article by Keith Madison
Recently, I was in the Dominican Republic with a group of high school and college baseball players competing and serving with SCORE International. As we were traveling on our bus from the hotel I saw a group of young baseball players on a dusty field with rags for bases playing with tremendous energy, passion and a sense of freedom I haven’t seen in a while. Continue reading
Most high school baseball teams’ seasons are in the record books; travel baseball teams have issued equipment for summer competition; and tournaments at the college level are either complete or currently wrapping up.
Congratulations are in order for every athlete and coach who competed on a field and to every parent who endured called third strikes, extra inning games, freezing early season temperatures, dirty uniforms, rainouts and too many fast food restaurants. Even with multiple challenges, baseball continues to be the greatest game.
Let’s face it, baseball is an American sub-culture. We have our own unique uniforms, a very interesting diamond-shaped playing field and even our own language. Recently, I was watching a college game on television; while listening to the color commentator, I laughed out loud thinking about what a “non-baseball person” must think about some of the terms used to describe the action during the game. Have you ever listened to a professional baseball scout describe a player’s abilities? It’s comical to think about how a “civilian” may react to the baseball “lingo.” It’s a great game.
This spring, the baseball community said farewell to a wonderful coach and a great American, Bill Arce. Coach Arce was not only a successful coach and Athletic Director at Claremont, he was also a pioneer in promoting and teaching baseball internationally. He was an American Baseball Coaches Association Board Member, former ABCA President and a recipient of the Lefty Gomez Award. More importantly, Coach Arce was a World War ll combat veteran, fighting for our nation in the Battle of the Bulge. We will miss this compassionate man. Continue reading
A “tip of the hat” to Craig Keilitz and his staff for once again organizing the largest and finest baseball clinic in the world. The 2016 version of the American Baseball Coaches Association Convention will not only have an incredible lineup of speakers with well over 4,000 coaches in attendance, but there will also be dozens of committee meetings, board meetings, a phenomenal group of sporting goods exhibits and some first class social events. Behind the scenes, coaches will be sharing ideas, debating philosophies and talking baseball “until the cows come home!” Continue reading
To help get me through a tougher than usual winter and the long drought of “life without baseball” between the American Baseball Coaches Association Convention and college baseball season, my wife Sharon ordered some baseball documentaries-“When It Was A Game”- through Netflix.
While enjoying these classic DVD’s featuring strong, skilled baseball men wearing wool uniforms and playing the game with pride and enthusiasm, I tried to put my finger on what was so different about the baseball experience of today and way the players of “yesteryear” played the game. I noticed many differences. The stadiums were filled with men smoking cigars and wearing hats, suits and ties. The playing surfaces looked rough and the grass was stressed and worn (did ground crews exist in the 40’s?). The infielders actually left their gloves on the field at the end of the inning…they just tossed them out on the outfield after the third out!
Maybe it’s just me, but they looked like they had more fun. Many major league players were paid so poorly that they worked during the off season or went on “barn storming” tours around the nation playing “pick up” games in towns without a major league team; but yet, they had fun. They ran the bases as if their pants were on fire. The way they ran the bases reminds me of something I heard my mentor Ron Polk say many years ago, “Gentlemen, run the bases with reckless abandon under control.” Their hitting and pitching mechanics, in most cases, weren’t nearly as “pretty” as the modern player, but hitters seemed to hit for higher averages and pitchers logged many more innings than today’s players. They just seemed to be having so much dog gone fun! Continue reading
I’m thrilled to announce that Inside Pitch Magazine is now an official partner of the American Baseball Coaches Association!
My first experience with the ABCA was during my second year as a high school baseball coach at Lake Wales High School in Central Florida. The annual ABCA Clinic took place in Miami that January, but my principal said there was no money in the budget to attend. My friends at nearby Florida Southern College (head baseball coach Joe Arnold and his assistant Chuck Anderson) invited me to stay in their room and ride down with them. Little did I know that two other coaches (totaling five adult men) would stay in the same room! It was worth it. I met Ron Polk at the clinic and was offered a graduate assistant position at Mississippi State University for the following year. Two years later I would become the head baseball coach at the University of Kentucky! Continue reading