If They Don’t Win it’s a Shame…

The East Boise 70’s All Stars took Third Place at the State Championships. Not bad for a scrappy bunch of ball players that took on much better teams for most of the post season. They won seven games this year and that’s six more than last year!


Here’s Jack’s last at bat, a hard drive to third that was unfortunately for him, caught. Jack’s most memorable moment at State came on Friday afternoon when he drove a fast ball out of the park for a two run homer. The kid can hit way better than his old man ever did. I never hit a homer, but I once robbed a homer from a kid in right field. ;-)

Our 12 U 70’s team took Third Place at State and our 12 U 60’s All Stars took First Place. A pretty good showing for the EB boys. Here’s wishing the 60’s team good luck at the Cal Ripken Regionals at the end of the month in Centralia, Washington!



Spring Baseball

The Colorado Rockies (1-1) of the East Boise 70’s league take to Field 6 for pre-game warm ups. I really love the color and the spirit on display in this picture. The Rockies went on to win their second game of the season, 10-7 over the Los Angeles Angels. As you can tell from the position of the flag, it was some kind of windy. Gusting to 35 mph with temps in the low 50’s, left the parent fans in the new metal bleachers quite cold.

Two Rockies players hit three homers and one Angels player got his first homer in the game. All that with the wind blowing in!



Baseball Weekend Recap

My oldest son, Jack’s Outlaw team won their first game of the East Boise Classic tournament. They call them an Outlaw team because they are not the official league All Stars, just a bunch of kids who want to keep on playing ball in the summer. Before the second game of the day, during pre-game warmups he was in the wrong spot at the wrong time.

His assistant coach was hitting fly balls to his team mates in the outfield. Jack was in a group of kids waiting to catch. He was looking at the other team warming up when he noticed a team mate reacting to something. He turned up in time to just see a ball falling right on him. As he started to react by moving away from it, it nailed him in the lower right side of his nose. There was a loud pop and he went down as if he were shot.

I was in the stands and heard the pop and saw a kid go down, but didn’t realize who it was. It’s never your kid, right? Then I saw the coach bolt out of the dugout to aide and I knew it was serious. So I started onto the field to see if I could help. As I approached the crowd of kids I recognized Jack’s new shoes and then saw his jersey number. It was my kid.

He was facing down in the grass, bleeding pretty good and crying. It was very scary at first, until the coach did a few tests to make sure he was seeing straight and knew his name. Turns out his coach is an EMT, so he was reacting as he was trained.

We got some paper towels to stop the bleeding and an ice pack for the swelling. His mom had went to the car to fetch some chairs when she got back she learned he was hurt. We took him to the car and drove to a primary care office to have him looked at. Two hours later he had been looked at and X-rayed. He didn’t have a fracture or a broken nose. He lucked out.

His team went on to lose that day and were out of the tournament. But the East Boise All Star teams did pretty good. The Nine-year-olds won the title and so did the 12-year-olds. Laurie and I went back Sunday and watched some great baseball being played by the 10-year-olds and the Twelve’s.

Jack will be back on the field later this week.

Coaching 101 – Yelling During Games

Some counsel from Matt Williams
Photo Credit: Dru Bloomfield via Compfight

One of my pet peeves when I coach youth baseball is coaches that yell at their players during a game. I’m not talking about occasional encouragement or getting a kid’s attention so you can signal him directions, I’m talking about overt yelling after a bad play has happened.

We’ve all seen this at games. The pitch is overthrown to the backstop and the runner on first base bolts for second. The catcher gets the ball and rather than “eat it” and return the ball to the pitcher, he sends it to second base to get the runner. Of course the short stop misses the throw and the ball rolls into center field. Meanwhile the runner is now standing on third, or worse yet, on his way home.

This kind of a situation really makes a coach come unglued. It’s tempting to yell at your catcher for making a throw he shouldn’t have and then to yell at your shortstop for missing the throw. If the runner makes it home, or even if he makes it to third on the play, at least three kids are immediately feeling horrible about the play. The pitcher feels bad for throwing a pass ball, the catcher feels bad for making a late throw and the shortstop feels bad for missing an easy catch. If the runner scores, the whole team feels bad.

Hollering at them will not make them learn from their mistakes, but it will make them feel even worse than they already do. Resist the temptation to discipline on-field. The best thing you can say to them in general is to shake it off and get out of the inning. Runs can be made up when you’re back on offense. Wait until they are in the dugout and then gather the players in the corner and ask them what they did wrong. Explain to them what they should do next time and then pump them up with positive words of encouragement.

