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Sparks Journey from Little League to College

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  • So many times a father gets obsessed with a son's observed athletic talent and it blinds him to the big picture. A friend of mine was watching his son's youth game with a professional baseball player. The proud father asked the pro what he thought of his son's ability. He wisely remarked that the boy was good for his age but sucked as a baseball player.

    While that may sound cruel at first, it needs to be recognized while good at any sport it is relative to others playing the game. Immaturity of the nervous system and smallness of the hands impede a player. Advances physical maturity for age beyond his peers gives the impression that he will always be ahead of the other kids. In reality they may well pass him up at some future date as they mature. There are many a little league stud that has faded from the game on the full sized diamond.

    What is the lesson to be learned? Enjoy your son's success at the moment and foster a love for the game and help him see the fun in what he is doing. Take one year at a time and remind yourself that it is his game for his enjoyment and learning. Enjoy it until it is over. He may prefer to play lacrosse or trumpet to baseball as he matures. Encourage him and enjoy that too.

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    • Originally posted by daque View Post
      So many times a father gets obsessed with a son's observed athletic talent and it blinds him to the big picture. A friend of mine was watching his son's youth game with a professional baseball player. The proud father asked the pro what he thought of his son's ability. He wisely remarked that the boy was good for his age but sucked as a baseball player.
      This is Bob Bigelow's (former NBA player/youth sports advocate) approach. It's true. Relative to the big picture pre high school kids suck.

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      • Originally posted by daque View Post
        So many times a father gets obsessed with a son's observed athletic talent and it blinds him to the big picture. A friend of mine was watching his son's youth game with a professional baseball player. The proud father asked the pro what he thought of his son's ability. He wisely remarked that the boy was good for his age but sucked as a baseball player.

        While that may sound cruel at first, it needs to be recognized while good at any sport it is relative to others playing the game. Immaturity of the nervous system and smallness of the hands impede a player. Advances physical maturity for age beyond his peers gives the impression that he will always be ahead of the other kids. In reality they may well pass him up at some future date as they mature. There are many a little league stud that has faded from the game on the full sized diamond.

        What is the lesson to be learned? Enjoy your son's success at the moment and foster a love for the game and help him see the fun in what he is doing. Take one year at a time and remind yourself that it is his game for his enjoyment and learning. Enjoy it until it is over. He may prefer to play lacrosse or trumpet to baseball as he matures. Encourage him and enjoy that too.
        I find that a cruel remark.

        I would never speak to a little league team that way. The point of the game is to build team work and to learn how to deal with failure.

        I believe a lot of MLB players suck as baseball players because they lost the true meaning of the game. It's now a big business with inflated salaries where any possible way to cheat to gain an edge is taken. There is no loyalty to one team since the highest bidder always wins.
        Last edited by tradosaurus; 02-16-2013, 09:05 PM.

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        • Originally posted by tradosaurus View Post

          I find that a cruel remark.

          I would never speak to a little league team that way. The point of the game is to build team work and to learn how to deal with failure.
          Maybe just a reality remark. Taken correctly it would, perhaps, act as a reality check. He did not speak to the team but to his friend. If you check the rule book, you will see that the point of the game is to win. It is not a socialogy exercise or a PC adventure of feel goods. The comment was made by a knowing player judging only the degree of baseball skills.

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          • Originally posted by tradosaurus

            I'm sure you thought your son sucked in high school?
            Actually, his son was a very gifted player and he himself played through college. He also coached youth ball. Your cheap remark is off base when folks are trying to learn and share their information.

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            • Daque,
              I suggest you read this thread from the start. The thread started 6+ years ago and brings us through many life-lessons. Sparks completely understands the what it is you are suggesting and based on what I know of him has a great perspective on what is in his boy's future.
              "He who dares to teach, must never cease to learn."
              - John Cotton Dana (1856–1929) - Offered to many by L. Olson - Iowa (Teacher)
              Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting.

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              • Originally posted by Jake Patterson View Post
                Daque,
                I suggest you read this thread from the start. The thread started 6+ years ago and brings us through many life-lessons. Sparks completely understands the what it is you are suggesting and based on what I know of him has a great perspective on what is in his boy's future.
                Jake: I have no interest in reading 52 pages of posts. Maybe you be specific in what you think I said that offended Sparks. I do not remember responding to him but may have. If I offended him, it was not my intent.

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                • Originally posted by daque View Post
                  Actually, his son was a very gifted player and he himself played through college. He also coached youth ball. Your cheap remark is off base when folks are trying to learn and share their information.
                  So pre-high school kids don't suck? That's my point. :gt

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                  • Originally posted by tradosaurus View Post
                    So pre-high school kids don't suck? That's my point. :gt
                    Let me simplify it. Forget the word suck which seems to have irritated you. Think of all baseball players from pro to tee ball in the same group. Assume that an 11 year old was trying to make the Yankees on an open tryout because he was the very best player in his league. His talent level would be very low compared to the needs of the Yankees. Therefore he would be rated 1027 out of 1097 tryout attendees. Overall, compared to all of the others he would be grossly inadequate to be considered. The only worse ones were the tee ballers.

