Still Together After All These Years…

Back in 2002, a friend of Mike’s told him that his LYB team needed more players, and wondered if he was interested. I’d been playing catch and pitching to Mike and Kristen since they were strong enough to swing a bat. Mike made the team, and we started going to practices and then to games. It wasn’t more than 4 games into the season when Kristen told me, “Dad, I want to play, too.” The season started, she’d have to wait until next year. Come the 2003 season, both of my kids were on teams.

One thing that was made clear to both of my children, from the very beginning, was you give it 100% or you’re done. And they never failed to surprise me. One of Kristen’s teams always had trouble having the requisite 9 players for a game. They showed me and the coach that 5 of them could do the job when they beat a 9-player team one weekend. No ball was let past the infield as the kids worked their 7-year old tails off.

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Mike
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Kristen

When they got to the majors, one of the rules permitted siblings to be placed on the same team. So, whatever team Mike was on, Kristen was automatically added to that team when she moved up.

It was 2007, on the Major League team Lucas Plumbing, that they met Mark and Luke Krasienko. Eric Morgan was their coach, and one of the best the four ever had. Eric was patient with his team, and he expected them to perform as only he knew they could. He never had to raise his voice, he never talked down to the kids, and they treated him with the same respect. Eric had a soft spot in his heart for Kristen, as she was the only girl on his team, and gave her tips throughout her LYB career, even when she wasn’t on his team.

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Mark
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Luke

Kristen, from Day One, had to bust her butt in order to for the other kids not to give her a hard time. Boys at that age all think, “Aw, man, we got a girl!” It took some time before some of the boys realized it was a good thing that she was on the team. She could hit and field as good as some, and better than most.

Every other year, the four of them teamed up. And whenever they played together, they had each other’s back. They stood up for one another, and they rooted for each other. Mark and Luke had been raised and taught the same ideals, go hard or go home. And that they did. All four had done time in the outfield, “the place where balls were rarely hit.” As time went on, and the quartet showed their talents, they moved forward and became regulars in the infield. And then Mark moved to the pitcher’s mound, and Mike was given the gear to go behind the plate. Kristen and Luke put in time at shortstop and 2nd base, sometimes 3rd, and could turn a quick double-play together.

Unbeknownst to any of them, all were bound for the Clearview school system.

For the first time, they weren’t playing together. Kristen was playing softball.

Kristen’s freshman year, she was playing with most of her friends on the JV Clippers softball team. Shortly after the season began, the 1st baseman on the Varsity became ineligible due to her grades, and Kristen was called up. She played most of the season there and lettered her first year. Now, she’s the starting 1st baseman for the JV, does some time at 3rd, and swings one of the biggest bats on the team.
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Mike and Mark played their sophomore and freshman year together, respectively, and were joined by Luke this year.

Mark gradually worked his way back on the mound. Finishing his LYB career as the go-to man as a closer, Mark began starting games for Clearview. With him on the mound, the team has a much-better-than-average chance of winning games. He’s also a dangerous baserunner.

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Luke has got a glove where hits go to die. Grounders or flies, if they’re hit to him, you can expect him to make the play. He knows where the play is before he’s gloved the ball. And if he gets on base, he’s also a threat to steal.
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Mike finished his LYB career splitting time between 1st base and catcher. It didn’t take too many games for him to love his time behind the plate. Mike’s passion for the game and the position has turned him into a brick wall behind the plate, and a catcher that the pitchers have come to trust. And if he gets on first, it’s only a few pitches before he’s standing on 3rd.

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Mike and Mark had a good chance to move to the Varsity this year, but word got back that the powers-that-be wanted to keep the three of them together. So, with Mark on the mound, Mike behind the plate, and Luke playing straight-away centerfield, the trio is teamed up again. And with Kristen on the adjoining field, the quartet is still together.

They Took Me Out to the Ballgame

Since I first stepped into All-Pro Freight Stadium in January of 2009, it looked like it was going to be quite the destination. I went back a few more times, chronicling the development, and knew I’d have to get there. Little did I realize it would take me ’til now to make it. Thanks to an outing sponsored by St. Nicholas Byzantine Catholic Church, I took my family and my extended family to a game Sunday night. Absolutely enjoyed ourselves! There were contests, and giveaways and contests, and then more contests in between the innings. The game was exciting, Cruisers vs the Crushers, and though the visitors won, the Crushers kept it close, losing only by a 6-5 score. Hope the video inspires you to make it out to a game!!

 

PhotoPhun Challenge: Lorain Youth Baseball

I’m a day late, but I got it. And I’ll be making up the “Still Life” that Lisa did LAST week, this week. Those of you that have come here in the past for LYB photos, check back in the near future. Given the time, I will try to make it up to Campana Park to get more shots, and we can discuss buying the jpegs. Look for an LYB page at the top of the site.

