Baseball Factory Conducts Skills Challenge During 2009 Urban Initiative Jamboree in Williamsport
One of the important aspects of the Little League Urban Initiative is the education of players and developing skills to help them succeed both on and off the field. At this year’s Little League Urban Initiative Jamboree, one of the significant ways to achieve that goal came through the Baseball Factory, an organization in its first year affiliated with Little League Baseball and Softball.
The Baseball Factory, a 15-year-old company whose purpose is developing baseball players who can succeed at the collegiate level, came to the Little League International Complex for the first time in the Jamboree’s six-year history this weekend to put on a skills competition and instruction clinic for the event’s 132 participants. At the clinic, which took place throughout Sunday morning, players were given one-on-one and group training by Baseball Factory staff on the fundamentals of throwing, fielding and pitching.
“We want to help people learn the game of baseball and maybe teach them some life lessons to help them be more successful in life and enjoy life,” Steve Bernhardt, the Baseball Factory’s Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations, said. “I think this is a great vehicle to get them here, to teach them baseball skills—some new things that maybe they haven’t heard before—but also to have some fun with some drills and show them how much baseball can impact their future.”
The Baseball Factory’s involvement with the Urban Initiative put into action the new strategic partnership between the organization and Little League Baseball, which was announced this past March.
“We’re so excited about the new relationship with Little League in general, and then when they told us about this weekend, it’s a really special thing to be here with these 10 teams,” Mr. Bernhardt said. “We were really honored that they asked us to be a part of it. It’s certainly all about what Little League stands for, and it’s a lot of what we stand for at the Baseball Factory.”
The partnership looks to help achieve the goals of both organizations, which include helping young players develop baseball skills, knowledge of the game and personal values that can help them succeed both on and off the field. One of the focuses of the Urban Initiative is to help bring those abilities to players who might not have had the opportunity to receive them.
“There’s no mystery that even at the highest levels of baseball we’re not getting enough players from inner cities that are good athletes, and could be great baseball players,” Mr. Bernhardt said. “So, for us, hopefully, we’ve shown them in a brief time that you can learn about the game of baseball, and it can be fun.”
The Baseball Factory, based in Columbia, Md., has helped more than 25,000 baseball players from throughout the United States make it to the collegiate level, and it has been a major component in assisting those players earn more than $500 million in scholarships. In total, 250 players with connections to the baseball Factory have made it to the Major Leagues. Along with traveling to various tryouts around the country to find talent, the Baseball Factory also holds more than 200 camps, clinics and tournaments every year.
As part of its affiliation, the Baseball Factory will coordinate Little League Youth Clinics and Skills Challenges, to be held at Little League facilities around the U.S.
“All of us who have ever played baseball dream of playing here in this stadium,” Mr. Bernhardt said. “We all saw it on television and heard about it, and everybody dreamt of being here. Hopefully these young players realize how lucky they are to be here.”
For both Little League Baseball and the Baseball Factory, the Urban Initiative is one of the most effective ways to introduce young players to the game.