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Sparks Journey from Little League to College

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  • Pitching 6 innings in one game? That's a little too much for a 12 years old.:disbelief:

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    • Sparks -- good to here from you. Glad to hear your boy got past his broken finger. I hope the "bad team" issue ends soon and he gets to play this summer with teammates who are at his skill level.

      As to coaches who do this -- "My boy saw one of the kids on the other team at school and he said his coach told him not to throw my boy any strikes. I guess you can't blame the coach....that's just good coaching I reckon." That's garbage. This is recreation ball, right? What does it say if you've got a good team to tell your pitchers -- "pick on the rookie players because we don't trust you with the stud on their team"? And it sounds like a pretty poorly run league that would allow one team to stock up on 12 year olds and leave another with inexperienced dregs.

      Keep us posted. Hope it's a great summer.

      Ursa
      sigpicIt's not whether you fall -- everyone does -- but how you come out of the fall that counts.

      Comment


      • Ursa

        Ursa,

        Yeah, I think it's sad also. There are 7 teams in our rec ball league (Cal Ripkin). Two of the teams are really stacked and one of the teams has all 12 year olds. The team my boy is on only has one twelve year old (him) and three of the players were ten and hadn't even turned 11 yet when the season started.

        Oh well, what do you do? I know they had a draft and someone explained to me how these two teams were able to stack their teams but I don't remember how they did it. I know one of the coaches on the good teams tried to get my boy in the draft but there was a bidding war on him. In the end my boy's current coach just told the other coaches that they weren't getting my boy because he was going to bid what ever it took to get him. I must say here that my boy's coach has been his coach before and we are good friends with him and we really wanted my boy to play for him. The coaches son and my boy are very good friends as well.

        I will say this, it looks like this league has some very very good players, probably the best rec players I've seen. We have a good chance of having a pretty good all-star team. I don't know how they pick all-stars in this league but if it isn't all political then my boy has a good chance of making the team. It would be really great if he is on a good all-star team that has a chance of winning. I talked with my boy about this and I told him to continue to play hard to make a name for himself and increase his chance of making the all-star team. So even though his team is losing he can play the best he can play to help insure himself of getting selected for what I think might be a good all-star team.

        I agree with you about pitching to kids. My boy played a game against a player that everyone talks about and many think he's the best player around here. I told my boy this was a chance to prove himself against this kid. I told him to go after him and challenge him. The boy batted against my boy three times in the game. HIs first at bat he got a hit, the second at bat my boy struck him out and get this.....the third at bat the kid tried to bunt his way on base with 2 outs and no one on base. So I think my boy did great against one of the better players in our area. My point is this....why would you want a kid to walk a good player? Seems to me this is a good chance to see what your made of and to challenge yourself. What do you teach a kid if you tell him to walk the good players and get out the bad players? Seems to me your telling him that he isn't good enough to go after the good players.

        Oh well, we are having fun and my boy is enjoying the season. Who knows, maybe our team will win a game or two before the season ends.

        Sparks

        Comment


        • 2 things are just plain crap

          1. the teams should be divided evenly or at least a fair draft

          2. They should be pitching to your son. NOt like they had a chance at losing

          Comment


          • Fair

            Originally posted by hawkiirock View Post
            2 things are just plain crap

            1. the teams should be divided evenly or at least a fair draft

            2. They should be pitching to your son. NOt like they had a chance at losing

            I know one thing they did that I thought was just simply insane. During the draft the coaches son came up....now everyone know's your kid is going to be on your team. Well a couple of the teams bid real real real high first bid for "OUR" coaches son. What do you do? I mean the coach isn't going to let his child play for another team. Anyway, that's about all I know about the draft... I wasn't there but the coach told me that happened. He said by the time they bid on his son and my boy they were just about out of points.

            I think the draft is meant to be fair but just like everything in life people take advantage of it. I can't for the life of me see why a coach has to bid points for his own son to play.

