Those who believe in the cultural and life values that youth sports teach know that youth baseball in particular embodies those timeless values first and foremost. Baseball’s contribution to society has stood the test of time since Alexander Cartright and a group of Team Knickerbocker contemporaries developed the first set of codified rules in 1845.a
The words of movie character Terence Mann in Field of Dreams probably say it best…
The one constant through all the year, Ray, has been baseball.
American has rolled by like an army of steamrollers.
It’s been erased, rebuilt and erased again.
But baseball has marked the time.
This field, this game is a part of our past.
It reminds us of all that once was good and could be again.
Universal Studios, 1989
No one understood these words or the concepts underlying them better than Louis ‘Coach’ Presutti, founder of Cooperstown Dreams Park (CDP). Beyond that,… Continue reading
The New York Yankees retired the number of Derek Jeter in a heart-warming ceremony on May 14. Jeter wore the number two on the back of his jersey during his 20 major league seasons from 1995 to 2014.
With number two off the market for the Yankees, there is no single digit number remaining for any future Bronx Bombers—unless of course you count the number zero.
Zero is personified as a rarity in Major League Baseball, both on and off the field. There’s always an air of anticipation when a no-hitter or a shutout is in progress. Fans want to see history made, whether it’s a star pitcher going for a shutout or a rookie wonder attempting to pitch a perfect game.
Since numbers were formally introduced on the back of all team jerseys in 1929, there have been just 18 players in Major League history to wear the number zero—and none of them have been Yankees. That’s a small amount. For comparison’s sake, there have been 553 players to wear the number five. In fact, 598 different players have worn the number three.
The first player to regularly wear number zero was Al… Continue reading
Editor’s Note: LIB reprises the following article about Bruno Franco, who passed away recently. Bruno served youth baseball all his life and he inspired the formation and growth both of sandlot baseball throughout the five boroughs of New York as well as of the Bronx Umpires Alliance. He was and always will be one of the most beloved icons of youth baseball and the games’ umpires in the tri-state area and beyond. LIB is among the many sports organizations and sports people who were honored to know Bruno and to be guided by his gentle hand and loyal spirit.
When Bruno Franco, President of the Westchester Baseball Association, speaks about youth baseball, you can believe every word he says. For the past half century he has watched how the landscape and attitudes that define youth baseball have transformed a serene, national pastime into a callous, national industry. He despairs most about how youth travel teams have brought a 21st century focus on in-your-face, profits-motivated competition to what used to be a widely held enchantment with peaceful, fun days at the ballpark.
Mr. Franco is not a happy man.
In addition to his efforts on behalf of kids and baseball… Continue reading
Don DeMola is a former pitcher for the Montreal Expos in the mid 1970’s. He was drafted by the Yankees in the seventh round of the 1970 Amateur Draft out of South High School in Commack, New York.
“I was 18 years old when the Yankees invited me to Spring Training in 1971,” he said. Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, Thurman Munson and Bobby Murcer were there. I felt like I was in heaven!”
DeMola signed as a free agent with the Montreal Expos in January of 1973. The New York native referenced former 20-game winner, Mike Torrez as a mentor. Torrez was pitching for the Expos at the time of DeMola’s signing.
DeMola pitched one season in the minors before making his major league debut. He appeared in 25 games in 1974, 24 of which came in relief. The hard throwing righty went 1-0 and posted a 3.12 ERA, striking out 47 batters in 57.2 innings.
“Montreal is a great city and they really loved their Expos,” said DeMola. “They’re very passionate people and I enjoyed my time there very much. I hope they do get another team.”
The Expos reliever pitched two seasons in the major leagues. He owns… Continue reading
An indomitable spirit has no boundaries and knows no limits. We are blessed to know one, and we stand in awe to see one. Although one emerges only so often, amazement and heart pounding expectation always define the moment each time it does.
Witness the courage of a Kerri Strug, who executed a winning Olympic vault despite a hobbling ankle sprain. Watch the fortitude of an injured Willis Reed as he inspired his New York Knicks to victory against the mighty Los Angeles Lakers. Recall the unrelenting passion of a Jimmy Valvano who, while battling cancer, exhorted all who heard his famous ESPY speech to “Don’t give up, don’t ever give up.”
We do not often have the privilege to witness courage of the moment, courage on display. When we do we remember it forever. Jimmy Valvano reminded us, though, that we all have the capacity for courage. Whatever sports we play, whatever paths in life we choose, whatever challenges we face, each of us has within us the power to rise to meet head-on whatever confronts us.
Win or lose, we do not have to lose heart. Win or lose, we should… Continue reading
Boston College ace, Justin Dunn is latest player drafted to hail from Long Island. He was ranked as one of the top pitchers in the nation when the New York Mets drafted him as the 19th overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft.
