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Vanderbilt’s Offensive System Explored

Vanderbilt’s Offensive System Explored

Editor/Collegiate Baseball

Vanderbilt hitting coach Travis Jewett is one of the elite coaches in baseball.

He is now in his 22nd year as a collegiate coach and has been a big reason why the Commodores are 122-37 over the last 2 1/2 seasons and won the national championship in 2014.

His hitters are extremely disciplined at the plate as attested to 671 walks over the last 2 1/2 years (4.2 walks per game) as his batters have a .408 on-base percentage.

They also refuse to give in to inside pitches as hitters have been plunked 191 times during that time. His guys can also hit. Batters have collected 313 doubles over the last 2 1/2 years.

This season his batters have hit .314 with 64 extra base hits in 21 games (42 doubles, 12 triples and 10 homers). They also have tremendous speed with 302 stolen bases in 2 1/2 years.

Jewett not only utilizes a highly aggressive approach to hitting which produces results. But his teaching style is unique with a bubbly personality that everyone embraces.

Plus, he is creative and utilizes every trick in the book to give his hitters daily game-like experiences when they hit. He doesn’t utilize gimmicks and is old school with his approach to hitting.

He is absolutely convinced that for hitters to improve, they must see balls moving toward them just like in a game.

Practices include the use of a special pitching machine which allows coaches to utilize eight programs and eight different pitches, if necessary, in different sequences to simulate pitchers they will go against.

He also places a practice home plate at 55 feet from the machine, another 2-3 feet closer and a third 2-3 feet closer still. Then hitters can simulate faster pitches that go higher in the strike zone as they work on hit and runs which they must swing at.

If that wasn’t enough, Jewett and other coaches throw hitters hundreds of pitches a day to prepare them for games. An in-depth explanation of the Vanderbilt hitting system will be covered.

Jewett said that his hitters focus on success rather than the numerous failures hitters continually experience.

“If we can do that, we can stay sane as hitters since batters have a high failure rate,” said Jewett.

“I want them to be in control. I am a little bit of a cave man when it comes to the teaching of hitting. The tee and all those things are fine. But I would rather our kids warm up on things like this.

“There is a difference between hitting and swinging. Hitting is having balls moving toward you with some speed and movement and utilizing strike zone management and recognition of breaking balls and shapes.

“Every day, I want balls moving at our hitters. When you see the breaking ball shape, is it a ball, strike, up, down, a pitch I want to attack or more of a pitcher’s breaking ball that we want to check off from.

“Hitting in simplified terms is swinging at the right pitches. You would like your hitters to swing at strikes and let balls go for the most part. But there are exceptions. Sometimes that hanging breaking ball, even though it might not be a strike, is the best pitch to crush. I want the other team to know that if our hitters get pitches like that, our guys have the capability of hitting them hard.”

To read more of this in-depth story, purchase the April 3, 2015 edition of Collegiate Baseball by CLICKING HERE. Jewett delves into the visual element of hitting, applying relentless pressure on opponents offensively, why discipline at the plate is crucial, teaching aggressive hitting, why you should never “stay back” when hitting and the problems this causes, why the natural turn of the lead foot is vital, plus much, much more.

Mount Everest Climb Planned For 2016

Mount Everest Climb Planned For 2016

Earls_Harold Army MugFor the first time in history, a college baseball player is organizing a climb to summit Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world at 29,035 feet.

If Cadet Harold Earls of the U.S. Military Academy is successful in raising $260,000 for the 5-man ascent, his team will begin the climb in April of 2016.

Earls, a senior infielder with the Army baseball team who has never climbed any mountain, came up with the idea five months ago.

He saw this as a golden opportunity to have a spotlight directed at Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) which has impacted the lives of many U.S. soldiers.

PTSD is a mental health condition that is triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.

This climb is hardly for the novice climber which is precisely why Earls has approached this climb with precision. Over the years, more than 200 people have died trying to climb Mount Everest. Many deaths have taken place due to avalanches, injury from ice collapse or falls, exposure and health problems related to the high altitude.

A 5-man team comprised entirely of active and veteran Army soldiers has never had the opportunity to summit the mountain until now.

“About five months ago, I was sitting in my room and came up with the idea of doing this to help soldiers who suffer from PTSD,” said Earls.

“I contacted Army Public Affairs, and they told me that no active Army soldier has ever made the ascent to the top of Mount Everest. Then I tried to network the best I could to see if my idea could gain momentum. The officers here (U.S. Military Academy) supported me and got behind me. One contact led to another.

“Now we have an incredible team of 5 climbers lined up who are all active duty or veteran Army soldiers from all different parts of the Army.

“In our training, we have already become very close. I am extremely blessed that this is going forward. I would never have thought five months ago that this would happen.”

Earls said that he has never climbed a mountain in his life.

 “I backpacked with my dad growing up. But that is hardly trying to climb the tallest mountain in the world.

“This isn’t a highly technical climb. So you don’t need a great deal of climbing technical skills. It is more of a physical, mental endurance ascent. I will be climbing Mount Rainier this fall (about 54 miles southeast of Seattle at a summit elevation of 14,411 feet, half the height of Mount Everest).

“Then we are looking to do another climb next December. While I don’t have any climbing experience, the rest of our team is pretty qualified for this endeavor.”

Earls said that at first, he received negative feedback from virtually everyone he contacted about pursuing such a climb.