            Sparks

            Comment


            • I know one thing they did that I thought was just simply insane. During the draft the coaches son came up....now everyone know's your kid is going to be on your team. Well a couple of the teams bid real real real high first bid for "OUR" coaches son. What do you do? I mean the coach isn't going to let his child play for another team. Anyway, that's about all I know about the draft... I wasn't there but the coach told me that happened. He said by the time they bid on his son and my boy they were just about out of points.
              I can't imagine a more idiotic system. In our league, each coach gets his son, period. However, there is an on field "evaluation" where kids hit, throw, field, etc., and everyone knows the kids anyway. The coaches cumulatively give a 1-15 number to each kid, and the division president makes sure there's no monkey business. The worst team the previous year goes first unless the number allocated to the manager's son is so high that the the points available to the next team are higher, than it picks, and so on. So, the amount of the bid is pre-determined for each player. In your situation, it sounds like the other managers acted as "shills" (it's a gambling term for house-supported players who sit at a gaming table to run up bids) to screw your team, and I'm guessing that they conspired to not compete for (and thus bid up the price on) players who later were available. And making a manager bid to the sky for his own kid is horrible! What is the Dad supposed to do -- come home and tell the family, "I'm sorry that I'm not coaching Sparky Jr. this year, because, as much as I love him, the little Johnson kid has more hop on his fastball"???

              Any league president who would let that crap go in is a drunk or a fool.
              sigpicIt's not whether you fall -- everyone does -- but how you come out of the fall that counts.

              Comment


              • Ursa,

                Good to see you posting again.

                Like I said, I wasn't at the draft and I don't know how everything panned out. Our coach told me the story about the other coaches bidding high on his son. Either way, it is what it is and nothing you can do about it now. I've learned that in our league they have a championship team every year. At the end of the year they have some kind of play off to and crown a winning team. I can say this....no way our team has a chance....lol. You would really have to see our team to see how bad it is....poor boy's is almost funny.
                So far this year my boy is 3 for 6 batting with several walks and he has 4 RBI (remember he had a broken finger for the first few games and couldn't play). So he is doing pretty good although he isn't hitting the ball as hard as he normally does. But he is doing well and a few of the other kids are getting better also.

                Right now we are just hoping he continues to play well and makes the all-star team. There are some very good players so he's going to have to play well to make the team.

                How is your son doing?

                Sparks

                Comment


                • 5/27/08

                  Believe it or not our little team (rec team) has won two games in a roll. If you would have told me we would've won one game all year I would have said you are nuts. (We've won three now).

                  In the last game we won 11 to 1. I think every kid on our team had a hit. During the game one of the coaches of another team came over and talked to us. His team is one of the two teams I've talked about that are stacked and are the best teams in the league. BTW: We beat them the other night 3 to 1. Anyway, he was telling us that my boy is one of the best players he's seen come through our area in a long team. He said his team is a very good hitting team but they just couldn't do anything with my boy pitching. My boy struck out 10 and walked two against his team (he also hit two batters).

                  So far this year my boy has pitched 18 innings and has struck out 31 batters. He's also given up 8 runs in 18 innings (most unearned). So his pitching is doing very well. His hitting is doing pretty good..I've been keeping up with his batting average and he's hitting .600 with several walks and the big thing is he hasn't struck out a single time at bat so far this year. His batting average is a little deceiving because of the official at bats he's gotten. He's gotten 6 hits on 10 official at bats. Two triples one double and the rest singles. Most of the pitchers are just walking him and he's lucky if he get's two at bats a game.

                  The main thing is he still loves the game. He works very hard (VERY HARD) and doesn't just go to play. He practices almost every day in the backyard. I'm proud of the fact that he works so hard.

                  Sparks

                  Comment


                  • Sparks, working hard is what it is about. My 10 year old son is in a similar situation as far as playing on a bad team. A couple of weeks ago, I blew my top and threatened to call it a season for him. He was playing lazily. I told his coaches that he was getting punished for blowing off some homework and sat him out a game. I'm not exactly what you'd call politically correct, so pardon if it offends anyone, but I ran the kid until I got tired of watching him puke.