Dunn, 20, began his baseball journey in Freeport, Long Island as a six-year-old before playing competitively at the age of eight. He stated that he’s thrilled to see his big league aspirations coming to fruition.
“It’s awesome,” Dunn said. “It’s awesome to see that all the hard work, late nights, and training sessions are paying off.”
Dunn was drafted in the 2013 MLB First-Year Players Draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 37th round. He chose to attend Boston College instead, stating that he wasn’t quite ready to play for a big league organization.
“Major League Baseball is a grind,” Dunn said. “At the time, physically and mentally I wasn’t ready for this.”
Dunn and BC Eagles have enjoyed a historical season for their program in 2016, advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in seven years and advancing to the Super Regionals… Continue reading
When opportunity comes knocking at your door, you have to be willing to step up and answer that calling. Brooklyn native Daniel Corona has answered his calling and then some. How many kids can say they got to close out a World Cup game for USA Baseball’s 12 and under team?
Daniel secured Team USA’s gold medal victory in the 2015 World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) World Cup. He is a 12-year-old shortstop/pitcher who plays travel team baseball for the Brooklyn Blue Storm. He is the first amateur player from the Greater New York Sandlot Athletic Alliance (GNYSAA) to play for Team USA’s National Team. GNYSAA president Victor Feld expressed his gratitude to Daniel for the accomplishments that he and his team have made.
“Incredible gratification to see a young man who’s got ability progress and take it to another level and make a national team like the USA team,” said Victor. “I think that’s phenomenal.”
This is an outstanding achievement, considering the fact that former professional ballplayers like John Franco and Willie Randolph grew up playing baseball in this organization.… Continue reading
Since its inception 1961, the Greater New York Sandlot Athletic Alliance (GNYSAA) has supported the growth of youth baseball, showing kids how to play the game the right way. The GNYSAA.org website states their mission, “to serve the children of New York City and the Greater Metropolitan Area through baseball while promoting an attitude of professionalism and fair play.”
John W. “Jack” Kaiser, Joseph Russo, and Dominic Scala headlined the honorees for this year’s awards ceremony. These three men were all alumni from St. John’s University, what one of the speakers referred to as the mecca of college baseball in the northeast. Tom Sylvester organized the dinner and Victor Feld orchestrated a fantastic evening where high school players, former ballplayers, and current college coaches came together to commend each other’s achievements. Here’s some background information on this year’s honorees.
Jack Kaiser is one of the most decorated figures in the history of baseball in New York. His incredible baseball journey took off at St. Johns University where he became a student-athlete in 1944. His baseball talents were recognized by Varsity Magazine in 1949 when they named him as the College Player of the… Continue reading
The Bronx Umpires Alliance dinner is held annually for umpires in the Bronx area of New York. They mainly cover outdoor sports such as baseball, softball, and football. It’s a time for umpires to rejoice, discuss the previous season, and what’s ahead for the upcoming season.
Their discussions at the dinner consisted of several common themes, including the state of coaching in youth baseball, the scarcity of baseball players in New York, and the way the game is played today. Guest of honor, Fortunato Salvietti explained that most children in New York are more into lacrosse and soccer.
“They have to get the kids more interested in the game of baseball,” said Salvietti. “The competition [in New York] was a lot higher than it is now. When you go down south, that’s where all the real competition is.”
Salvietti has umpired for 27 years. Over that span, he has umpired in over 50 different leagues. He grew up as a player in leagues officiated by the BUA and now he’s umpiring with some of the same officiators.
“The transition was easy. If you love baseball, you can be a good umpire,” said Salvietti.… Continue reading
Debra Reed: Doing it Right, Giving the Right Memories
Anyone who has played the board game Monopoly learns quickly how to recognize when Opportunity Knocks. Six months after graduating from college, Debra Sirianni found herself in the right place at the right time. At the time she had her sights set on a career in the FBI, but a family friend told her about a new venture in youth baseball that Eddie Einhorn was looking to finance. For readers who do not know, Eddie Einhorn is minority owner and Vice Chairman of the Chicago White Sox.
Interestingly enough, in his early sports business pursuits, Einhorn’s made his mark in basketball. As reported in Wikipedia.com, he produced the nationally syndicated radio broadcast of the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship in 1958. In 1960, he founded the TVS Television Network to telecast college basketball games to regional networks at a time that the sport was of no interest to the national networks. The first broadcast was Bradley University vs. St. Bonaventure University from Madison Square Garden. He helped put together the first national broadcast of college basketball for the… Continue reading
Renaissance painter Leonardo Da Vinci once said, “Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Being willing is not enough, we must do.” We have to apply ourselves and take action, especially when it’s for a good cause. Sports broadcaster, TV/radio personality, renowned author and prostate cancer survivor, Ed Randall has taken this quote to heart applying it to his everyday life.
