Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Park Cleanup Day - Saturday, Dec. 3rd

Please join us this Saturday, December 3rd, for our annual fall park cleanup day at the MPTLL fields at Randolph Park. It begins at 9am and will last most of the day. There will be leaves and other debris to collect, as well as other projects that need helping hands.

We are truly fortunate to have one the the finest youth baseball and softball facilities around. And there is a reason - our volunteer grounds crew does not have an offseason. There are routine maintenance tasks (like grass cutting, debris cleanup, equipment maintenance and dirt replacement) and special projects (like field construction, sod cutting, painting, tree removal, concrete pouring and drainage control) all year long. I think one of the greatest challenges for our grounds crew is simply how to prioritize all the work. But they are always committed to getting it done.

I've been associated with Myers Park Trinity for most of my life and I have never seen the park looking so great on a consistent basis like it has in recent years. Nor have I seen such a hard-working and dedicated volunteer grounds crew. Regardless of the weather, the season or the time of day, I see either Tony McNay, Boyd Correll or another member of our grounds crew working at the park almost every time I go out there for lessons or practice. Their commitment is really amazing.

Occasionally they ask for our help, and we need to deliver. So please try to find some time this Saturday to lend a hand. And spread the word to other parents and coaches about this event so we can get as many volunteers as possible. You can send them a link to this post.

It starts at 9:00 am and will last all day. So even if you have basketball or some other activity to attend, hopefully you can spend a couple of hours before or after at the park. If you have a gas-powered leaf blower, please bring it. If not, bring a rake. A couple of snow shovels will be needed too for debris removal. Hope to see you on Saturday.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Little League Rule Changes for 2012

Little League International has announced its rule changes for 2012, some of which will directly affect Myers Park Trinity. Our Major League division may now play "dropped third strike" rules. And the residency documentation process for All-Stars has gotten more strict - documents must now come from within a specific time frame. More details are here.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

MPTLL Wall of Champions

Next time you're at the park, check out the latest addition beyond the right field fence of Randolph East Field. It has been dubbed the "Wall of Champions" and it celebrates our recent string All-Star tournament winners. Each team has a sign commemorating its accomplishment with a team photo and roster.

So far there are signs for the following teams that have won Little League banners over the last four years: the 2008 9-10-year-old District 3 Champions, the 2010 11-12-year-old District 3 Champions, and the 2011 10-year-old and 11-year-old TOC Champs. The 2011 9-year-old TOC and State Invitational Champions will be added soon. And we hope to add many more signs in the years to come.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Little League Bat Regulations Announced For 2012

Little League International has announced its bat regulations for the 2012 season. There do not appear to be any major changes at the Major League level and below. The composite bat moratorium and updated list of approved composite bats remains in effect. Here is more info.

Keep in mind that the Myers Park Trinity Softball division, as well as our Junior League baseball division and above, are NOT governed by Little League.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Another Tragic Reminder About L-Screen Safety

Please check out my Hardball Mechanics post about the potential dangers of throwing batting practice to your team. A Florida teenager was recently killed while throwing from behind an L-screen. Our own Harrison Jones has had two serious injuries himself and wants others to learn from his experiences.

Monday, September 19, 2011

MP Cougars Win on Sunday

The 9U Myers Park Cougars won their Sunday Challenge tournament in Matthews with a couple of big wins. The team beat Steele Creek 24-7 and host team MARA 15-5 with solid pitching and defense, and impressive hitting. They are coached by William Bray, Paxton Hollar, Tom Giardi and Ryan Smith. Congrats to the Cougars and best of luck in the future.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

MPTLL History Project: 1954-1956

The Myers Park Civitan League's third year saw more changes as the "kid loop" continued to evolve. In 1954 the Blythe Motors team changed sponsor names and became known as Auto Finance. But star pitcher Greg Schachner and others remained, and the team started strong.

During this early period, the league constructed a new playing field near the Mint Museum on Randolph Road that would remain in use for over 40 years. Later named E.C. Griffith Field in honor of the new park's generous land owner, Ranson Field was built by league volunteers while teams continued to play at the Myers Park Elementary School playground. Phil Howser and his Charlotte Hornets' grounds crew would later help construct a grass infield at the new ballpark, which was originally named for the first Myers Park Civitan Club president, John Ranson. By 1954, the league's teams were making news consistently at the new field. And it would soon play host to District 3 All-Star games.

