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.

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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.  

Oh, To Go Back….

I was up at Campana Park a month ago, to shoot pics of the players for Lorain Youth Baseball, and because my daughter wanted to cheer on her team from last year.  As we got to the Park, we weren’t sure how long we’d be able to stay because the sky was not looking friendly at all.

So, with an eye to the sky, and on the field where my daughter was watching, I proceeded to catch action shots of the young players.

While I’m going field to field, in between innings to make the most of my time, I happen upon this young girl who is oblivious of the impending storm, or anything else for that matter.

She cares not where her parents are, nor that she’s soaked head-to-toe in filthy water. She isn’t concerned that someone is going to be very upset when it’s time to leave and she’s going to have to sit on a car seat in the condition she’s in.

She is simply ‘having fun!’ Fun because the water is cool, and the air is warm and moist. Fun because it’s neat to see how high you can get the water to splash when you jump into it.

It’s fun in her little world because she can be whatever her little imagination conjures up, and go to magical places kids dream of, without having to worry about big-people words like ‘responsibility’ and ‘obligation’.

Oh, to go back there sometimes…..

LYB: Campana Development and Photo Update

Every other year, due to LYB’s sibling rule, my kids get to be on the same team. It’s great when you think about the multiple practices every week in the preseason, and then three games per week. So, those other years, my wife and I get the mail delivered to Campana Park because we live there, too.

This year Michael and Kristen play for Campana Development. Since I’ve got the camera handy for the players I’ve been “shooting” for LYB, I got this team also. So, I present to you, LYB’s 2009 F-League Campana Development team, coached by coaches Richard “Boz” Boesger and J.J. Koziura.

Joshua Piotrowski

David Soto, Jr.

Mike Teleha

Jared Miller

Kristen Teleha

Justin

Mike Piedmonte

James “Scott” Short, Jr.

Adam Breeds

Lou Santiago

Mike Koziura

Joe Geisel

 

PHOTO UPDATE: Lorain Youth Baseball has the links available to the website to view and purchase the photos I’ve taken. Go to LYB and click on L.Y.B. Photos on the left.  

Lorain Youth Baseball Remembers Zachary Gott

Zachary Gott was a student at St. Peter’s School, and a member of Boy Scout Troop #139. He had a great sense of humor, and was an outstanding bowler. He played piano, and he played baseball for Angelo’s Pizza under coach Richard “Boz” Boesger. “He really worked hard at the game, and he gave 110%. He was a bright kid, you’d tell him what you wanted him to do once, and he was on it.”

Zachary was killed September 14th of last year, when a tree branch fell on him when a storm blew in suddenly. He is survived by his parents Thomas and Audry Gott, and his sister Julia. And judging by the crowd that attended the Opening Ceremonies for the 2009 Lorain Youth Baseball Season on Saturday, his memory is survived by countless friends.
 

The ceremony began with the raising of the flag by the Cub Scouts from St. Anthony’s during the singing of the National Anthem, and the presentation of a plaque to Thomas and Audry Gott, a copy of which will be on display at Campana Park, by the garden that the Cub Scouts from St. Anthony’s and LYB staff planted, with help from Zachary’s Troop #139.

 

Members of Troop #139

After the plaque presentation, Mr. Gott was accompanied to the pitcher’s mound at Field 1, where he threw out the First Pitch, thus opening the season for LYB’s Major and “F” League teams.

Coaches J.J. Koziura and Richard Boesger of 2008’s Angelo’s Pizza team, along with Zachary’s teammates, sign the baseball for Thomas Gott.

Coach Karl Mills and Thomas Gott

Also, as a tribute to Zachary, all of the Major and “F” League players will sport the above logo on their game shirts.

The sentiments of everyone there were summed up by Zachary’s friend, Luke Krasienko. Wiping misty eyes, he said quietly, “I really miss him a lot.”