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Overcoming Odds: The Jim Abbott Story
by Matthew Orso
September 4th 1993 brought Yankee fans a lot of worry before their scheduled game against the Cleveland Indians. In his previous start against the Indians just six days ago, Abbott only lasted three innings and gave up over five runs. The Yankees were in the midst of a playoff push in the AL East. They needed every win that they could muster up. Abbott also needed to put together a good performance to keep his career going. He was a former 18 game winner, yet after that season, his career just was never the same. He was looking for redemption in this start, just has any normal pitcher would. However, Jim Abbott wasn’t any ordinary pitcher. He was a one handed pitcher.
Born on September 19th 1967, Jim Abbott was an eager young athlete. Despite his disability, Abbott never let it get in the way of his performance on the field. He trained himself to pitch with his one hand and switch his glove so he was able to field like any other fielder. Jim pitched in the Olympics in 1988 for the United States and became a drafted pitcher out of college at the University of Michigan. His skills were evident because he reached the Major Leagues one year after being drafted.
New Jersey Baseball Feature Story
Leaving No Doubt
It has been said that perspiration is the mother of aspiration. If you accept the truth of that statement and package its meaning, you will surely turn out an athlete like Jonathan Rivera every time. Involved in sports “since the age of five,” as Jon explains, he learned early that he possessed a strong throwing arm. As anyone in sports knows, a strong throwing arm makes you a valuable player for any team at any age.
This holds particularly true at the youth baseball level, where young Jonathan first made his mark. “I started with baseball in the YMCA league and moved to football,” the 16 year-old Nottingham High junior recalls. As you might expect, Jon played quarterback for his Pop Warner football team, a position that he held for four years. You will never read it in the recorded history of Pop Warner football, but Jon and his teammates will always remember that, with him at quarterback, “the team won its very first game in seven years.”
The trend of excellence that Jonathan started in those leagues followed him as he grew. “I have been selected as an All-Star player almost every year since the age of nine,” he reports proudly.
Managing Your Anxieties In Baseball
by Stanley Popovich
At times, our worries and anxieties can overwhelm us. In addition, our worries can distort our perception of what is reality and what is not. Here is a brief list of techniques that a baseball player can use to help gain a better perspective on things during their anxious moments.
Sometimes we get stressed out when everything happens all at once. Baseball is a game of explosive action, interspersed with periods of continuous strategizing and muted tension. The best players can summon their peak performance at the stroke of the bat, the sudden break of a would-be base stealer, the rocket launch of a frozen rope in the gap, the instantaneous, mercurial harmony of the double play. Players who allow their anxieties to interfere with this rhythmic push and pull of action versus respite will invariably succumb to the vagaries of the game – the deer-in-the-headlights pickoff, the errant throw, the strikeout looking.
Babe Ruth vs. Walter Johnson
The Anniversary Edition
by Matthew Orso
Can you imagine Babe Ruth hitting against Walter Johnson? Well that is easy to imagine because they faced each other a lot in their careers. However, now imagine the Babe and Walter going against each other in a 21 pitch duel over seven years after Babe’s retirement? That historic moment actually took place on August 23rd 1942 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.
It took place in between a double header. The event was a way for fans to come to the Ball Park and help a good cause. All the proceeds went to support the Army and Navy in World War II. 55 year old Walter Johnson stepped out of the dugout and was greeted by the cheering of over 70,000 fans at Yankee Stadium. Johnson known as "The Big Train" was one of the greatest pitchers in Major League Baseball history. According to legends such as Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth, Johnson’s fastball was the greatest that they had ever seen. His 417 wins are second all time only to CY Young and he led the Washington Senators to their only World Series title in 1924. His mere presence made the limbs of hitters shake to no end.
Youth is Served at Seton Hall
by Don Leypoldt
Pitcher Jon Prosinski and outfielder Scott Kalamar will make several more trips to Jack Kaiser Stadium in the next three years. Kaiser Stadium houses St. John’s baseball program. Prosinski and Kalamar- two rising sophomores at Seton Hall- are well acquainted with the Red Storm through their fierce Big East rivalry. And on July 12th, the two played a game in Kaiser for the away team.
The difference was both Pirate products suited up for the West in the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League’s All-Star game. The West toppled the home East 4-1.
"It was pretty cool, especially being one of the freshman, there playing against some of the best guys in the league," remembered Prosinski. "There were guys from schools like Stanford and Notre Dame. It was fun to play with those guys and play against them."
