March 2006

Spring Baseball Fever

While spring training for the pros may be coming to an end, high school baseball is in full swing.  High School seniors are trying to secure their future, and to them, every game counts.  Many have dreams of playing at the pro level, and have their favorite players they look up to. 

Like the pros, they have to have a balance in their lives.  For them, it’s between baseball, school and family.  They hustle and sweat just like the pros, and have that drive and determination to carry their team to the play-offs.  Below are quotes on favorite MLB players and photos from some of the local high school players where I live.  They too want to be winners, and they too play because they love it.

Friendswood High School Coach Charlie Taylor "We are pleased as coaches as to what we have seen in the first few weeks of the season and have had a good start in district play.  If we continue working to improve we should have a good season ,with hopes to return to the playoffs again this season."

Zach Jacobson, Friendswood High School SeniorZach_jacobsonjpg_1

Favorite MLB PLayer:  Brad Lidge of the Houston Astros because

"He plays hard and grinds it out every game. I admire that.”

Jared Myrick – Friendswood High School JuniorJared_myrickjpg_1

Favorite MLB Player:  Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees

  “….he gets into the game…he’s a great baseball player.”

Bobby Loveless Friendswood High School Junior Bobbyloveless_homerunjpg_1

Favorite:  Roger Clemens of the Houston Astros

“He’s a hard worker and gives 110% every game.”

Justin BarbaJustin_barbajpg_1 Friendswood High School Senior

Favorite:  Lance Berkman of the Houston Astros

"He had an ACL tear like I had and he recovered from it, and carried his team to the World Series.”

Coach Ben Pardo – Pearland High School Baseball Coach on his team.  "It is a close group of boys who work extremely hard.  They have expectations of returning to the playoffs in 2006.  The district race will be a dog fight."

Michael_specialejpgMike SpecialePearland High School Senior

Favorite:  Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees

"Best shortstop of all time."

Daniel LopezDaniel_lopezjpg_1 Pearland High School Senior

Favorite: Mariano Rivera – New York Yankees

"Best closer ever."

Chad Garner Chad_garner_2  Pearland High School Senior

Favorite:  Alex Rodriguez– New York Yankees

"Good 3rd baseman -unique style."

Matt MurphyMatt_murphyjpg_2 Pearland High School Junior

Favorite:  Pete Rose

He always gave 100% every time on the field and was one of the best hitters in the game."


My Friend Molly
Making Dreams Come True
by Michael McHugh, kids
While opening day might still be a couple of months off, ballparks across the country are getting ready.  For the professionals, its spring training in Florida and Arizona, then back home to their stadiums, ready for another big year.
For Little Leaguers,  the practices will soon begin, each kid thinking about what if……..
There is another league that is also getting ready for practice, one many don’t know about.  It’s called the Challenger League, a division of Little League Baseball.
Challenger League provides physically and mentally disabled kids the opportunity to play baseball.  While organized sports often are too much for special needs kids, the Challenger League allows them all to be winners,  It doesn’t matter if you can hit the ball or run fast.  Everyone gets on base, everyone gets a hit, and everyone gets to play.  There is no score kept.  Every disabled kid gets to feel special just like everyone else. 
My friend, Molly Hart, 16, Mollywho has a form of Downs Syndrome, used to watch her brother and sister go off to their practices and she wished she could play too.  Kids with special needs often struggle to find a place in organized sports, and Molly was no exception. 
Several years ago, in my hometown, Friendswood, Texas, a Challenger League was formed, and Molly found a place to belong.  She loves being part of a team, playing with her friends and having success.  Challenger League gives the kids a chance to have fun, and each child is paired with a "buddy".  The "buddy" is a volunteer, usually from one of the Little League teams, and assists their partner in the game and encourages them.
Molly will tell you that her favorite part of baseball is her friends and the "snow cones" when the game is over.Molly2
The Baseball Tomorrow Fund awarded a grant of $150,000 to Little League Baseball in 2004. The grant will support the expansion of the Little League Baseball Challenger Division by funding the purchase of equipment and uniforms for 75 new leagues over a five-year period.
This year, Molly hopes to go to an Astros game and cheer her home team on and maybe get the chance to meet Craig Biggio.
For me, I now rank Molly Hart and the Challenger League as my favorite baseball player and team. She is an inspiration to us all. No million dollar salaries here.  She just plays for the love of the game, the smiles, and the snow cones at the end.  I’d say that’s a great day at the ballpark.