Ed Randall is the founder of Ed Randall’s Fans for the Cure, a non-profit organization that raises awareness to prostate cancer for men over the age of 40. His organization has partnered with Minor League Baseball and big league teams like the New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays and Chicago White Sox to help spread the message around the baseball community.
“We need to create an army, that’s one of our main goals,” Randall said. He also mentioned that men need to break the cycle of thinking that they shouldn’t worry about getting tested.
When Randall was first diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1999, he didn’t truly realize the severity of this illness. It wasn’t until he was in remission during Christmas and during his birthday that the reality of this… Continue reading
I am greatly honored to announce that I had the pleasure of interviewing the one and only, Jonathan Mayo! Mayo has been one of MLB.com’s top reporters when it comes to Minor League Baseball prospects since 1999. This interview was conducted prior to start of the 2015 MLB season. Enjoy!
Evered: B3, how did you come to giving your baseball blog that name?
Mayo: I wanted it to be something fun and not necessarily hardcore baseball-related. At one point, I had a friend tease me by saying I was “Big, Bald and Beautiful” – and B3 was born.
Evered: Where do you receive your information or breaking news from?
Mayo: I’ve worked hard to build relationships and cultivate sources. I talk to people all around baseball, from agents to front offices.
Evered: How did you develop this strong interest in Minor League Baseball?
Mayo: I’ve always been interested in talking about prospects. Even when I was focusing more on Major League stuff when I first started at MLB.com, I tried to write stuff on the young guys. I guess I like telling stories about guys that aren’t as well known, sometimes introducing… Continue reading
Charles Klasman is the manager of the New York Gotham Base Ball Club, a club that originated back in 1865! Fun fact: The Civil War was coming to a conclusion when the Gotham Base Ball Club was founded. I had the pleasure of conducting a Q & A interview with the gracious Mr. Klasman! If you enjoy what you’ve read, please help the club by visiting their website and potentially making a donation or to read MORE about the fascinating history of the “Pioneer” baseball club. Big thanks to Mr. Klasman for participating in this interview!
Johnny: Can you please tell me a little history about the Gotham Base Ball Club?
Charles: The Gotham Club started as the Washington Base Ball Club in the 1840s and later became the Gotham Base Ball Club. Members of the team were also part of the New York Nine which played the first recorded game in 1845. In those days, they played for fun and for “health.” But it became a passion for many and the popularity of the game grew. The Gothams had several homes in New York, one notable site was the St. George… Continue reading
America’s classic sport of baseball is still alive in the town of Bergenfield, NJ. Sign-ups have begun for recreational baseball and already kids are getting ready for the upcoming season. The Bergenfield program is split into three divisions with junior league covering kids ages 13 and 14, senior league for kids 15 through 16, and finally big league for 17 and 18 year olds. Every year, the junior league tends to draw in the most players.
“I want to get the seniors strong again, we once had three teams and now we struggle for one. I would also love for the big league to catch on in Bergenfield; the town of Dumont has a team this year,” said Vinny Malley, vice president of the Bergenfield Baseball Program. “The junior program is strong but the senior program is getting weaker and weaker trying to compete with club baseball and video games. The big league is a struggle just trying to find teams to play.”
Although there is a need to fill spots on older age group teams, the program continues to support a range of talented and dedicated coaches who work with kids… Continue reading
The city of Chicago has lost another sports legend this year. Former MLB left fielder, Minnie Miñoso passed away Sunday at the age of 90. Miñoso played with four different MLB teams but he spent 12 seasons with the Chicago White Sox and earned the nickname, “Mr. White Sox.”
Miñoso was a Cuban-American who became the first black player to play for the White Sox franchise when he was traded from the Cleveland Indians to Chicago in 1951. He emerged as a household name that year earning his first All-Star game selection, finishing as the runner-up for the American League Rookie of the Year award and fourth in the American League MVP race.
When you think of the premier baseball players of the 1950s, Minnie Miñoso a.k.a. “The Cuban Comet” was right up there with the likes of Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams and Willie Mays. Miñoso was a multitalented player during his glory years in the majors. He was a career .298 hitter, an excellent run producer and was regarded as one of the top base-stealers of his generation. Miñoso’s defense was also a strong part of his game as he won… Continue reading
Speaking with Frank Lo Piccolo of the Brooklyn, NY based Our Lady of Grace/Gravesend Athletic Association (OLG/GAA), you would think that the fate of youth baseball – or any other youth sport for that matter – lies at the mercy of parents who just “don’t want to take the time out to do things like this anymore.” He refers, of course, to the time consuming chores of driving kids to the field for practice or a game, combined with all that goes with supporting kids playing in local leagues, not to mention the travel teams that everyone seems to gravitate toward.
