The Ripken Way

Cal Ripken Jr. acknowledges the crowd after officially breaking Lou Gehrig’s record.

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.

Introduction

Iron Man – 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. Watch Video

Teaching BaseballPrintable Lessons as well as Video Lessons (click # links 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

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. Lessons 00, 01, 02, 03, 04, 05, 06, 07, 08, 09, 10, 11

INFIELD

Infield defense can be broken down into two parts: catching and throwing. It’s as simple as that. If we don’t catch the ground ball, we certainly can’t throw it. If you take that concept to its extreme form, a double play is five simple parts: a catch, a throw, a catch, a throw and a catch. Lessons 00, 01, 02, 03, 04, 05, 06, 07, 08, 09, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14

OUTFIELD

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. Lessons 00, 01, 02, 03, 04, 05, 06, 07, 08, 10, 11, 12

PITCHING

As a pitching coach or an instructor, you do most of your work from behind the mound watching pitchers throw. There is a certain progression to use when you are observing pitchers. The first thing to do, especially when watching pitchers for the first time, is to just observe. Resist the urge to discuss any theories or any expectations. Just give them the ball and let them throw for 10 minutes. When watching pitchers throw for the first time, it’s important to look for three things, and one of them isn’t mechanics. Don’t really concentrate on mechanics as one of the first things. Lessons 00, 00b, 01, 02, 03, 04, 05, 06, 07, 08, 09, 10

LIGHT BULBS

Lessons 00, 01, 02

Lost Art of Bunting

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.

  1. Is it a close game
  2. Is it late in the game
  3. Can the runner steal second instead of being bunted over
  4. How well can the hitter bunt
  5. 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
third.

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

 

Robinson Canó

robinson_canoe_doubleplay

Robinson José Canó Mercedes (Spanish pronunciation: [kaˈno]; born October 22, 1982), often shortened to Robbie Cano, is a Dominican-American professional baseball second baseman for the Seattle Mariners of Major League Baseball. He made his MLB debut with the New York Yankees in 2005 and played for them through 2013.

Canoe is my favorite 2nd baseman I have ever watched LIVE.  I had the privilege to watch him play @ Camden Yards when the Yankees came to town to face the Baltimore Orioles.  It was like poetry watching him turn a double play. He is worth every penny of his $240,000,000 contract!!!

Canó is a seven-time All-Star (2006, 2010–2014, 2016) and five-time Silver Slugger Award winner (2006, 2010–2013). He won two Gold Glove Awards (2010, 2012) and has been named American League Player of the Month twice (September 2006, April 2010). In 2011, Canó won the Home Run Derby. He was a member of the Yankees’ 2009 World Series championship team over the Philadelphia Phillies and also the Dominican Republic’s 2013 World Baseball Classic championship team, for which he won the tournament’s most valuable player award.

In my humble opinion, there are only a handful of players in the Major Leagues that can make this play look so smooth => Whirly Bird.  Listen to the announcers.  I can’t stop watching it over and over.  It puts me in a great mood!  Moreover, notice how Chris  Taylor receives the ball long before Albert Pujols, base runner gets to 2nd.  In fact, he gives up and stops running. Oh, ball hit to Canoe. Yikes. Routine out!

Family and early life
His father, José Canó, signed with the New York Yankees as an amateur free agent in 1980 and pitched in the Yankees’ and Atlanta Braves minor league systems before making his Major League debut and pitching six games for the Houston Astros in 1989. Robinson was named after baseball legend Jackie Robinson.

Playing career
Minor leagues
After graduating from high school, Canó was signed by the Yankees in 2001 as an amateur free agent, receiving a signing bonus of over $100,000. He began playing in their minor league system that season, debuting with the Gulf Coast Yankees of the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League and the Staten Island Yankees of the Class-A Short Season New York–Penn League. Canó was one of the five prospects offered to the Texas Rangers to complete the Yankees’ acquisition of Alex Rodriguez before the 2004 season. The Rangers selected Joaquín Árias instead.

