.
Twelve players managed by Fowble went on to the major leagues, including Al Kaline, Dave Boswell, Phil Linz, Jim Spencer, Ron Swoboda and Moose Haas. Kaline wound up in the Hall of Fame.
Swoboda wound up in the outfield of the New York Mets when they upset the Orioles in the 1969 World Series. Today he is the sports anchor for WVUE-TV in New Orleans — and a grandfather.
“Sheriff didn’t have kids, but in another sense he had a whole lot of them,” Swoboda said. “I was lucky enough to be one of Sheriff’s boys. If you didn’t play for Sheriff and Youse in Baltimore, you didn’t make it in pro ball. I’d never have been elevated to Youse if it hadn’t been for Sheriff.”
It was Fowble who switched Swoboda from third base to the outfield. Swoboda was indignant. Even his mother was upset.
“In my first game in left field, on the Patterson Park diamond near the tennis courts, a ball was hit over my head,” Swoboda said. “I ran it down and threw the guy’s butt out at third base. I thought, ‘Hey, you can win games out here, too.’
“Sheriff was relentless. When you did something wrong, you heard about it. It was the first time a coach yelled at me. He was never malicious, never tore you down.
Fowble’s teams, known variously as High’s Ice Cream, High A.C., Gordon’s Stores, G & M Scrap, Highland Lanes, Hi-Landers, Highland Federal Savings and Loan and Harbor Federal, won 24 Baltimore City championships.
He had a couple of undefeated seasons and during a stretch from 1956-58, Gordon’s Stores won 83 straight. In their East Baltimore home, the Fowbles have a baseball for every year they were active with a team, except Kaline’s year, 1951. Sheriff said somebody took it out of the display case.
It all began one day in 1946 when a group of neighborhood boys knocked on the Fowbles’ door and told Virginia they wanted Sheriff to manage a baseball team.
“He’s down at the tavern playing cards,” Virginia said. “Go ask him. It would be good for him.”
An all-around athlete at Westminster High, Fowble went on to Western Maryland College and played four sports there. An outfielder, he spent a few weeks with a Boston Red Sox farm team in the Piedmont League, but couldn’t throw a lick because of a cranky shoulder that lingered from his football days. Read more
Today, I still try to keep in shape and enjoy swimming. It’s important to have heroes in life! Nevertheless, like I said earlier, the nice thing about sports is that it builds character, because there is always someone better than you tomorrow. In 2001 I competed in my first triathlon.
Last night the Junior Orioles lost to the Ravens. As much as I love competition, I hate to lose. However, it’s comforting to know why.
They played better than we did.
A runner-up is a participant who finishes in second place in any of a variety of competitive endeavors, especially sporting events and beauty pageants; in the latter instance, the term is applied to more than one of the highest-ranked non-winning contestants, the second-place finisher being designated “first runner-up”, the third-place finisher “second runner-up”, and so on.
While loosely acceptable for describing any second-place finisher in a sporting event, the “runner-up” label is more properly appended to one that finishes in that position as the result of having lost in the final round of an elimination tournament; specifically, its most frequent use is encountered in tennis, and refers to the player (or doubles team) that loses the final match; in most tennis tournaments, a testimonial award, often in the form of a plate, is given to the runner(s)-up following the final match, with the winner(s) receiving a trophy instead. It is rarely a term that is used in other sports.
In American team sports, the term is usually avoided in official circles, because the team losing in the final round of the postseason playoffs will have had to have won the championship of a lesser entity as a condition for reaching the finals; in basketball, American football and Ice hockey this would have been a conference championship, and in baseball a league championship, or colloquially, the league “pennant”. Consequently, the losing finalist will typically be referred to as the champion of its conference (or league in the case of baseball) rather than as a runner-up. Although the team that won the finals will also be a conference (or league in baseball) champion by necessity, it is usually not referred to as such because the title of “finals champion” carries more prestige.