“So many people at first told me that it was a great idea. But there was no way it would happen. People told me there was no way we could raise enough money for the climb, there was no way we could get it approved by the Army. Others would tell me that I was a Cadet, and I needed to focus on being a Cadet instead of toying around with this idea. So I used negative feedback as fuel and motivation to continue on. I have never been afraid of failure which you experience a lot as a baseball player.

“But before I knew it, people were coming on board with this idea. We haven’t raised all the funds we need yet. But we have gotten through a lot of legal loopholes and steps necessary to make this happen.

“I had an instructor here (Captain Benji Marquez) who was instrumental in providing encouragement to me. I shared the idea with him first. And he told me that I may fail, but I would kick myself the rest of my life if I didn’t try to make it happen. I took his advice to heart. Since that time, I have worked every day on this project to make this dream become a reality.”

Because of the logistical and bureaucratic tape involved in such a climb, this will not be a military backed operation, according to Earls. It is strictly private as companies are being sought to make the ascent possible.

“I initially tried to make it an official Army-backed climb. Unfortunately, there are so many bureaucratic mountains to climb that it makes it virtually impossible to complete this goal through that route.

“So this is an unofficial Army endeavor. I created a non-profit corporation called U.S. Expedition & Explorations — USX. We have a web site that people can go in www.usx.vet   

“That is who is officially putting on this expedition. We are looking at partnering with several other non-profit organizations. In total, we are looking to raise $200,000-$300,000. The $200,000 is strictly for the expedition cost.

“It wouldn’t be right just to raise money for a climb. My hope is that we can raise $100,000 more to help soldiers with PTSD.”

Earls said that this large amount of money doesn’t have to be raised all at once since items must be purchased in incremental order.

“The Nepal permits are $10,000 per person. We are looking to purchase those in April or May. And that is $50,000 right there. We would like to have all of our funds raised by next fall. That would be perfect. Then we could spend a great deal of time raising awareness about PTSD.”

Earls said that he is from Cumming, Ga. and hates cold weather.

“Being from Georgia, I hate the cold and don’t like running hills here. But that is probably why I was so drawn to climb Everest because of this incredible challenge.”

Since Earls is a senior this year at the U.S. Military Academy, he will embark on his military career shortly after graduation. And his life will be exceedingly hectic through next spring.

“I have an extremely busy year coming up. I get married June 11 of this year to Rachel. Then I go to Army Infantry School for five months. We are in the field training and learning officer tactics. The day that ends, I will be leaving April 1, 2016 to climb Mount Everest. That is a 60-day endeavor.

“Then I will come back about June 1, 2016 and have three weeks to recover. And then in the beginning of July, I will go to Ranger School which is 60 days of strenuous training in the woods. So the upcoming year for me will be quite the physical challenge. But I’m looking forward to all of it.”

To read more about the planned ascent to Mount Everest, purchase the March 20, 2015 edition of Collegiate Baseball by CLICKING HERE.

Coaching Legend Gordie Gillespie Passes

Coaching Legend Gordie Gillespie Passes

Gordie Gillespie2JOLIET, Ill. — Gordie Gillespie, one of the greatest college baseball coaches in history, passed away at the age of 88 on Feb. 28 after a long illness.

He retired following the 2011 college baseball season after 59 years and a college baseball-best 1,893 coaching victories at the time after coaching baseball teams at Lewis, St. Francis, and Ripon Colleges.

The coaching legend amassed 2,402 victories in four sports. 

Gillespie was inducted into 15 halls of fame and went 55 consecutive years (3,371 contests) without missing a game.

It was undoubtedly the greatest streak in athletics’ history before the flu sidelined him for the first 11 games of the 2008 season.

At the time of his retirement, he told Collegiate Baseball:

“When you get to be 85 years old,” said Gillespie, “The good Lord has a way of telling you that it is time to slow down. You reach a point when you just don’t have the time or the energy to do the job the way that you have always done it in the past and that time is now for me.

“I have loved every minute of what I have done in coaching for the past 59 years,” said Gillespie.

“I love this school and all the great people that I have had the opportunity to work with and the young people whom I have had the honor to coach.”

While Gillespie has achieved fame and success in coaching four sports, it is his record on the baseball diamond for which he will be remembered the most. 

Gillespie began a run of 59 consecutive seasons as a college baseball head coach at then-Lewis College in 1953.  He spent 24 years with the Flyers and posted no losing seasons after a 5-9 record in his first year.  He directed Lewis to the NAIA World Series eight times and his teams won national titles in his last three years at Lewis in 1974, ’75 and ’76.

He then made the short move down Illinois Route 53 to Joliet and assumed the head coaching reins at St. Francis. He tutored the Saints’ baseball program for the next 19 years and took his clubs to the NAIA World Series eight more times.  The Saints won the school’s first and only team national championship in 1993. 

He left St. Francis after a World Series appearance in 1995 and moved up to Ripon College, an NCAA Division III school in Wisconsin, where he replaced his oldest son Bob – who was also Ripon’s director of athletics – as the Red Hawks’ head coach.  He posted a 239-130 record in 10 seasons and led Ripon to the NCAA DIII playoffs in six of his last seven years.

In the spring of 2005, Gillespie’s long-time assistant and his successor at St. Francis – Tony Delgado – announced his retirement. Gillespie was offered the job and accepted.