                    He's had a miserable season to the point it has effected his school work too. He got passed over in the draft for Majors and has really let it get to him. Most kids don't make Majors until age 11, but his friends are 11 and 12 because his birthday is in September and he's already skipped one grade (TandG). Still there's a couple of them that haven't let him forget that he didn't make Majors. One of the kids played on his team last season and used to tell him "you don't have to throw the ball so hard." But, leading the league in doubles and being a dominant pitcher (expected to make Majors that year as well) is obviously less important than if your dad donated money to upgrade the dugouts. Actually, I do not know why he didn't make Majors. He's a very popular kid and talks a lot with many of the Majors coaches, and even practices with their teams.

                    We play everyday. We have to. He's not exactly the squeaky wheel in practice, so he doesn't get to hit much and never gets any pitching work in. The coaches spend the time with kids that need more improvement. He started playing on 90' diamonds when he was 6. I clocked him at 50 a year and a half ago in a fall league game against kids that were league age 12, but most had already turned 13. He broke his hand that year too, but continued to go to all the games (in uniform) and practices. That was back when he loved to play.

                    He hates Little League now. This is the kid that used to have his complete uniform neatly laid out on his bed at all times. He even began to hate it last year and looked forward to "real baseball" this year. As a pitcher this season, he's given up a total of 2 runs in 7 games. I couldn't really tell you his exact stat line, but in his last 3 pitching appearances, he's gone 8.2 innings, 1 Hit, 1 Run, 5 Walks, 22 Strikeouts. He had a string of 15 consecutive stikeouts. That believe it or not isn't fun for him and it sure isn't fun for the kids he's facing. He throws sidearm and most kids get very nervous in the box thinking they might get hit.

                    Lately though I've seen real maturity from him that I'm so proud of. He's become like another coach and gone from a bad attitude, chip on his shoulder, cancer on his team to a real asset to his teammates. His teammates love him. When he left the game as the starter in his last game they started clapping, waving their arms to get the crowd to applaud, and bowing. They mobbed him on the mound when he saved a game by striking out the side in the last two innings of another game they held on to win (he even smiled). He's always been one of the younger kids in sports and in school, so I guess it has taken him awhile to adjust to this role.
                    There are two kinds of losers.....Those that don't do what they are told, and those that do only what they are told.

                    Comment


                    • thats kind of how my dad was. He wanted me to play like Pete Rose...I was the only player on my teams that ran on and off the field and would run to first on a walk.

                      I once made a mental mistake in the OF, I held onto the ball too long, and after the game I was chewed out and told that my father was embarrassed to be my father at that point.

                      That is just an example of what I went through. Needless to say I got tired of the constant crap I took. Now I still am bothered by it, but the silver lining in all of it was that my dad held me to a higher standard because he thought I was better than the other players. Still, the berating did not help.

                      That being said, reading these entries about Little League I think I have a little trouble understanding these ultra-competitive little leagues. are most of you guys located in warmer climates? I ask this because your seasons seem very long. In Michigan the seasons are quite short, and I don't recall any traveling teams until later years.
                      "Batting stats and pitching stats do not indicate the quality of play, merely which part of that struggle is dominant at the moment."

                      -Bill James

                      Comment


                      • Location, Location, Location!!!!

                        I own a radar, and yes I clocked my son who just turned 9, 5 mths ago.

                        He is a skinny kid at 4'7" 62lbs, and throws 48 on average.

                        What makes him special in the league as the only 9 year old in AAA, is he can throw right to the glove. He throws low and outside, and pitches according to the count and has a 40 mph changeup (this is the best for a radar is looking at that changeup). Most LLs want to pull the ball, so they have a hard time making contact or making good contact. Everyone laughed at first because he throws slow compared to the 11 and 12s, but they laugh no more.

                        It's more than throwing strikes. Just stress proper mechanics and make sure he is having fun so he wants to continue to play and grow as a ballplayer.

                        Comment


                        • Life

                          I wanted to share something with all of you tonight.