                    Pre high school players do not suck compared to their peers but do suck compared to pro players. The point being that rating kids as to excellence prior to about age 16 is pretty meaningless.

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                    • Sparks, as always, a treat to hear about your boy and gratifying to hear that - after all the drama that the coach has put him through - he's getting some pretty prominent recognition. You can't do much better than starting C and opening day pitcher.

                      I think you're handling it right by taking a 'wait & see' approach. While this coach doesn't sound like he's all that sharp, he too has an investment in the youngster and may well take a fairly cautious approach to him. What you can bring to the table is a knowledge of his history and arm strength and issues, so that if you see warning signs of possible arm trouble based on past experience, you can address it. And you can see if his mechanics are slipping due to fatigue, which (as excellently noted) may lead to arm troubles. What may help a little is for him to pace himself as a catcher - e.g., throwing back to the pitcher at 70% velocity, say, rather than trying to show off his arm. And seeing if others can pick up some of the off-day and pre-game bullpen catching.

                      Listen to these guys when they say he's got a chance to play some college ball. Sure, if the kid is headed to UGA or Georgia Tech, that may be beyond his athletic means, and you've got to make that call. But there are lots of small colleges within a day's drive of you that may be willing to throw money at your kid and give him a chance to continue with baseball. Look into it now, as first semester grades are in so you should have an idea of where he'll qualify academically. Put together that video of his sucesses - even the JV football efforts, as that shows an athletically well-rounded kid, and put it on a private YouTube page accessible only to coaches to whom you give the link/URL, and start sending letters. And if the HS coach is thinking so highly of him, it's in his own interest to make some calls too - it would be pretty embarrassing for him if his opening day starter doesn't even get a sniff from colleges.
                      sigpicIt's not whether you fall -- everyone does -- but how you come out of the fall that counts.

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by daque View Post
                        Let me simplify it. Forget the word suck which seems to have irritated you. Think of all baseball players from pro to tee ball in the same group. Assume that an 11 year old was trying to make the Yankees on an open tryout because he was the very best player in his league. His talent level would be very low compared to the needs of the Yankees. Therefore he would be rated 1027 out of 1097 tryout attendees. Overall, compared to all of the others he would be grossly inadequate to be considered. The only worse ones were the tee ballers.

                        Pre high school players do not suck compared to their peers but do suck compared to pro players. The point being that rating kids as to excellence prior to about age 16 is pretty meaningless.
                        How often do you think parents compare their pre-16 y.o. to MLB players? That would be outlandish.

                        I know I have thoughts, as do most Dad's I'm sure, that my son may have the potential to one day play in the MLB.

                        Do I try to compare my 14 y.o. to Albert Pujols or Justin Verlander? I think I would be laughed out of the room.

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                        • I have explained it as clearly as I could. Daydreaming before the kid is 16 is meaningless.

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                          • Originally posted by daque View Post
                            I have explained it as clearly as I could. Daydreaming before the kid is 16 is meaningless.
                            Clear as in "Think of all baseball players from pro to tee ball in the same group."?

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                            • Ok guys... this thread has been about Sparks' journey... Please lets keep it at that. If you want to start another thread please feel free to do so.
                              Jake
                              "He who dares to teach, must never cease to learn."
                              - John Cotton Dana (1856–1929) - Offered to many by L. Olson - Iowa (Teacher)
                              Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting.

                              Comment


                              • Daque ... I was not offended by Trade. I consider the source. Do I think my son stunk before high school? If he couldn't make varsity until soph year he must have stunk relative to high school varsity ball. What he had ONCE he showed he could compete on the 60/90 field in seventh grade and 13U was potential. Before a kid makes the varsity all he has is potential. There are so many things that can get in the way of success on the baseball field. For some kids their focus turns in another direction whether it be a good choice or a bad one.

                                Going back to Biglelow's philosophy he asked what I thought of my son being named a region Hoop School top rated pointed guard at age ten. At ten my son figured he could play basketball and baseball in college. I have a friend who did in the SEC and made it to AAA. I laughed and said, "Someday I'm going to have to give my kid the bad news. He's going to grow up to be a 6'2" white guy." My son didn't even play high school basketball. He was cut soph year after being the freshman point guard because he was already playing two varsity sports and didn't have time to play in a summer basketball league and make optional off season workouts and practices. Everyone else on the basketball team was "basketball only" except for the 6'7" 220 power forward/tight end who is now playing D1 college football. Had my son played varsity basketball he would have been the only male, non track three sport athlete in the high school.

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