Frank’s Our Lady of Grace/Gravesend Athletic Association, only one of several youth sports organizations within the Greater New York Sandlot Athletic Alliance (GNYSAA), exemplifies the highest dedication and commitment to teaching young players in the right way for the right reasons. County Baseball Publications caught up with Frank at the GNYSAA’s Annual Dinner held at Russo’s on the Bay this past January 22.
As the GNYSAA.org website explains, “In 1961 the GNYSAA, became the successor to the Journal-American Sandlot Alliance which was established in 1945 by New York Journal-American sports editor Max Kase.” In the half-century since Mr. Kase… Continue reading
Baseball fans were saddened to hear that Chicago Cubs legend, Ernie “Mr. Cub” Banks, had suddenly passed away at the age of 83 last Friday on January 23rd. His former teammates, Don Kessinger, Billy Williams and Lou Brock along with other Cub legends like Sammy Sosa poured in their condolences over this past week. The shortstop/first baseman was laid to rest yesterday in the city of Chicago. Mr. Cub would not want us to sulk on his passing. Instead, he would want us to celebrate the precious years that he had on this earth. Today, I would like to reflect on his life, pro career and the everlasting influence that he has had on baseball.
Before Ernie began his Hall of Fame MLB career, he excelled as a multi-sport athlete in football, basketball and swimming. Growing up, Ernie was not an avid fan of baseball. Being that Ernie was such a gifted athlete, his father urged him to give baseball a try. Ernie’s baseball career took off in the Negro Leagues with the Kansas City Monarchs in 1950 where he became a standout African-American ballplayer. He was drafted to the U.S. Army shortly after… Continue reading
Can you believe that Opening Day to the 2015 MLB season is only 70 days away? 2015 definitely has several storylines that are worth watching. The hot stove brewed a number of blockbuster deals across the MLB so without further ado, I present to you a preview of what’s in store for the 2015 season.
The Boston Red Sox put themselves in the conversation for being major contenders in the AL East. They acquired Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez via free agency. These sluggers, who have battled against each other in the San Fran-L.A. rivalry, will add much more depth in Boston’s batting lineup. They also added former All-Star switch hitter, Chili Davis, as the team’s hitting coach. Their starting rotation was a subject of much concern going into the offseason. Boston took a step in the right direction this offseason by acquiring Tigers’ right-handed pitcher, Rick Porcello in a trade for outfielder, Yoenis Cespedes. Rusney Castillo, one of the top prospects from Cuba, has a strong chance of being the everyday centerfielder for Boston. He hit well over .300 in 10 games last season. If he can piggyback off of that… Continue reading
The National Baseball Hall of Fame just got a little bigger with the addition of four MLB legends. Randy Johnson, John Smoltz, Pedro Martinez and Craig Biggio are the newest players to be enshrined in baseball immortality. This Hall of Fame class might be one of the most star-studded groups to enter Cooperstown in recent memory. Here’s a breakdown of each player along with the qualities, accolades and stats that made them Hall of Fame worthy.
Randy Johnson AKA “The Big Unit” received the most votes in his class at 97.3%. Randy accomplished virtually every major feat that any pitcher could achieve at the Major League level. He’s a World Series champion, he threw a perfect game (at the age of 40 nonetheless), he is a 5-time Cy Young award winner and he is the last pitcher to win over 300 games. Aside from his never-ending list of accolades, Johnson will be remembered as one of the most intimidating players in the history of the game. He truly lived up to his nickname whenever he stepped on the rubber, standing at 6 feet and 10 inches. Oh, and not to mention, Randy’s fastball… Continue reading
Hello readers and sports fans! I have a super-special interview today! I recently interviewed author and New York Mets fan Dan Gutman. Dan Gutman is the author of many books, including his famous baseball series titled, “The Baseball Adventure Series”, where he writes about a boy who has the ability to travel through time using a baseball card as a time machine! It’s a great series for young readers who love baseball. There are tons of facts and information that you can learn from the series! Check out Mr. Gutman’s website here www.dangutman.com
JE: What was your inspiration to write fiction baseball history books? DG: I knew that a lot of kids collected baseball cards (at least in 1995), and I knew that a lot of kids were fascinated by time travel stories. So, I thought I would simply combine the two and create a story about a boy who has the power to travel through time using a baseball card as a time machine.
JE: As a kid, did you aim at becoming a writer once you were an adult? DG: No, I actually wanted to be a photographer when… Continue reading