Saturday, October 12, 2013

Play Ball!

 Getting down and dirty for a good cause:  youth baseball

Next season youthful Amherst baseball aficionados will have a better place to play thanks to the volunteer efforts of Amherst Baseball, Inc.,  a new name for the baseball program founded by "Mr. Baseball" Stan Ziomek w-a-y back in 1952.

Last Saturday, in less than four hours, with plenty of help from the Amherst College baseball team, a large part of the general recreation field at Kiwanis Park on Stanley Street was transformed into a regulation Little League Field. 

No one could remember the last time the town built a baseball field.

Spokesman Nate Budington reports the field's final application of a specially engineered infield mix will be applied later this month.

 Batter up!

When it comes to providing safe, healthy, character-building recreation programming the town too often strikes out.  So every now and then, it's nice to see somebody hit one out of the park.


Walter Graff said...

With some new field work hopefully they'll have a more organized organization. Amherst baseball is often talked about by parents as the thing to avoid with you kid. Let's get some better organized sports groups in Amherst that put the kids needs first. Soccer took a turn for the worse this year with the sudden departure of Coach Chris and Joel.

Anonymous said...

Did the town build another baseball field or was this done by volunteers? Many amherst fields are in sad shape. Nice that this was done.

Larry Kelley said...

Volunteers. But it is on town property.

Anonymous said...

Hey Wally. Do you ever have anything good to say about anything? Must be hard to be filled with such hatred and disdain.

Nate Budington said...

Larry--thanks for the shout-out regarding the new Kiwanis Field. As to Walter's post, Amherst baseball Inc. is the new organizational entity managing all youth baseball in town. Since the transition from Stan Ziomek's remarkable leadership, we have completely reorganized pre-Little League ball (and the new Kiwanis Field will be dedicated solely to our younger kids), have refashioned our Little League pre-season as an evaluative "spring training" prior to the division into four teams, are mid-way through a reconstruction of the middle school field, are beginning discussions to help the town repair and maintain Ziomek Field, to name just a few of our undertakings. We're an 18 member board of parents and coaches with energy, expertise and a devotion to youth baseball. As to the Kiwanis project, it was a volunteer effort led by Amherst Baseball, with help from Alan Snow and the town DPW, Curb-to-Curb Landscaping, Alan Wentworth, and the Amherst College Baseball team.

One thing that characterized Stan's approach to baseball was his belief that youth baseball should be inclusive and should not overemphasize winning above all else. Some things will be changing under our new leadership, but not that. We want boys and girls of every ability from every background to join us for some spring and summer fun on the diamond. And we'll make them better ballplayers along the way.

Walter Graff said...

"As to Walter's post, Amherst baseball Inc. is the new organizational entity managing all youth baseball in town."

This is good to hear. Let's hope it prospers and becomes all it can be. I know what preceded it was not very well run so new management is a welcome site if you fix the ills that plagued it before.

As for winning, I hope you folks do your research. Vince Lombardi said it best "Winning isn't everything, but striving to win is". In other words, focus on the effort and the accomplishment due to the effort and not just the narrow goal of winning. That builds successful individuals. Focusing on individual achievement and progress is key to successful sports programs for youth. Everything else is just political correctness disguised as the "right thing to do".

Taking away all sense of winning only creates entitled young adults who think they should get an award for anything they do in life as we are seeing with the millennials.

There is nothing worse than reinforcing the wrong kind of self esteem. It's as bad as focusing on winning and nothing else. Without a balance of both achievement and goals you have given children a serious disadvantage.

Let's hope it becomes a great success in Amherst. So many parents have been taking their kids out of town for Baseball in the past. It's a great sport for kids and every town should have a wonderful program.

Nate Budington said...

I believe I said "overemphasize".

This means Little Leaguers will receive equal playing time whether natural athletes or the opposite. Babe Ruth players will not have equal playing time but will be welcome to join the league no matter how skilled.

Coaches will be coaching to win, but with the team they have, not by overplaying the kids with the best arms and best bats.

Later, in Mantle, American Legion and high school ball, the approach changes appropriately.

Nothing politically correct in that.