In the Olympic Games, runners-up receive silver medals, and in competitions held at county and state fairs in the United States, a red ribbon traditionally identifies the runner-up (with a blue ribbon signifying the winner, and white, yellow, green, orange, purple, and brown being the colors associated with third through eighth places, in that order). Read more
The playoffs, play-offs, postseason and/or finals of a sports league are a competition played after the regular season by the top competitors to determine the league champion or a similar accolade. Depending on the league, the playoffs may be either a single game, a series of games, or a tournament, and may use a single-elimination system or one of several other different playoff formats. Playoff, in regard to international fixtures, is to qualify or progress to the next round of a competition or tournament.
In team sports in the U.S. and Canada, the vast distances and consequent burdens on cross-country travel have led to regional divisions of teams. Generally, during the regular season, teams play more games in their division than outside it, but the league’s best teams might not play against each other in the regular season. Therefore, in the postseason a playoff series is organized. Any group-winning team is eligible to participate, and as playoffs became more popular they were expanded to include second- or even lower-placed teams – the term “wild card” refers to these teams.
In England and Scotland playoffs are used in association football to decide promotion for lower finishing teams, rather than to decide a champion in the way they are used in North America. In the Championship (the second tier of English football) teams finishing 3rd to 6th after the regular season compete to decide the final promotion spot to the Premier League. Read more
An Olympic medal is awarded to successful competitors at one of the Olympic Games. There are three classes of medal: gold, awarded to the winner; silver, awarded to the 1st runner-up; and bronze, awarded to the second runner-up. The granting of awards is laid out in detail in the Olympic protocols.
Medal designs have varied considerably since the first Olympic Games in 1896, particularly in size and weight. A standard obverse (front) design of the medals for the Summer Olympic Games began in 1928 and remained for many years, until its replacement at the 2004 Games as the result of controversy surrounding the use of the Roman Colosseum rather than a building representing the Games’ Greek roots. The medals of the Winter Olympic Games never had a common design, but regularly feature snowflakes.
In addition to generally supporting their Olympic athletes, some countries provide sums of money and gifts to medal winners, depending on the classes and number of medals won. Read more
5 Ways To Help Your Infield Skin Rebound From Rain Quickly
(following excerpts are from original material at Ballfields.com)
While the western quarter of the US is battling a daunting drought, the central portion of the US has been dealing with lots of rain over the past couple of months. Think about it. In a three week span, the entire state of Texas went from a major 4-year drought to being totally drought free. It takes a lot of rain to knock out four years of drought in just three weeks. With all that rain, surely there are many who are having issues with trying to get their fields ready after a rain. Let’s take a look at what you can do to help your fields recoup from a rain event as quickly as possible.
Keep Your Infield Properly Graded First and foremost, make sure that your infield is properly graded to promote positive surface drainage. Ideally, the infield should be graded so that the area around the base of the pitcher’s mound is the highest point on the infield with the surface grade then sloping away from the mound in all directions. However, depending on the lay of the land that the field was built on, the other way of grading an infield would be to “sheet drain” it. This means the entire infield is tilted in one direction; for example, the infield may tilt from the first base foul line towards left field. In either instance, both of these surface grades are only efficient at draining the water off it if the surface is smooth and consistent. In other words, there are no high spots or low spots to impede or deflect the drainage. Proper nail and float dragging are crucial maintenance practices that, when done correctly, will keep your skin surface in smooth and consistent surface draining condition.
Maintain Your Turf Edges Maintaining your turf edges to prevent lip buildup will allow the water to easily pass over from infield skin to turf area without any issues. When infield soil and infield topdressing buildup in the edges of the grass, that ridge or “lip” impedes the water from freely moving off the field. The more severe the lip, the more water it will hold back onto the infield skin. Properly maintain those lips to keep them from slowing your field from recuperating.
Choose Appropriate Infield Soil Material
The right ￼infield soil material has a huge impact on speed of reentry onto an infield after a rain. Infield soils that are either high in silt or high in fine and very fine sand drastically effect how quickly the field is playable again after a rain. Even worse is when you have both problems! High silt and high fine sand content infield soils can take a day or multiple days to recuperate. Have your infield soil tested to check to see how your soil material lines up with the acceptable specifications. Strive for a balanced infield soil with the right amounts of medium to coarse sand and the proper ratio of silt to clay. It’ll make all the difference in the world as to how easy it will be getting the infield back into playing condition.