Gillespie coached the Saints for the next six seasons and won two Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference championships and one CCAC Tournament title.

He earned over 1,000 of his 1,893 wins at St. Francis, eclipsing that magical number earlier this season. And, he did all that after he had turned 80 years of age.

Gillespie also coached men’s basketball for 15 years at Lewis and started the women’s basketball program in 1976 at St. Francis.

In his 15 years at Lewis, he had just two losing seasons and his inaugural St. Francis women’s team posted an 11-7 record.

While he is known nationally for his baseball accomplishments, the Gillespie legend may be even more prominent in Joliet in the sport of football.

Despite the fact that he never played the game, Gillespie directed the Hilltoppers of Joliet Catholic High to 222 wins and five Illinois state championships during a remarkable 27-year run. 

He may have added more state titles to his resume but the state playoff system was not put into place until 1974, his 16th year on the Hilltoppers’ sideline.

He was recognized by the Chicago Tribune as the head coach of the all-time Illinois prep football team in 1991.

Gillespie left Joliet Catholic in 1986 and started the football program at St. Francis. He directed the Saints to winning seasons in each of their first six years and had the school in the NAIA national playoffs in just its second year as a program in 1987.

Overall, in 110 sport seasons over the course of 59 years, Gillespie compiled a record of 2,402-1170-6 (.672). In all, Gillespie’s teams failed to record at least a .500 mark on only 10 occasions.

Gillespie is a graduate of Chicago’s Kelvyn Park High School and DePaul University, where he played basketball for Hall of Fame coach Ray Meyer. He also played college basketball at the University of Illinois and at Great Lakes Naval Center while in the armed services.

Gillespie is the father of seven children through a previous marriage (Bob, Mike, Billie, Greg, Gordie, Jr., Margaret Mary and Jackie). He and his wife, Joan, reside in Joliet. Between the two of them, they have a combined total of 37 grandchildren and 20 great grandchildren.

A special look at Gillespie and what he meant to thousands of coaches across the USA will be in the March 20, 2015 edition. To reserve a copy, CLICK HERE.

Home Runs Are Up 31 Percent In Early Going

Home Runs Are Up 31 Percent In Early Going

Statistics Collage With HitterBy LOU PAVLOVICH, JR.
Editor/Collegiate Baseball

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Home runs are up 31 percent over last season according to the NCAA’s latest NCAA Division I statistics.

The increased jolt in offense undoubtedly can be attributed to the new flat seam balls that are being used for the first time in 155 years of college baseball.

The NCAA Division I Statistics’ Trends have been kept from 1970-2014.

At the end of the 2014 season, a record low 0.39 home runs per game for each team were hit.

In the latest NCAA statistics, that figure has jumped to 0.51 — a 31 percent increase.

The raw data shows that 869 home runs were hit over the first 1,708 Division I games of the season, according to the NCAA’s baseball statistics’ guru Jeff Williams.

The top two conferences in home runs are the Southeastern with 74 home runs over 92 games and the Pac-12 Conference with 52 home runs over 85 games.

Sixteen conferences have seen 30 or more home runs hit over the first two weeks of the season.

If the 0.51 figure for home runs holds through the remainder of the season, it will be the highest total in NCAA Division I baseball since BBCOR bats were introduced in 2011. That year, the home runs per game total was 0.52. Each year since then, the figure has gone down from 0.48 in 2012 to 0.42 in 2013 and 0.39 in 2014.

Home run numbers are not the end of the story.

To be fair, you must look at the other key categories in the Division I Baseball Statistics Trends.

Batting averages are down 0.37 percent (.270 in 2014 and .269 so far in 2015) and scoring is up 8.27 percent (5.08 runs per team per game in 2014 with 5.50 this season).

Stolen bases are up 5.9 percent (1.02 stolen bases per game per team in 2014 and 1.08 in 2015) while sacrifice bunts are down 20 percent (0.76 sacrifices per game per team in 2014 and 0.61 in 2015).

Key pitching indicators have gone up as well with ERAs of NCAA Division I teams going up 7.8 percent (4.22 ERA in 2014 and 4.55 ERA in 2015) and strikeouts per nine innings by pitchers up 18 percent (6.48 strikeouts per 9 innings in 2014 and 7.64 in 2015).

To read more of this story, purchase the March 6, 2015 edition of Collegiate Baseball by CLICKING HERE.

UCLA’s David Berg Was Once An Afterthought

UCLA’s David Berg Was Once An Afterthought

David Berg UCLA Pitching 2013 CWSBy LOU PAVLOVICH, JR.
Editor/Collegiate Baseball

LOS ANGELES — UCLA’s David Berg is on course to be the greatest closer in college baseball history.

The 6-foot, 194-pound right-handed sidearm pitcher has put up staggering numbers since his freshman year for the Bruins.

In three years:

Berg has 132 appearances in three seasons (50 in 2012, 51 in 2013 and 31 in 2014.

He is only 29 appearances away from the NCAA Division I record of 161 held by David Teasley of Mercer (2010-13).

He registered an NCAA record-tying 51 appearances during the 2013 season.
Berg posted an NCAA record 24 saves in 2013.

In 132 appearances over his first three seasons, he only blew three saves. And all three times, he came back to post a win.

