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May 23, 2011

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McHenry, IL

On the Way To the Big Leagues, where does it all Start?

It is a perfect spring saturday at Lakeland Park in McHenry Illinois, the Angels meet the Cardinals. The Cards bats are hot, players on both teams are tenacious and the fans are really into the game. The key players on the Cards defense continuously threaten the Angels as they load the bases and tag home base. But the Angels are no push over either as they dominate first base. But in reality, they are not even keeping score. No it's not Major League Baseball, it is Shetland level Little League Baseball. Despite the level of this league, the Coaches are serious about the players as they assess and ensure that praise is given and corrections are made when plays are poorly executed or the young ball players form is off. But either way, there is tenacity at the center of what they do. The Coach of the Angels is Tom Gauthier. He is an enthusiastic Coach with a love for the game. His smile is contagious, and he carefully plans as thinks about batting, running and fielding. Coach Tom comments, "we had ten put-outs at first base, energy was up and there were a lot of smiles". The Cards Coach is Jay Center. He is a big man, quiet and reserved. But his team is a made up of a number good hitters who display strong concentration. They field the ball just as good as they hit. Coach Center commented, "this is my first year as a coach, and both teams played hard today and stuck it out". That was a big statement, because these young players were playing in a bright and sunny eighty five degree day. But despite the challenges, the yelling of Coaches the cheers of parents and the high expectations placed upon them, talent still shows through at this level. In many cases you can already see young batters with that great swing or the one player in the field that really has the hang of executing a play. It is apparent that each child wants to do well. Many will go onto bigger leagues one day, and who knows, maybe a small handful ( nation wide) will make it to the minors. And unfortunately, an even smaller number will the majors. But still, there is a love of the game, tenacity and magic at this level that underlines the fact that this is baseball. And when we look at big league players, there is probably a really good chance that baseball started for them at a really young age. So as we judge each player for that poor hitting record or the error on the field, we need to remember that they have probably been playing for many years.  (May 24, 2011 | post #1)