Use an Infield Top Dressing
Use a topdressing on your infield skin surface. An infield topdressing is a ¼” to ½” layer at the infield skin surface of a granular material that will not stick to a players cleat, even when wet. These materials, usually made of calcined clay, vitrified clay, expanded shale, crushed aggregate or crushed brick, tend to dry more quickly on the surface then if you just had the bare soil exposed. The topdressing will dry on the surface while your infield soil underneath is still moist, but the topdressing allows you still to reenter the field. It acts much like a mulch in a landscape bed and provides many benefits in the performance of the infield.
Drag the Field Before Rain Storms
When you know a rain is coming, keep the field dragged smooth if at all possible. The water will flow more easily and rapidly off the infield if it is smooth and not pock marked with cleat marks and divots. Additionally, keep the field TIGHT! A tight field absorbs less water than one that has been deeply nail dragged, which will create pore space for water to fill and slow the drying process down considerably after the rain event.
How it rains also can have an impact in how fast your field will recuperate and come back up online for play. A long, slow light to moderate rain of a couple hours or more is very penetrating and will be deeply absorbed by your infield soil. This type of a rain usually requires longer for the field to dry from. Compare that to a heavy rain lasting 15 to 30 minutes, or even an hour. This kind of rainfall, while possibly dumping many times the amount of water than a slow rainfall did, is a violent rainfall to the soil.
A former head groundskeeper for the Baltimore Orioles, Paul graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1984 with a Bachelor’s in Soil Science with a specialty in Turf & Grounds Management. Paul took over as head groundskeeper for the Orioles’ final season at old Memorial Stadium in Baltimore and then was heavily involved throughout the design and construction phases of Oriole Park at Camden Yards which debuted on April 4, 1992. Read more
Our little league recently tried a new strategy to encourage all hitters to pay closer attention to the strike zone and weaker hitters to have a better chance of getting on base…
I am a big believer in “base hits” win ballgames!
Unfortunately, our team has struck out 59 times in seven games. Breakdown per game: 13, 4, 6, 6, 10, 12 & 8.
MLB Traditional Methodology
Many coaches are in favor of giving up an out by bunting a runner over to second or even third base. I believe this is a bunting strategy that should be determined by a number of factors.
Is it a close game
Is it late in the game
Can the runner steal second instead of being bunted over
How well can the hitter bunt
What is the batting average and on base percentage of the hitter
It really doesn’t make any sense to me, to have a batter at the plate with a high on base percentage or batting average and have him make an out just to move a runner over one base, especially
I may give you in a very close game where one run will win it to
bunt a man over to third with no outs, then have a squeeze bunt if the next hitter is a capable man who can get the job done.
In Pony baseball, the chances seem to be better in favor of attempting
a steal, but again factors such as the runners ability to get a good jump and the catcher’s arm come into play.
In most situations, bunting a runner over early in the game just doesn’t make a lot of sense unless you are fairly sure it will
be a close game.
There is also something to be said for scoring the first run giving your team a psychological advantage. But before you bunt a man over consider who is coming up: are the chances favorable he can get
the job done with a base hit or fly ball, or is the hitter weak and bunting is probably the best option for him?
Even so, you’ve got to consider who is coming up after him whether they can
be counted on to get a hit or fly ball.
Here is one bunting strategy that works almost every time.
Runner on third, or runners on any other base. Less than two outs. The batter at the plate is an average or less hitter,
with weaker hitters coming up behind him….and you really want
to get a run in.
The batter bunts the ball down on the ground towards the third baseman. Have the runner on third follow the third baseman down the line, staying back from him 10 feet or so.
When the player throws to first for the out, you’ve got yourself an easy run. Do remember, if the shortstop is playing heads up ball and the third baseman is in the game, there may be an out at third, depends on how far the second base runner is advanced and how far the ball is bunted. But the chances of this happening are fairly slim, the odds are in the offenses favor.