When hitters are able to get on base against Berg, they rarely have a chance to steal because of his quickness to home (0.95 seconds). That is why he has only allowed 2 stolen bases in 6 attempts over three seasons (200 innings). There is no doubt this also is an all-time record, but the NCAA does not keep this unique achievement by pitchers.

Heading into his senior year, he has posted 36 saves.

In 200 innings pitched over three seasons, the Louisville Slugger first team All-American has a remarkable 1.26 ERA with only 36 walks and 176 strikeouts.

As hard as it is to believe, five seasons ago at Bishop Amat High School (La Puente, Calif.), his pitching career was on the rocks.

During his junior year, he only was allowed to pitch 9 1/3 innings as he was learning to throw as a sidewinder from his normal ¾ arm slot. He had a 6.00 ERA with 4 walks and 3 hit batters as he gave up 8 earned runs. 

“David came in as an outfielder/pitcher as a freshman and was a good athlete,” said former Bishop Amat Head Coach Andy Nieto.

“Entering the fall of his junior year, he was having some difficulty pitching on the varsity level. It just wasn’t happening.

“I talked to my pitching coach Chris Beck and told him that we had to ‘Muckey’ him.

“There is a well known coach in Southern California by the name of Scott Muckey at Crespi High School who annually turns one of his pitchers into a sidearmer to give opponent hitters a different look.

“Both Chris and I felt David would be a good candidate to try this. There was no guarantee it would work.

“So we talked to David about it, and he took it from there as he worked extremely hard to learn this new delivery. And he wasn’t allowed to throw over the top any more. From that point on, he was only allowed to throw as a sidearmer.”

Nieto acknowledged that Berg had a tough junior year as he worked on his new arm angle.

“In fact, it took about a year for him to figure out how to throw from this arm slot with a completely new release point.”

During Berg’s junior year, he appeared to be a nervous wreck when he did pitch as he walked halfway to the plate to retrieve balls from his catcher and constantly paced around the mound.

Nieto and pitching coach Chris Beck had to remind Berg to stay on the pitching circle.

“He was definitely a pacer at that time. But now he has grown up physically and mentally and has a chance to pitch in the Big Leagues. He has shown he can pitch to both right and left handed hitters which is rare for a sidearmer.

“We could see the potential he had, but David just needed some work at the change. We knew he was a diamond in the rough. The movement he had with the new arm angle was terrific, and the deception was superb. We felt if he tackled this new arm slot with the commitment he had in the classroom, he would make it work. And boy has he ever.”

Amazing Senior Year
His senior year at Bishop Amat was sensational with a 7-1 record, 1.05 ERA and 4 saves as he led the Lancers to the CIF championship with a 29-4 overall record.

He had 21 appearances in 33 games that season and threw 46 2/3 innings. It was a transformation for the ages.

To read more about David Berg and how he has become one of the top closers in college baseball history, purchase the Feb. 20, 2015 edition of Collegiate Baseball by CLICKING HERE.

Augie Garrido Has Never Backed Down In Life

Augie Garrido Has Never Backed Down In Life

Augie Garrido MugBy LOU PAVLOVICH, JR.
Editor/Collegiate Baseball

AUSTIN, Tex. — Augie Garrido, the winningest coach in college baseball history with 1,920 wins entering the 2015 season, is a study in the word complex.

On one hand, he was brought up in a boot-tough ship yard town of Vallejo, Calif. shortly after World War II where plenty of street fighting was the norm with Navy sailors.

Both of his parents worked two jobs to support the family. They lived in a federal housing development.

He came out of this mostly blue-collar community with a burning desire to become the best coach he could possibly be against the worldly advice of his father Augie.

This amazing coach is the only skipper to lead teams to national titles in four different decades (Cal. St. Fullerton 1979, 1984, 1995 and Texas, 2002, 2005).

In 46 years of coaching, he has led teams to a 1,920-892-9 overall record.

The 76-year-old Garrido just celebrated his birthday on Feb. 6 — the same date as two other giants in history — Babe Ruth and President Ronald Reagan.

Garrido coached at Cal. St. Fullerton and Illinois prior to becoming the coach at Texas

He led the Titans to a duo of national championships at Cal. St. Fullerton in 1979 and 1984, brought numerous people into the coaching ranks, sent scores of players into the professional ranks and helped hundreds of players be success stories in life.

Another side of Garrido reveals a passion for art and finely tailored Italian suits. He is a connoisseur of gourmet food and the finer things in life which reflect success.

Without any doubt, his love of people is the catalyst behind his victories in life.

Many people are not aware that Garrido is deeply religious man who teaches his players right vs. wrong in every phase of life.

The team concept is much more important than wins in the Garrido philosophy.

A perfect example is the 1992 Titan baseball team which finished second in the nation.

Fullerton had a disappointing Big West Conference season, finishing second to Long Beach St. Everyone was expecting the Titans to waltz through the competition and finish first with a superb pitching staff and equally talented every day lineup.

Constant temper tantrums during games were the norm. Players routinely threw bats and helmets at the slightest problem. Hitters stopped running out ground balls with 100 percent effort.

Garrido resorted to the unthinkable prior to the South I Regional in Baton Rouge, La. He refused to let the team practice until the players showed more respect for the game of baseball.

