Youngsters learn tricks of the trade in baseball
Steamboat Springs — Dan Drum was giving a group of 10- to 16-year-olds his version of “Sacrifice Bunt 101.”
His directions were crisp split the bat into thirds. Scoot up in the batter’s box when you turn back from getting the bunt sign, so you don’t clue the other team in. These guys are throwing 75 to 80 mph, so that’s why you pinch it and put your hand behind the barrel.
“It’s been awesome,” said Drum, the director of the Triple Crown Baseball camp, which started Monday and ends today. “They’ve already been coached pretty well; they’ve got a good grasp of things.”
The camp normally draws 50 to 60 participants as much as 80 one year but had only 30 players this year. That was the result of more and more kids joining traveling teams, said Tommy Cimino, one of five coaches running the camp. Greg Lesage, Mike Jones, Scott Crampton and Drum are the others. All are coaching at the college level.
“Their attention span is much shorter,” said Cimino on coaching teens and preteens vs. collegians. “But they’re a much more fun group. They like to play.”
Two-thirds of the group was made up of players from two teams: 11 players from the Kirksville Tigers of Missouri and nine players from the Denver-based club The Yard. Individuals from teams in the Triple Crown tournament and past participants made up the other third.
“We saw a lot of difference already,” said Terese Roberts, whose son, Jake, 14, is with the Kirksville Tigers. “They applied a lot of the skills they learned to the game, they’re real enthused to learn.”
Terrill Roberts, one of three coaches on the Kirksville staff, said he and the players gained a lot of insight from the camp, particularly the details such as plate stances, outfield positioning and extended pre-game muscle stretches. Roberts was particularly impressed with the camp’s effect on team member Nate Blum, 14, who had taken down four pages of notes.
The camp focuses on developing the fundamentals of baseball throwing, fielding and hitting but also tries to develop team skills and communication, Drum said. Cimino said the camp has focused a lot on developing proper throwing mechanics throwing drills take up 75 percent of the camp. The group is segregated by age, with 13- and 16-year-olds playing together to maintain safety and competition levels, Cimino said.
“I really like it,” said Adam Joiner, 14, of Vail. “I like the base running. I was never taught how to run the bases.” Joiner was in the camp two years ago, but sat out last year with a broken arm.
Learning new techniques and breaking down the game to a particularly detailed level didn’t disrupt John McClellan’s game.
“They’ve made us do it a couple times,” said the 14-year-old center fielder. “It feels normal now.”
The camp also provides a break from the daily grind of games that most of the boys face. Bill Gaston’s The Yard club has already played 40 games to date.
“This is sort of a vacation/camp for the kids,” Gaston said. “And Steamboat’s such a beautiful place.
“It’s a good camp; I like the bunting techniques. They keep the guys moving, they keep them active.”
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