There really are no hard and fast rules that are absolute, but the one thing I’m not in favor of early in the game is to
bunt a man over with decent hitters at the plate.
Even though everyone should be able to lay down a bunt if called upon, the better hitters in the lineup usually have little bunting experience in the game and so as a general rule are not really
that good at bunting simply because in most games in their past, they hit and didn’t have to bunt.
Remember what Earl Waver said: “If you play for one run, that’s usually all you’ll get.” Read more
Reading the pitcher
In this bunting strategy – recognize a pitcher’s weakness and exploit it for more bunt hits.
Bunting for a hit is an extremely valuable skill, and can even be the deciding factor in a close game when hits and runs are scarce.
Baseball players are creatures of habit!
Most people – and pitchers in particular – are creatures of habit. You can use this to your advantage.
How many times have you seen a ground ball hit back to the pitcher? He usually reacts in one of two ways: Take his time and make a nice throw to first base for the out, or secure the ball start running over to first base and give an underhand flip. As insignificant as this play seems it may tell us a few things about the pitcher and his mindset. This can be extremely important if you can and are willing to bunt.
Typically pitchers work on bunt plays where the baseball is bunted right back to them or towards third base where they can pick it up and throw it to first base. The whole thing becomes very instinctive and doesn’t require much thought or variation on the pitcher’s part.
So how can this help you out?
This can tell you if you should try to bunt against this particular pitcher.
(1) There’s a good chance you’ll be able to predict how he will handle that same scenario in the future
(2) You’ll have a clue as to what type of play is difficult for the pitcher (i.e. if this is a weakness for him) and then you can use this to your advantage.
Will he make a throw to first, or try to run and flip it?
Now lets go back to our pitcher and how he handles a throw to first base on a come backer.
If the pitcher throws the ball to 1st base, it’s a clue that he may be fairly athletic and feels comfortable in throwing a ball outside of his normal pitching motion. In this case, bunting may not be the best option.
However, if a pitcher runs it over towards first base and under hand flips it, there is probably a reason for that. It could be that he not confident in his throwing ability. Maybe he has thrown balls passed the first baseman in the past and now this is his go to move, or perhaps throwing to bases is something he doesn’t practice and doesn’t feel comfortable with. Either way, it can indicate a weakness you can take advantage of by bunting for a hit.
Taking advantage of the pitcher’s weakness
You can force the pitcher to make an athletic throw by laying a soft bunt down the first base line.
This is not a standard push bunt, you want to make sure it’s hard enough where the catcher can’t get it and the ONLY person that can make a play is the pitcher.
A pitcher who isn’t too confident in making an athletic throw will have difficulties with this play.
He has to get to the ball quickly, so his momentum not going in the direction of first base. Then he needs to make a throw to the first baseman without hitting the runner or throwing it into right field.
Since this isn’t a play that is practiced often, and it is a very difficult play, you will quickly tell how athletic the opposing pitcher is and if bunting may be a way for your team to scratch across a few runs.
The reason I picked this type of bunt strategy is because a bunt down the third base line is a play that happens so fast for the pitcher that he doesn’t have time to think about it. This tends to be an easier throw for him to make. Also, pitcher’s practice fielding this bunt often.
Of course, just because a pitcher runs and under hand flips a ball to first base on a come backer doesn’t guarantee that he is uncomfortable making an athletic throw. But paying attention and seeing this as a potential way to attack the pitcher may help you get to a pitcher that is tough to score runs against.
No More Easy Outs
Alfonso Soriano studied Willie Randolph, the Yankees’ third-base coach, as he touched his cap, his nose, his ear, his arm and his belt, and somewhere in Randolph’s rapid collection of movements was a sign for Soriano to bunt. This happened three different times while the Yankees played the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park last month. Each time, Soriano looked inept as he failed to produce a sacrifice.
When Soriano was reminded of his failures, he offered a facial expression that made it seem as if he had gulped salt water. Then Soriano added revealing words to his already revealing actions.