A group of seniors, led by catcher Jason Moler and pitcher Dan Naulty, held a team meeting and came up with strict new rules for the team. If a player threw a helmet or argued a call with an umpire, immediate suspension would prevail. If a player did not run out a grounder or fly ball, that individual must run 2 ½ miles.

The attitude adjustment was just beginning as Garrido and associate head coach George Horton allowed the team to practice again.

“They lost the definition of the word respect,” said Garrido.

“I closed the field prior to the regionals and said we weren’t going to practice any more. I said it didn’t matter anyway because they didn’t get it or understand that this wasn’t about winning baseball games. It was all about teamwork and people. They didn’t show any respect for the game of baseball.

“They didn’t show any respect for the groundskeepers. They didn’t show any respect or appreciate they had a ball to play with and had a bat to use. They just didn’t have the right definition of respect. They didn’t know how to get it. To get it, you have to give, and the rewards will come back.”

The Titans shocked heavily favored Louisiana State in the South I Regional by going through undefeated with four consecutive wins.

At the College World Series, Fullerton raced through its division to meet Pepperdine for the national title. The Waves defeated the Titans, 3-2 in the championship game.

To read more about the amazing career and philosophy of Augie Garrido, purchase the Feb. 20, 2015 edition of Collegiate Baseball by CLICKING HERE.

Is Weight Lifting Causing Tommy John Surgery?

Is Weight Lifting Causing Tommy John Surgery?

Special To Collegiate Baseball

PENSACOLA, Fla. — All kinds of hypothesis have been reached to explain the rapid rise of injuries to pitchers.

Some believe poor mechanics is the cause while some believe it’s too much throwing.

While those are valid arguments, many organizations from professional baseball to Little League have implemented measures such as pitch counts and arm exercise programs in response.

That’s all well and good, but the rate of injuries to elbows and shoulders still remains historically high.

In fact, an all-time record 93 professional players on all levels underwent Tommy John surgery in 2014, according to statistics carried by the web site www.baseballheatmaps.com

A complete look at the dramatic increase in Tommy John surgeries in pro baseball is in the Feb. 20, 2015 edition of Collegiate Baseball. This special report includes a chart which shows the number of Tommy John surgeries year by year from 1974-2014 in the Major Leagues and Minor Leagues and the grand totals each year. To obtain this issue, CLICK HERE.

Incredibly, 878 professional players have had Tommy John surgery performed from 1974-2014.

As MLB cracked down on the use of performance enhancing drugs, steroid use declined and so did the number of Tommy John surgeries initially. But now Tommy John surgeries are at an all-time high in pro baseball.

Now we must ask ourselves, what has changed? What are pitchers doing today that pitchers in the 1950’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s did not?

What happened in 1994 to cause the spike in injuries and surgeries? Why are the level of injuries still abnormally high? Could the answer be right under our noses? I’ll bet it is.

The steroid era began in 1994. To maximize the effects of steroids, the focus on weight training became more intense to build strength and size. The two went hand in hand.

It was during this period in time that we began to see a dramatic rise in Tommy John surgeries and shoulder injuries.

When steroid use was taken out of the equation, the only thing that remained that pitchers in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’ didn’t do was off-season and in-season weight training.

Prior to 1995, the number of Tommy John surgeries were virtually non-existent. This wasn’t because the surgery was new. In fact, Tommy John had his elbow surgery in 1974.

This was 21 years before the number of TJ surgeries began to escalate. John pitched 11 years in the big leagues (more than most pitchers last today) before having the pioneering surgery.

It is said that pitchers who re-cover from Tommy John surgery throw harder than they did before getting hurt. According to famed orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews, the rehab program (surgical tubing/light weights), and not TJ surgery, plays a major role in the success of pitchers returning to the mound and throwing harder.

If this is true, doesn’t it make sense to use the rehab program (surgical tubing/light weights), and not weight training, for a pitchers upper body during the season, as well as during the off-season?

Weightlifting & Steroids
Weight training for baseball players came into vogue in the early 1980’s. Since it was relatively new to the sport, off season weights were done on a small scale, mainly through circuit training for muscle tone, fat loss and cardiovascular endurance. Steroids were around, but mainly used by bodybuilders, power lifters and football players.

When I was coaching at LSU in 1983, we implemented a fairly aggressive weight lifting program for our college players. Weight lifting programs for baseball were very new back then, and more of a grand experiment through trial and error.

In the 1980’s, no one knew what the long term effects would be on pitchers’ arms and shoulders if they weight trained. The old-timers, former pro players from the 1950’s & 1960’s, were advising against it saying, “It will tighten you up.”

To prove that weight training was a grand experiment, and as insane as this may sound today, our program at LSU initially required our pitchers to bench press their body weight 10 times. While it didn’t seem so insane back then, we know how dangerous it is today for a pitcher to flat bench heavy weight.

Many other high profile college baseball programs were incorporating extensive weight lifting programs as well.

Enter The Steroid Era
As I stated above, weight training for college baseball players was introduced in the early 1980’s. College baseball players don’t live in a bubble, and they knew, or had friends, who were athletes that played other sports.

It’s well known that steroids existed in college football in the 1980’s.

Coincidentally, Mark McGwire’s college baseball career began in 1982 at USC. It was during this era that enhanced weight lifting programs for college baseball players were being introduced.

There is no documented evidence to suggest that college baseball players began taking steroids because of their relationships with other college athletes.

