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Mariners Teach Skills and Love of Game to Young Fans

07/13/2008 10:49 AM

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13 July 2008

Mariners Teach Skills and Love of Game
To Young Fans, Receive a Lot in Return

HARWICH, Mass. -- The Harwich Mariners’ players spend their nights under the lights shining and their days on the field teaching basic skill lessons to younger players who hope someday to shine themselves. 

     Harwich runs day camps for youngsters from 5 to 14, who are invited to sign up, come out and play with some of the premier college players who are here in the Cape Cod Baseball League fpr the summer.

     Billy Bullock (Florida State), a right-handed pitcher for Harwich, works at the camps as often as he can. 

     “We work two days a week because everyone wants to work the camps,” Bullock said. “We sign up on a sheet and Thibeault schedules us.”

     “We want them to build a relationship,” said Marc Thibeault, a member of the Mariners’ coaching staff. “It’s unique for the little kids to be playing with these guys. They’ll see some of them on TV later on.”

     Past players from Harwich who made it to the big leagues include Tampa Bay’s Carlos Pena (1996) and Jason Bartlett (2000), Toronto’s Jay Scott Downs (1996), Texas’s Adam Melhuse (1995), Baltimore’s Kevin Millar (1992), and Cleveland’s Kelly Schoppach (2000). Both Millar and Schoppach also played with the Red Sox, Millar with the major team, Schoppach at Pawtucket. 

     At the camps, the players work with groups to improve skills and instill a love of the game. “We stretch everyone out and go through skills -- grounders, fly balls. We have them hit off the tee every day for a bit amd work on throwing mechanics,” Bullock said.

     The camps provide an opportunity for the Mariners to show off what they themselves have learned and are learning this summer, whether it’s improved batting stances and swings or refining pitching techniques. They bring quality training to the younger players, all mixed in with fun games.

     “Realizing they don’t have long attention spans is the hardest part for us,” said Bullock. “We expect a lot out of them. We’ve just got to be patient and realize some of them are 5 years old.”

     But, he and fellow pitcher Ryan Quigley (Northeastern) agree that working with the younger kids is the best part. 

     “I like working with the little guys,” said Quigley, a left-hander. “They come to our games and want our autographs. It’s new. I don’t get that at school, so it’s kind of cool.”

     Bullock agreed. “They really look up to us,” he said. “It’s neat. You don’t see it every day. And their energy level every day -- it’s amazing to see. I wish I still had it.”

Ashley Crosby, CCBL Intern ([email protected])

John Garner, Jr.
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Interns: Chris Blake, James Chandley, Ashley Crosby, Phil Garceau, Stefanie Marini, Laura Rasmussen