                          My boy played another game tonight and he did his usual good job.
                          What I wanted to share with all of you is this...

                          As I sat there and watched him playing, a peace came over me. I made sure to look around at all the other parents and I looked over at my wife. I realized what a joy it was to watch my boy play this game that I love so much. It's an even greater joy to see him play it so well.

                          As I watched him strike out the last batter to win the game I didn't stand and cheer like I normally do. I just sat and soaked in the moment.

                          I knew at that very moment that I am the luckiest man alive. I cannot imagine being more happy than I am when I watch him play.

                          We all have problems and Lord knows I have more than most. But to see what my boy has gone through and to do as well as he has done boggles my mind.

                          I don't know what life has in store for me or my little boy. Other kids may grow bigger stronger and faster but right now he is one of the top 3 players in our area. He will probably never be better than he is right now. Other kids will catch up to him eventually and probably sooner rather than later. But I do know this.....I have been given one of the greatest gifts any grandparent can have....everything else is just a bonus.

                          Sparks

                          Comment


                          • Good and Bad

                            First the good news:

                            Today we got the phone call that my boy made the All Star team. We are very proud of the work he's put in and he deserves it. I would also like to say that out of the seven teams in our league there are a lot of very good players and to make this all star team wasn't easy. I'm very proud of him and excited.

                            The bad news: As you all know he broke his finger a couple months back so this past weekend we played in our first travel ball tournament. My boy pitched as good as I've ever seen him pitch. I kid you not, he was hitting the corners at 62 mph and 61 mph. THEY HIT EVERYTHING HE PITCHED. The harder he threw the further they hit the ball. They teed off on his change up and everything. It was amazing to see the hitters that we saw in this tournament.....shock is a better word. After giving up several runs and solid hits my boy walked off the field and had a great attitude about it. A couple of years ago he would have cried or gotten mad but he just shook his head and looked at me. Between innings he walked over where I was sitting and said "What do you do? I'm hitting the fastball on the corners and they're hitting everything I throw". I just looked at him and said I don't know. All I could tell him was to just keep throwing strikes and try to hit his spots.

                            All I know to do is just put this past tournament behind us. I don't think my boy had an off day....he was pitching pretty good....they were just hitting him.

                            Sparks

                            Comment


                            • Originally posted by Sparksdale View Post
                              I wanted to share something with all of you tonight.

                              My boy played another game tonight and he did his usual good job.
                              What I wanted to share with all of you is this...

                              As I sat there and watched him playing, a peace came over me. I made sure to look around at all the other parents and I looked over at my wife. I realized what a joy it was to watch my boy play this game that I love so much. It's an even greater joy to see him play it so well.

                              As I watched him strike out the last batter to win the game I didn't stand and cheer like I normally do. I just sat and soaked in the moment.

                              I knew at that very moment that I am the luckiest man alive. I cannot imagine being more happy than I am when I watch him play.

                              We all have problems and Lord knows I have more than most. But to see what my boy has gone through and to do as well as he has done boggles my mind.

                              I don't know what life has in store for me or my little boy. Other kids may grow bigger stronger and faster but right now he is one of the top 3 players in our area. He will probably never be better than he is right now. Other kids will catch up to him eventually and probably sooner rather than later. But I do know this.....I have been given one of the greatest gifts any grandparent can have....everything else is just a bonus.

                              Sparks
                              Sparks,

                              I can tell you that you never know what the future will hold, but to enjoy it while you can, they do grow up faster then we can ever imagine.

                              Here is a letter I wrote to a parent of the player of my son's High School team (and emailed it to all of the parents) just before his final game of the season last year. I thought it would be his final, but with his tenacity and hard work, he continues to amaze me by playing at the college level this year.

                              Here's the letter:

                              Betty,

                              Thank you for your time and energy in doing all of the leg work required in starting the snack bar program. It is great to see the baseball program at WHS finally getting the attention it has so deserved and it will only get better as the Booster program grows and the players begin receiving the equipment and facilities that has been too long overlooked by the district.