But there is evidence that suggests that steroids existed on college campuses in the 1980’s, and football players took them.

There is also evidence that suggests that some college baseball players did take steroids.

After McGwire hit 70 HR’s in 1998 for the St. Louis Cardinals, steroid use and weight training  in baseball escalated, and so did the number of Tommy John surgeries.

In the early 1980’s, enhanced weight lifting programs were not popular yet in professional baseball. When college players from the 1980’s began signing professional contracts, they brought with them the “new” weight training methods they had learned in college.

As baseball players were getting bigger and stronger, those who were not lifting weights or taking steroids were being overmatched by players that were.

To compete with bigger, stronger hitters, weight training and steroid use among pitchers began to escalate. Many saw velocities increase without knowing the potential risks to their labrums, ligaments, or tendons.

Professional baseball began testing for performance enhancing drugs in 2002.

It wasn’t until 2010 that they began implementing more sophisticated tests to catch players whose trainers found loopholes around the old tests. As a result, the number of TJ surgeries began to decline. But they still remained at high levels. Why?

If steroid use and enhanced weight training programs were introduced at the same time, and the number of injuries and surgeries increased proportionately, doesn’t it make sense to conclude that steroid use and enhanced weight training played a major role in the increase in injuries and surgeries?

With steroids removed, and weight training being the key remaining factor, doesn’t it make sense that weight training for pitchers has played a major role in why the number of arm injuries and surgeries still remains well above the historical norm?

To read more of this in-depth, special report which includes a complete look at the number of Tommy John surgeries in pro baseball broken down by year and whether the player was in the Major Leagues or Minor Leagues at the time, purchase the Feb. 20, 2015 edition of Collegiate Baseball by CLICKING HERE.

Wally Kincaid’s System Led Cerritos To 6 Titles

Wally Kincaid’s System Led Cerritos To 6 Titles

Wally Kincaid MugBy LOU PAVLOVICH, JR.
Editor/Collegiate Baseball

NORWALK, Calif. — One of the greatest college baseball coaches in history was Wally Kincaid of Cerritos College.

Kincaid  coached 22 seasons (1958-77, 1979-80) and produced unparalleled results.

His teams won six California Community College state titles, more than any other coach in California history.

Even more amazing is that his ball clubs produced an incredible 60-game winning streak that spanned three seasons – the longest in baseball history.

Kincaid compiled a record of 678-163 for a .806 winning percentage which is astounding considering the quality of teams his ball clubs went against in California.

He sent over 150 former players into professional baseball.

Former players for Kincaid have gone on to enjoy great coaching careers, including George Horton (Oregon), Mike Weathers (Long Beach St.), Dave Snow (Long Beach St.), Bob Apodaca (major league pitching coach), Ken Gaylord (Cerritos College), Don Sneddon (Santa Ana College and now the winningest California JC coach in history), and Butch Hughes (Colorado Rockies) to name only a few.

 “Coach Kincaid was simply light-years ahead of everybody else when it came to coaching,” said Oregon’s Horton.

“My respect for that wonderful man is immeasurable. When he was coaching, he had the model program to study if you were a coach. Everyone wanted to know what his secret was to coaching just as basketball coaches wanted to know what Coach John Wooden was doing at UCLA when they were winning all those championships.

“Coach Kincaid had a simple approach to his offense, defense, infield and outfield practices, as well as pitching.

“While there was a simplicity involved, he would demand quality. But he also coached his players in having a complete offense which meant the short game (bunt, push bunt, fake bunt and hit, etc.) was essential to learn and execute.

“His organizational skills were off the charts, and he created an atmosphere of excellence which required repetition every day. But prior to a practice, he would spend hours and hours to make his practices efficient. Early in his career, he would spend two hours organizing every hour of practice. He adhered to that through the years.”

Horton said practices were much tougher than games.

“They were a lot tougher because of the demands put on us. I suspect Vince Lombardi of the Green Bay Packers was like this. I understand he had a small number of plays on offense, but everyone knew them extremely well, and the execution was superb. So nobody could stop them. Coach Kincaid didn’t believe in any shortcuts to making his teams perform well. We spent many long days with quality practices designed to make our players the best they could be.

“When we got into the state playoffs or a championship game, we were not overwhelmed at all. We had been there thousands of times on a daily basis with the precision needed to perform for Coach Kincaid.”

Horton said Cerritos under Kincaid had a mystique that UCLA had in basketball and Notre Dame and USC have had in football over the years.

“During our pre-game infield just prior to contests, no words would be spoken. It was dead silent as the outfielders would be hit balls and threw them in to the proper bases as well as infielders. When you watched the pre-game infield, it was like a well oiled machine. Rarely would mistakes take place because Coach Kincaid demanded good fundamentals in practice on a daily basis with good execution”

John Herbold, who coached 51 years in southern California at Cal. St. Los Angeles, Long Beach Poly H.S. (Calif.) and Lakewood H.S. (Calif.), said he learned a great deal from Kincaid.

“Every player on his teams could execute every type of bunt with the bunt down first and third, the push bunt toward shortstop or second and the slash if the shortstop was covering third on a bunt attempt or the second baseman moving toward first base.

“Wally utilized a very tough play to defend against. If a runner was on third and a batter walked with two outs, the batter would jog to first. About 20 feet from the first base bag, he would take off, touch the first base bag and keep going to second. The catcher would obviously be flustered at seeing this and many times threw the ball away at second with one run scoring and the batter/runner now at third.