”Bunting?” Soriano said. ”No. Sometimes when they ask me to bunt, I bunt it straight to the pitcher. I’ll be really mad if I make an easy out. I’m not really comfortable bunting. If I could put it down the line, O.K. It’s very important, but I’d rather hit the ball.”
Soriano made his comments while sitting near his locker at Yankee Stadium, but the words could have been spoken by almost any position player in any major league clubhouse. For other than a small percentage of adept bunters, the ability to deaden a pitched ball with a bat while simultaneously placing it away from the charging opposition is not considered a critical talent. Remember, baseball stages a home run derby at the All-Star Game, not a bunting contest.
”It’s not a glorious or a glamorous thing,” Mets pitcher Tom Glavine said. ”Other than starting pitchers and a handful of leadoff guys, players don’t do it. It’s lost its prominence.”
Baseball’s evolution has included smaller parks, bigger players, livelier balls and thicker contracts, but not necessarily heftier paychecks for a player who can bunt for a hit or to advance a runner. And just as influential, there are statistically attuned executives who dispute the traditional notion that bunting builds rallies, and they have data to support their theories.
Those general managers, like Oakland’s Billy Beane, Toronto’s J. P. Ricciardi and Boston’s Theo Epstein, are the current equivalents of Earl Weaver, who despised using the bunt as manager of the Baltimore Orioles across 17 seasons. The general managers have statisticians who support their belief that they should resist it. Read more
Baltimore Orioles win their first game 3-2 over the Toronto Blue Jays in the 11th inning. Read more. Mark Trumbo hits first opening day walk-off home run in Orioles history. Trumbo picks up where he left off last season, as he led the majors in home runs with 47 in the regular season and he also added one in the wild card game. Speaking of which, it had to feel good for the Orioles to take down the Blue Jays in similar fashion to how the wild-card game ended. The Trumbo walk-off winner here was historic, as it was the first walk-off home run on opening day in Orioles history. It’s also the first in the majors since 2014, when Neil Walker, then of the Pirates, did so to the Cubs. Read more
Unfortunately, our Junior Orioles U12 Little League team lost our home opener vs. the Bearcats 5-4. However, we were not able to finish the game in 6 innings of regulation play on account of darkness (7:25 PM – approximately 85 minutes – 5 complete innings) and the umpire was concerned about safety. Who knows if we had another 30 minutes of daylight what would have happened? Read more. Also, if you recall the letter from an earlier blog by Mike Matheny, he said, “We will lose a lot of games”.
Blake and I stopped to get something to eat on the ride home and anxiously awaited the NCAA Championship game. It was no surprise that the game was decided in the last 60 seconds. North Carolina (1) prevailed over Gonzaga (1) 71-65. Roy Williams deserves a lot of credit! I really enjoyed watching the FINAL FOUR this year. In particular, I loved what South Carolina’s Frank Martin, Head Coach said in an interview,
“People keep score when you play games 35, 36, 37 times a year, and sometimes you win and sometimes you don’t. That score eventually goes away. When you impact people by the masses the way these kids have, that means you’re a winner as a human being and that’s what matters. When we get home and they realize what they’ve done in our community, their hearts will open up with joy because they’ll be so happy that the pain of losing a game eventually goes away.”
South Carolina lost to Gonzaga in the Final Four on Saturday, but Gamecocks head coach Frank Martin believes his players are still winners. In the press conference, he was asked what he has to say to the kids who are fans of the team. Martin took his time with his reply, while trying to hold back tears. Read more.
In addition, our Brewers Over 40 Baseball Team also lost 12-4 in our season opener vs. the Diamondbacks. However, the score was a lot worse after 9 innings than any of the previous games mentioned. Yet, the score was 0-0 after my first 3 innings of pitching on the mound.
Tonight’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) award goes to Richard McLeod. He received the game ball and starting Thursday we will start handing out the trophy below (similar to the “Stanley Cup“) for the kids to take home till the next game (please be GENTLE so it does not break). He sparked the bench in the 2nd inning with a standup triple and later scored our first run to put us on the board.