So much of baseball, like most group sports, is mental and emotional. If you let your players get down on themselves, they will find it hard to continue playing and then you have a team melt-down. My head coach and I make it a golden rule not to go off on the kids during a game. In fact, we do very little “coaching” on game day. That’s what practice is for. If we see the kids making repeated mistakes, we work on those plays during the next practice. The games are for the kids and practices are for the coaches.

It’s extremely difficult to watch your kids get burned by making bad plays. Competitive coaches sometimes take winning a bit too personal. We have to remember that the real reason we are playing a game is to teach the fundamentals and instill a respect for the game in the young players. We’re not out there to tear people down like angry drill instructors or to win the World Series. Keep your emotions in check.

My head coach usually takes third base when we’re up to bat. He’s the only one who talks to the batter directly. One of the other assistant coaches will take first and remain largely quiet. We will say encouragements when we feel the kid needs them, but we let the head coach do the adjustments like “Choke up on it,” or give the sign for bunt or not to swing. This lets the kid focus on his goal of hitting the ball.

I hope that I don’t need to reiterate here that yelling at umpires is also unprofessional. Even if the call was completely wrong, the Blue’s decision is final and arguing about it, especially loud enough for the kids and parents to hear is poor sportsmanship and sending  the wrong message. Our policy on this is basically the same thing we tell our kids. Don’t argue the call. If you think there’s a chance the field umpire had a better view, ask for them to discuss it. Other than that, let it be.

Believe it or not, I’ve also been in games where opposing coaches argue like school boys over calls or non-calls during the game. This is just childish and should never be allowed to happen. Again, who are we playing the game for the coaches egos or for the kids? If the coach is not going to be an adult, he or she needs to leave the game.



Field Day

legends stood here
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: sj carey via Compfight

Field Day. That annual event a week before Opening Day when all the parents and coaches huddle together on cold, wet ball fields and try to make them look good with rusty shovels in one hand and Starbucks cups in the other.

I’ve been attending this annual event every season now for six years at the local youth baseball fields. It seems like every year it’s cold and rainy and every year all the work comes down to about ten dads who really want the best for their kids. Oh it always starts out good, with lots of parents standing around waiting to be told what to do, but as the hours go by, only the truly loyal parents remain until noon.

Here’s to all the parents who actually put on their work gloves and get dirty on Field Day. The ball fields always look better after your efforts. Thank you!



Final Thoughts on Youth Baseball

The baseball season is almost over for my two sons and myself. This was the best year for me, as both an assistant coach and a dad. I was the official asst. coach for the Rookie league, Oregon State Beavers and got to help out quite a bit with the AAA Minor league Beavers.  How cool are their hats? Black with an orange OS. Okay, maybe it’s only cool for an Operating System savvy dad.

They don’t score the games in Rookie league, composed of 6-8 year old boys. The emphasis is on building fundamentals of the game and appreciation for our national pastime.  Our guys started out pretty rough but by the end of the season they all were doing very well for their age and abilities. At the start of the season, both coaches spent just about all of our time in the field on defense and by the last game, we were confident enough to stay at the dug out and just call out minor adjustments. That was very cool to see as a coach. Their hitting improved tremendously from the first few games to the last. Time spent in the batting cages helped as did individual attention during practices.

Coach Ken

We had to endure some typically foul Spring weather in East Boise this year. Everything from near freezing temps to rain, sleet and snow. But the kids gave their all and had a good time playing the game. Which is what we coaches wanted to have happen. The Rookie years will determine if a boy wants to go on and play baseball or try another sport. Hopefully the oldest kids on our team will continue on into the Minor leagues. The youngest kids on our team I hope to get back next year so we can carry on building on their fundamentals.

To our parents I’d like to say thank you for letting me coach your sons, they are champions one and all. I really appreciated the opportunity to teach them my favorite sport. I hope to see some of you back next Spring. Both coach John and myself will be with the Beavers again.

Beaver Bench and Amy Underwood

My oldest son was recruited into the AAA Minor league this year despite being at the lowest end of the age bracket. His coach talked us down a bit over our concerns he would be too immature to play with 10-12 year olds, him being only 9. Turned out he was able to play with the older kids just fine and earned a spot as second base for most of the season.

In AAA, the parents have to step up and do occasional duty as Home Plate Umpire and Field Umpires. I did my fair share of calling games and really had a good time with it. The parents of all the teams we played were good sports. Some of the opposing coaches had words, but nothing serious. I also got the chance to help out the coach with his practices and even to base coach a few games. He put me on third base coach so I could wave more kids home.  It was fun.

Field 4 East Boise

The AAA Beavers only managed to win 2 games this year, but that was an improvement over last year so my son was happy. ;-) The Beavers were really only blown out a couple times and kept most of their games pretty close.  There were two kids with little brothers on the Rookie Beavers and that was a first for us.