“The way you stop the play from working is that the catcher receives the ball and quickly gets the ball back to the pitcher. The second baseman then goes directly in the running path of the batter/runner coming from first base. The pitcher simply throws the ball to the second baseman who makes the tag, and the runner on third can’t advance. But you must know the play is coming. Otherwise, it is very difficult to stop it.”

4 Key Rules
Herbold said Kincaid had four simple rules.

“No. 1 was to play catch. Any fool can say that, but his teams simply did not make many errors because of the quality time they had in practice working on throwing. They were amazing to watch. No. 2 was throw strikes by the pitchers. No. 3 was put the ball in play when batting. And No. 4 was have good team spirit.”

Herbold also saw Kincaid initiate a sound play for his runner at second base that he had never witnessed before.

“With two outs, two strikes on the batter and a slow runner on second base, the runner was instructed to take off for third on a pitch that was heading down the middle of the strike zone.

“The theory was that if the batter took the pitch, it would be strike three, and the inning would be over. If he hit the ball for a single, the slow runner would undoubtedly score because of the early break.

“We utilized this play one time during a championship game and won it when a slow runner was at second and took off for third with two strikes on the batter and two outs. The batter swung at the pitch and hit a blooper just beyond the infield.

“The runner from second scored easily on the play with the run that won the championship. This is just good, sound baseball.”

Herbold said he utilized another play he picked up from Kincaid.

“With a runner on second base, strike three gets away from the catcher. The runner on second easily makes it to third while the batter/runner hustles to first and then takes off to second base which forces an unexpected throw from the catcher usually near the backstop.

“The throw from the catcher often times sails past second base into centerfield as the batter/runner now advances to third with one run scoring. How is that for a play! You score a run on a strikeout with the batter/runner advancing all the way to third.”

Horton said that if anybody continually screwed up the pre-game infield with poor throws or errors, a price would be paid.

“When I was a freshman at Cerritos, I was playing first base and uncorked a ball during pre-game infield to the catcher that missed the target. Coach Kincaid visually shot darts through me at that time and told me to get off the field.

“Boy, does that get your attention. It was at that point when I realized that I needed to stay after practice and work harder so that I wouldn’t screw up during the pre-game infield. I needed to earn the right to take infield again. And the extra work paid off.”

Horton said the short game on offense was taught on a daily basis.

“Our inside offensive game and slash was taught each day in practices. Our practices were extremely long and lasted 4 ½ to 5 hours. At the time, we had unlimited fall games and practiced six days a week. It should be noted that quality work was being done during these long practices. They were not necessarily innovative, but the same things were done pretty much every day which allowed the players to build great fundamentals in fielding, throwing, stealing and pitching

“We had a main diamond hitting station as batters would work on hitting behind runners, bunts down first and third, push bunts toward second and shortstop, as well as fake bunt and hit plays with our pitchers throwing to us in this setting. The facility at Cerritos at the time was better than many 4-year schools.”

To read more about the amazing system of Wally Kincaid, purchase the Feb. 6, 2015 edition by CLICKING HERE.

Examination Of 2014 Free Agent Draft Revealing

Examination Of 2014 Free Agent Draft Revealing

© 2015 Collegiate Baseball

As the San Francisco Giants put closure to the 2014 baseball season with their third world championship in 5-years, one can’t help but think about the genesis of a successful organization. 

All kingdoms…all dynasties, must be built on a foundation. And for Major League Baseball (MLB) organizations, the basis on which all success is built begins each June with the MLB Free Agent Amateur Draft.

While free-agent signings, via importing or post-draft opportunities, trades, etc., remain an integral piece of the puzzle, the first week in June is the “alpha and omega” with regard to the deliverable…a World Championship.

In 2014, 1,215 players were selected by 30 MLB teams in the 40-round draft. 

In analyzing the draft, the data serves as indicators and variables in teaching us about the intricacies and sophistication of the process.

The Yankees dynasty of the ‘90’s, which was assimilated by Sabean, began with the “Core Four” of Derek Jeter (1992, 1st-round, 6th overall), Andy Pettitte (1990, 22nd round), Jorge Posada (1990, 24th round) and an organically grown amateur free-agent, Mariano Rivera (1990).  

In addition, Sabean also drafted J.T. Snow (1989, 5th round), who later became one of the greatest defensive 1st basemen, ironically, in San Francisco Giants history.

Similar in nature to the architecture of the Yankees resurgence, Sabean used the MLB draft to build the Giants foundation. 

At the time of the last out of the 2014 World Series, seven organically grown players were on the field.

Buster Posey (2008, 1st round, 5th overall), Madison Bumgarner (2007, 1st round, 10th overall), Brandon Crawford (2011, 5th round), Brandon Belt (2009, 5th round), Joe Panik (2011, 1st round, 29th overall), Juan Perez (2008, 13th round) and amateur free-agent, Pablo Sandoval (2003) were all harvested by Sabean.

Other Sabean selections, Tim Lincecum (2006, 1st round, 10th overall), Matt Cain (2002, 1st round, 25th overall), played significant roles in Giants World Championship clubs of 2010 and 2012.

So what does the MLB draft mean today?  Simply said, World Championships tomorrow. 