Update: Due to a LOT of traffic on my Flickr site, specifically Lorain Youth Baseball photos I took last year, I have started a set titled “Lorain Youth Baseball 2010”. If you click the link in the right column, it will take you directly to those photos. If you’re interested in a photo, please contact me.

To All Volunteer Baseball Coaches…

Baseball season is about to start for Lorain Youth Baseball. My kids were in the program for 8 and 7 years, respectively. They had their fair share of coaches over that time, some were fair, and some were not. There’s not a lot anyone can do, or that LYB is willing to do, because they are volunteers. So, based on what I’ve seen, and what my kids have experienced, this is for all those coaches to think about:

Treat all the kids the same. If one player screws up and you say something to him/her, make sure you do it to the next one that makes the same screw-up. Especially if it’s your child.

Establish the importance of coming to practice. Do not favor kids that have more experience playing and blow off practice. A team practices and plays TOGETHER. That includes your kids.

If you have a girl on your team, and she’s better than some of the boys, do not put her in the outfield because you don’t want to embarrass the boys. If she earns a spot in the infield, GIVE IT TO HER.

Do not talk about some of your players to other players IN FRONT OF THE PLAYERS YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT. One coach was as insensitive as anyone I’ve ever seen.  He told one player he was going in to catch, and then told him a little later he was going to put in the best catcher he had, which was another player. That player threw the ball into the outfield twice trying to throw to 2nd base, and allowed 2 passed balls, which let a few runs score, thus losing the game. This same coach then pulled 4 boys aside, and told them he wanted them in yet another All-Star game, and did this in front of six other boys. No tact whatsoever.

If you plan on playing your son/nephew/best friend’s kid regardless of his talent, then you should tell the other players on the team that up front. Don’t let these kids believe that they are all competing for positions when you plan on showcasing your kids regardless.  One coach that I’ll call ‘Ray’, had his two sons on the team. Neither of them played with any real passion or intensity, yet they got the bulk of the playing time. They couldn’t catch a ball hit right to them, and though the one ‘pitched’ quite often, he frequently walked the bases loaded MULTIPLE times per game. They often missed practice because they had other sports practice.  Way to be fair, ‘Ray.’ Ray also played the girl in the outfield, and the minimum 2 innings per game, even though she played harder and better than his kids.

Don’t yell and scream at the kids. Take them aside and explain to them what they did. If they don’t listen or they don’t play hard, then you sit them except for their two innings. If they want to play, they’ll try harder and they’ll pay attention.

Coach fair. One coach was very aggressive, trained his players well, and they performed well. However, he would rant and rave from the sidelines if the opposing team did something, and then have his kids do it just a few innings later. Don’t be a hypocrite.

There are other things that I’ll probably think of later, and I’ll add’em to the comments. But of all the coaches that I’ve seen that volunteered to coach for Lorain Youth Baseball, there were three that deserve recognition and mention. Eric Morgan, Carl Gray, and Tony Krasienko (yes, that Tony Krasienko) were patient, considerate and fair. The kids responded well to their guidance, and respected them for it. And they played like it, too. Eric and Tony’s teams went all the way to the championship. Carl’s team, the one year, was hampered by many of the players not making it to the games. However, in one game his 5 players out-hit, out-fielded and out-scored a 9-player team. And one of those 5 players was a girl who he showed no favors to. A tip of the ballcap to these three men.  Youth baseball needs more men like these.  

All-Star Game Rescheduled

 The game that was rained out Thursday night at the Pipeyard between the Military All-Stars and the Latin Stars has been rescheduled for Sunday, July 26th, with the pre-game ceremony at 3:15 and first pitch scheduled for 4:05pm.

From the MJ:The all-star game is being played in Lorain thanks to Josh Hayes, general manager of the North Coast Knights, a new Prospect League team made up of talented college baseball players from across the country.

The Prospect League selected Lorain for a team this year because of The Pipe Yard, which can seat more than 1,300 fans, and the city’s reputation of being an avid baseball city. Hayes and his family have been active promoting the Knights and the amenities of The Pipe Yard. Sunday’s all-star game is one of those special promotions.

The Military All-Stars are made up of service members on active or reserve duty and veterans. The Latin Stars are another traveling team consisting of talented Hispanic ball players. Such a combination should appeal to Lorain area residents, particularly those with ties to the military.

Pre-game ceremonies will include presenting an American flag to the family of Eric Barnes, a Lorain serviceman killed in Iraq in 2007. After accepting the flag, the family members will take the Heroes Walk from the pitcher’s mound to home plate, a ceremony special to Military All-Stars’ games.

Admission to Sunday’s game is free for service personnel, $4 for their families and $5 for everyone else. There isn’t a bad seat in the house.