                              As I sit here, I am writing this with a lump in my throat, knowing that today will be Jxxxxx's last high school game and thinking back about the MANY wonderful people we have met through our Wxxxxx baseball experience.

                              We have been blessed as a family to have watched so many small boys grow into fine young men, having been fortunate enough to have experienced the different trials and tribulations of these ball players and we could not have shared them with a greater bunch of "baseball moms and dads".

                              To the parents of the graduating Seniors, thank you for sharing the many years of early mornings at the park, rushing home for weekday practices, snack stand lunch and dinners, all-stars games around the southland, soiled uniforms, broken glove laces, hitting lessons, pitching lessons, field crews, team moms, pizza parties, and for that shelf in the den with all of the trophies collecting dust (that who knows what we'll ever do with them all); it's hard to imagine that those 9 & 10 year-old little leaguers are soon to be college bound adults. WOW!

                              For the parents of the underclassmen, please enjoy with your boys, the remaining years they have in the WHS baseball program. If you can, take the time off from work; do not miss the moment when your son makes that great play or gets that one big hit... these are moments and memories you will cherish forever. Vin Scully once said "It's a mere moment in a man's life between the All-Star Game and an old timer's game." and I can tell you, a son's high school career is but a mere blink of an eye; don't miss any of it.

                              Thank you to the coaches at WHS for giving Jxxxxx the opportunity to experience baseball without his dad in the coach's box. Coaches Xxxx (Varsity), Xxxxx (JV), Xxxxxx (Freshman), Xxxxxxxxxx (Legion), you have taught Jxxxxx the finer points of baseball, something that with a little luck and a lot of hard work, will hopefully carry him on to the next level. "Kids are always chasing rainbows, but baseball is a world where you can catch them." - Johnny Vander Meer - - - - Thanks to you, Jxxxxx can say he has already caught many of his.

                              Thanks to all,
                              Dxxx


                              Names removed to keep so anonimity here on the Worldwide Web.

                              Sparks, keep standing and cheering whenever you can, there's no better feeling in the world.

                              All the best,
                              MV9
                              In memory of "Catchingcoach" - Dave Weaver: February 28, 1955 - June 17, 2011

                              Comment


                              • Outside Pitches

                                Need a tip from some of you...

                                This past weekend we played in another tournament. The pitchers were some of the better pitchers my boy has faced (not great pitchers just better than rec ball pitchers). It seems the pitchers were painting the outside corner on my boy and for some reason he can't seem to hit a pitch on the outside corner. This past tournament was the worst he's ever hit...not a single hit and several strike outs. One thing my boy has always done is NEVER STRIKE OUT.

                                He would take every pitch on the outside corner and not even try to swing. I was sitting behind homeplate and the umpire was calling a good strike zone. Even if the pitch was off the plate a little it was way too close to take. My boy would just watch them go by and never try to swing.

                                I talked with him and he just flat out told me he can't hit those pitches so he isn't going to try.

                                I don't know what you do when a child tells you that? His travel ball team is very bad....saying they are bad is being kind. Example, our third baseman made 8 errors in one inning the other night in a game. I think my boy's confidence is just shot because he's on such a bad team. I've talked with my wife and we're seriously thinking of taking him off this team. I hoped he would help the team be better but it just isn't happening. Now I'm concerned with his confidence.

                                Either way, he's on the All Star team in our Cal Ripkin league and practice starts this week. We've decided to put all our efforts on the All Star and let the travel ball go for now. Maybe when All Star is over we will look at the travel team again.

                                Anyway, if any of you have any tips about getting a 12 year old to hit the pitches on the outside corner then I'm all ears. I'll tell you this, it's not in his mechanics...it's all mental right now. His swing is as good as it's ever been...as a matter of fact he finished the season in Cal Ripkin hitting over
                                .650. I think this is the first slump he's ever been in and he's not sure what to do. He's getting older now and he's not going to hit .500 or .600 anymore. He's going to have to learn to hit better pitchers.

                                Sparks

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