Combined, the NCAA Division I and high school pool accounted for over three-quarters (78.68%) of the draft.

What’s interesting, is that in peeling back the onion, another layer, 381 or 62.35% of the NCAA Division I selections came from the Top 10 conferences.

The in-depth 2014 Draft analysis features one chart that gives data on how each Major League team chose their selections and another chart that shows the breakdown of how many players were chosen from the top 10 NCAA Division I conferences, 11-15, 16-20 and 21-32. To purchase the Feb. 6, 2015 edition of Collegiate Baseball by CLICK HERE.

Sniper Focus Essential For Pitcher Command

Sniper Focus Essential For Pitcher Command

Film Review American Sniper

Editor/Collegiate Baseball
© 2015 Collegiate Baseball

CORONADO, Calif. — Have you ever wondered why trained, military snipers can hit their target with precision one mile away but pitchers fail over and over again at hitting their mark from 60 feet 6 inches?

I recently saw the blockbuster movie American Sniper, and it really hit home about the success rate at hitting targets from these two disciplines.

According to Kenny Kendrena of Inside Edge, a company that specializes in precision statistics for professional baseball teams, data from all 2014 Major League Baseball games reveals that pitchers only hit their intended target 24 percent of the time.

The way Inside Edge defines this is either the catcher’s glove didn’t move, or it was within one baseball width from the glove.

“People will think that is a low number, I’m sure,” said Kendrena.

“But if they watch games closely, they will see that it’s very accurate. Pitchers don’t hit their intended spot as often as one would think.”

Keep in mind this success rate of 24 percent is for the elite pitchers in the world.

College and high school pitchers obviously miss at an even lower percentage.

So I did a bit of investigative work to find some answers about why snipers are so successful and what pitching coaches and pitchers can learn from these highly disciplined marksmen.

I ran a search on Google which brought up the U.S. Navy SEAL Sniper Training Program in PDF format.

So I scoured through the 314-page document and found some fascinating gems that will undoubtedly help baseball pitchers.

Beyond this information, I purchased the book American Sniper written by Chris Kyle. And he had some insight into why snipers can concentrate so well even in the harshest weather conditions.

In addition, Dr. Bill Harrison, who has worked on vision training with more professional baseball players than anyone in history, chimes in on how pitchers can gain better command of pitches.

Eye Position Absolutely Crucial
“In order to see what is required during aiming, the shooter must know how to use his eye,” according to the U.S. Navy SEAL Sniper Training Program.

“Variations in the positions of the eye to the telescope will cause variations in the image received by the eye. The placement of the eye in this respect is called eye relief. Proper eye relief is approximately 2-3 inches from the exit pupil of the telescope and can be determined to be correct when the shooter has a full field of view in the telescope with no shadows.

“If the sniper’s eye is located without proper eye relief, a circular shadow will occur in the field of vision, reducing the field size, hindering observation, and, in general, making aiming difficult.

“If the eye is shifted to one side or another of the exit pupil, crescent shaped shadows will appear on the edges of the eyepiece. If these crescent shaped shadows appear, the bullet will strike to the side away from the shadow. Therefore, when the sniper has a full field of view and is focusing on the intersection of the crosshairs, he has aligned his sight.”

Dr. Harrison was asked if any company has ever invented a crosshairs for pitchers to view through that might sharpen their aiming focus.

In the SEAL sniper training program, it is said that having a target quartered with crosshairs maximizes the chance of a hit with the first shot.

“In the early 90s, we worked with the U.S. shooting team,” said Dr. Harrison.

“A lot of them were trap and skeet shooters. I was fascinated then by their approach to marksmanship, and a lot of them had military experience. They were receptive to learning more about vision and what you can do to hit the target with more precision.

“Trap and skeet shooters weren’t interested in hitting 95 out of 100. They felt 98 out of 100 was OK. What they expected was 99 or 100 out of 100. That was their mind set, and they weren’t interested in hitting their target some of the time. I’m sure snipers are exactly the same.

“You must find out if if aiming is precise or if there is any quivering with the eye. I would think that snipers are more precise with their eyeball aiming than a general shooter. And they have to be more precise than a trap or skeet shooter.

“There is another element. If you are precise in aiming at a target, are you thinking about other things, including what your body feels like? Or is your attention 100 percent on what you are doing?

“I know you are absolutely right that a pitcher must be a sniper.”

With sniper training, staying still is of utmost importance. But as a pitcher, your head and body are in constant movement until the pitch is released. And even then, the head and body are moving until the follow through is finished.

More On Sniper Vision For Pitchers
To read more of the in-depth article, CLICK HERE by purchasing the Feb. 6, 2015 edition for this special report. Concepts taught by the U.S. Navy SEAL Sniper Program are explained along with in-depth analysis by Dr. Bill Harrison who has worked with more professional baseball players on their athletic vision than anyone in history.

Keeping the eyes still is vital while steadiness of sniper like focus is also crucial. Dr. Harrison explains that getting target oriented by the pitcher prior to the pitching sequence is essential along with having pinpoint focus on the target at the precise moment of ball release.

Pitchers must make adjustments just like snipers. The necessity of proper breathing for more precision target hitting and why the vagus nerve is crucial in this process is covered along with a section on why trigger control is important. The all-important area of concentration is explained and why demanding mental pressure by instructors is vital to refine those skills, among other areas in this article.