Kalamar and Prosinski’s selections validated a summer in which one young Pirate star broke out while another built on a notable spring.
Chin Music - The National Beep Baseball Association (NBBA)
When baseball aficionados talk about dominating pitchers, they often mention the names of Don Drysdale, Bob Gibson, Roger Clemens, and Sam McDowell. All of these Demons op the Diamond specialized in controlling the hitter’s strike zone.
Whether surgically working the outside corners of home plate or changing speeds to keep hitters off balance, the flame throwers of the game know that nothing establishes dominance of the strike zone faster or more emphatically than the brush-back…the high-inside hummer. chin music.
On Sunday, June 13, 2010, baseball in New Jersey saw a different kind of chin music. Not the kind that intimidates hitters, rather a new genre that aims to empower them. That’s the date that The New Jersey Lightning hosted an inaugural doubleheader in Matawan, New Jersey between two special teams of players, playing a special brand of baseball.
The National Beep Baseball Association (NBBA) empowers players in ways that revolutionize the sport as much as Alexander Cartwright’s original codified set of rules did 164 years earlier on an equally special day in Hoboken.
Rob Walton’s USA Baseball
by Tom McCullum
Robert Walton, USA and Oral Roberts University coach, is another example of New Jersey’s baseball stars whose reach extends well beyond its borders.
Walton, born in East Orange and a native of Rutherford, New Jersey, was a three-sport star in high school, earning all-state honors in soccer, basketball and baseball. In 1999 he became the first athlete inducted into the Rutherford High School Hall of Fame.
He chose baseball over basketball and soccer because he knew he could make a living at it, not just earn a college scholarship. In his sophomore year, he began to receive requests for tryouts from pro teams. "Although basketball was my favorite sport, it was a logical decision to go with baseball," he says.
New Jersey Baseball Bullpen Sponsor
As everyone in the baseball training industry knows by now, the Frozen Ropes franchise system occupies a significant niche in the national market. With over 40 franchises operating nationally and even one in Verona, Italy, more coaches and parents everywhere view Frozen Ropes as the go-to training facility for players of any age to learn the finer points of the greatest game on earth. New Jersey Baseball Magazine tracked down Bill Connolly, Bob Roland and staff in November ’09 for an update on the two year-old Frozen Ropes of Union.
The first observation you make when you enter the converted warehouse at 60 Milltown Road is the friendly reception you receive from the Frozen Ropes staff. Operating as cash businesses in a recovering, consumer economy, baseball training academies such as Frozen Ropes have nonetheless appeared all across the country.
Captain Cait - Caitlin Richards
by Tom McCullum
Lead by example--this is what Caitlin Richards does as Captain of the Teaneck High School Softball Team.
"She gives it all she’s got, that’s what I love about her. She’s an example of what I preach to the team: Go hard, and give it everything you have," said her coach Rich Aponte.
In the 2010 high school season Caitlin switched from playing center field to catcher. She had played a few games at catcher last season in anticipation of making the transition. The change was initiated by Aponte and she was open to the suggestion.
The move proved to be a lot of fun for Caitlin, though she always loved to play outfield. She feels being behind the plate gives her more control over the game. Her offense actually improved with the position switch. Last season, as a junior, she had a batting average of .397, with 31 RBI. In 2010 she had an average of .514, with 12 RBI, at the halfway point. "I get a better view of the pitching strategy. I can anticipate what’ll be coming when I’m at bat. I think this year (2010) has been the best year for me offensively," Caitlin said.
Women in Baseball
New Jersey Baseball Feature Story
Diamonds are Forever
Recruits and Prospects
Passion for the Game - Jose Garcia
Growing up in the Dominican Republic one cannot help but learn about and learn to love the game of baseball. Just ask any one of the hundreds of players born there who have made it to the big leagues.
All it takes is a cursory glance at the all-time list of Dominican born players to know how extensive the learning process is. From Adrian Beltre, Robinson Cano, and Jose Reyes to Albert Pujols, Rafael Furcal and the legendary Alou brothers, this popular resort country has produced some of the most successful, famous ballplayers in major league history.
Senior Shortstop–2nd baseman–pitcher Jose Garcia, a product of the Dominican Republic and of Trenton Central High School (TCHS), hopes someday to become one of them.