New York Yankees
2005
Canó was called up to the Major Leagues on May 3, 2005, while hitting .330 in 108 at bats with Columbus, and took over second base from Tony Womack. Canó belted his first career grand slam this season as well. He finished second in American League Rookie of the Year balloting to Huston Street of the Oakland Athletics.

2009: World Series Championship

Canó in the field
In 2009, Canó hit .320 with 204 hits, 25 home runs and 85 RBIs. Canó ranked in the top ten among players in the American league in hits, extra base hits, total bases, at bats, doubles, batting average, runs scored, and triples. It was his first year hitting over 20 HRs. His 200th hit against the Boston Red Sox to clinch the AL East Division made him and Derek Jeter the first middle infield duo in MLB history to both have 200 hits in the same season.

2010: All-Star and Gold Glove season
With the departure of Hideki Matsui, Canó was moved into the fifth spot in the batting order. For his early season performance, Canó was named the American League Player of the Month for April 2010. He was elected as the starting second baseman in the 2010 Major League Baseball All-Star Game and was selected to participate in the 2010 Home Run Derby; however, he withdrew due to a minor injury. He finished the season with a milestone 200 hits and 100+ RBIs (109).

Canó hit .343 with 4 home runs and 6 RBIs in the 2010 postseason. He finished the season with a .996 fielding percentage, the best for a second baseman in MLB, committing only 3 errors in 158 games. He turned 114 double plays and recorded 341 putouts. Canó won the American League Gold Glove Award for second basemen in 2010, the first by a Yankee second baseman since Bobby Richardson’s five-year run from 1961 to 1965.

Read more

 

Sportsmanship

MVP

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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

Positive Reinforcement

IMG_4696August, 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

Major_League_Baseball_LogoAt 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:

  • Sportsmanship
  • Teamwork
  • Effort
  • Positive Attitude
  • Proper Manners
  • Enthusiasm
  • Fair play

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).

positionsRPBL 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

Orioles_InfieldSince 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


 

Victory and Defeat

Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat

I will never forget this commercial growing up => ABC Wide World of Sports featuring Howard Cosell and Muhammad Ali.

ABC’s Wide World of Sports is an American sports anthology television program that aired on the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) from April 29, 1961 to January 3, 1998, primarily on Saturday afternoons. Hosted by Jim McKay, with a succession of co-hosts beginning in 1987, the title continued to be used for laurel_wreathgeneral sports programs on the network until 2006. In 2007, Wide World of Sports was named by Time Magazine on its list of the 100 best television programs of all-time. Read more

A laurel wreath is a circular wreath made of interlocking branches and leaves.  In ancient Greece wreaths were awarded to victors, both in athletic competitions, including the ancient Olympics.

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  Read Sportsmanship

 


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Always like a Girl

I would be remiss if I did not include some stories about my daughter.  She is turning 12 next month and I’m so proud of all her accomplishments.  In particular, she has done exceptionally well in school and extracurricular activities like Piano, Dance and Theater.

When it comes to sports, there tends to be a big “misperception”.  My wife found this video and it brings tears to my eyes every time I watch it.

Chelsea is an excellent runner and swimmer.  This is her 7th year playing soccer and continues to excel with great success.  This spring she is playing lacrosse (2nd year) for the Roland Park Middle School “B” Lacrosse coached by Sarah Layng and Kelsy Mugele.  Read more

Personally, I played baseball my whole life so I was not familiar with some of the skills she needed to develop.  Thankfully, her coach suggested the following sites that has proved to be very helpful from the Denver, Colorado Women’s Lacrosse Team:

Professional Sports

Be the Best

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 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 Ryan, 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.

Wagners

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

Johnny’s

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.

Yankee Rebels
The Yankee Rebels, under 19 team beat Putty Hill in the Baltimore Metro League, May 27, 2008

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.