In the words of his Uncle Marcos, Jose "eats, lives, and breathes baseball," and he has done so ever since he played in Little League…at the age of 7. He had a gift and a passion for the game from the first time he set foot on a baseball field. It’s the legacy of growing up in the D.R.
Recruits and Prospects
Hard Work and Focus - Hans Schundler
If diligence and concentration form the ingredients of success, then Hans Schundler of Jersey City has no worries, in baseball or in life. The 11 year-old fifth grader of Hoboken’s Mustard Seed School already has accumulated experiences, accolades, and perspective that most of us do not achieve in a lifetime.
He knows, for example, that a baseball team’s performance on defense depends largely on having talented players up the middle – i.e., catcher, pitcher, middle infield, and center field – all positions that he plays, incidentally. He models himself after successful major leaguers, and he knows that "It doesn’t matter how much you practice, if you don’t practice the right way." Heady stuff, no doubt, from an 11 year-old; although not all that surprising. He started playing T-Ball at age 5.
Hans touts baseball as his "absolutely favorite sport," itself a fairly remarkable fact, inasmuch as he "didn’t really get that from anyone in the family." After he played T-ball at the tender age of five, he found that he had a natural liking for the game.
New Jersey Baseball Recruits & Prospects
Sharing the Wealth: Anthony Lebron
You would not expect a ten year-old ball player to have aspirations beyond having fun and trying to make the plays he sees his heroes make at the professional level. Anthony Lebron of Paterson, NJ enjoys baseball as much as any kid you know. He loves watching Derek Jeter make "amazing plays and A-Rod hit game winning home runs." He marvels at Mark Texeira’s bat speed and fielding prowess at 1st base; and, he particularly admires Jorge Posada’s "glove movement, his soft hands."
Some fairly sophisticated observations for an average ten year-old, right? Except that Anthony Lebron does not resemble an average ten year-old.
New Jersey Baseball Archives Feature
All American Jersey Girl
Everyone knows the definition of a tomboy, but few would consider it flattering. The case of Lois “Tommie” Barker, though, might prove the exception.
Although one of seven girls in a nine-sibling family, Tommie admits to growing up “more boy than girl.” The reason, she explains matter-of-factly, stems from the nickname she received as an infant. With wistful affection, she describes how everyone in her family had expected her to be a boy when she was born. Her parents even had the name Tommie already chosen before she appeared in this world on a cool, spring morning 82 years ago.
New Jersey Baseball Feature Story
Realizing the Dream
Like most 17 year-olds with a passion for baseball, Anthony Sicuranza of Harrington Park, New Jersey, has dreamed of playing the game and rubbing elbows with the best of the best. He has favorite ball players whom he follows and tries to emulate, he plays third base on his community rec team, and he can recite little known facts about the game that many of us have forgotten.
He says that he remembers being a fan of baseball ever since he "saw Wade Boggs ride the horse" after the New York Yankees clinched the 1996 World Series. It was the first time the Bronx Bombers had won the series in nine years. Fittingly, Anthony was five years-old at the time.
Reflections of a Catcher
by Scott Bills
Why anyone would want to be a catcher is…well, anyone’s best guess. But, if in life we are defined by our personalities, then I was destined to be a catcher.
One of my personality traits, whether good or bad, is impatience. One hot, sunny day, when I was playing second base during a Little League batting practice, I watched as every pitch that a batter did not hit sailed right past the catcher. Little Leaguers being who they are, that meant a lot of long at-bats while those of us in the field stood around, waiting for our turn at the plate. After what seemed like an eternity, I finally got to hit.
by Frank Colabella
The 21st century is here, where technology and science meet baseball. For years motion capture has been around for video games and the elite golfer and major league baseball players. Here a sports motion is recorded with sensors and a 3-D computer generated motion is created. This motion can pick up on flaws in the human body, which if corrected then can prevent injury and better a pitcher or hitter.
Injury prevention is crucial to a young athlete’s development. Doctors nationwide are reporting a growing number of young pitchers with serious arm injuries. Most injuries are coming from inefficiencies in pitching, muscle imbalances in the body from lack of exercise, and over use which the body cannot handle. One tool elite athlete’s use is to have athletic trainers, physical therapists and team physicians evaluate who then recommend for a 3-d motion capture analysis. That term is used way too loosely in the baseball and golf industry. Many think you take a camera record the motion and the view. Analyze and compare to a major league player. Things have changed!!