The four Major League teams - Auto Finance, Farmer's Dairy, Harry & Bryant and Hotpoint - would continue their sponsorship unchanged in 1955 and 1956. Throughout the summer, they would pack a full schedule of games into each week. This was a period when many of our league's future coaches were enjoying their own Little League days - men like Zan Copeland, who would coach the Trinity team from the mid-1970's until his death in 2010; Buddy and Teddy Dubose, who coached several teams, including the original Carolina Pad / Kitchens Unlimited team in the early 1980's; and Pete and Wayne Ayers, who starred at Dilworth, later coached Proposition XLV / T.R. Lawing in the '80's and '90's, and enjoy watching a third generation of their family play today.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Hardball Mechanics

Starting today, most content not directly related to Myers Park Trinity or Little League Baseball will be posted on my new site, Hardball Mechanics. Please visit that site for information on pitching, hitting, arm care, equipment, training and anything relating to youth baseball. The MPTLL Blog will continue to provide news relating to our league, including tournaments, standings, registration, history, rules, Little League, etc. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Allure of Being "Elite"

I encourage you to read this ESPN article by Tim Keown about the state of travel ball in America. Although not exactly new information, Keown's commentary is on the money. I think I agree with everything he says, and would only add that what actually matters in youth baseball is fun and good coaching. We have both right here at home.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Reason Enough To Back Up the Mound

Braydon Salzman was extremely lucky to avoid serious injury on Friday at the Little League World Series. Watch the video if you haven't seen it. Little League's days with a 46 foot mound are hopefully numbered.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Little League World Series Begins Today

The 65th annual Little League World Series begins today in South Williamsport, PA. Warner Robins, GA will again represent the Southeast Region in this 11-12-year-old international tournament (Mint Hill LL had previously won our own District 3 Tournament at Myers Park, and Tar Heel LL in Greenville had won the NC State Tournament).

The games begin today at 1:00 with Chinese Taipei vs. Mexico on ESPN. Here is the complete schedule of games. You can follow along online here. And you can even view player profiles - this kid may be one to remember.

For historical information about the international tournament, check out the Little League World Series History Book or the independently managed Unpage Publications.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Final Week of Fall Ball Sign-Ups

Online registration for the 2011 Myers Park Trinity Fall Baseball and Softball season is under way and will continue for another week. For more information, see below or go to the announcements section at Fall registration closes on Friday, August 19th.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Five-Year UNC Curveball Study Complete

A study of over 1,300 youth pitchers has been concluded by the University of North Carolina and Little League Baseball. The results: overuse, not curveballs are to blame for arm injuries.

As mentioned before on this site, it's the young pitchers that repeatedly push themselves to the limit without enough rest in between outings that risk hurting themselves. And previous studies have indicated that curveballs don't put any more stress on the arm than fastballs.

Still, the calls for banning curveballs in Little League have persisted. But Little League President and CEO Stephen Keener has now concluded that a ban won't be necessary.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Hendrick Automotive Sponsors Middle School Sports

This just in at the Charlotte Observer... The full slate of CMS sports are back, thanks to a $250,000 sponsorship deal with Hendrick Automotive Group and it's subsidiary, This is great news for our Little League alumni. Thank you, Rick Hendrick.

Laying Off the Doughnuts

Here's an interesting article from the Wall Street Journal about the actual effect that swinging a weighted bat in the on-deck circle has on your swing at the plate.

Baseball players have used bat doughnuts or other types of weights for many years in order to make their regular bat feel lighter during their at-bat. Doughnuts are not allowed in Little League, and technically neither is the on-deck circle, but players often use two bats or a weighted bat sleeve to warm up.

But scientific testing has proven that swinging a weighted bat in the on-deck circle actually slows down your swing at the plate by activating slow-twitch muscle fibers best used for endurance, not the quick burst of speed needed to hit a fastball.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

MPTLL Featured in Myers Park Life

The Myers Park Trinity 9-, 10- and 11-year-old All-Star teams are featured in Myers Park Life Magazine this month for their success in the Tournament of Champions in June. The 11's grabbed the cover, and there are additional pictures on pages 26-27.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Fall Ball Registration Has Begun

Online registration for Fall Baseball and Softball at MPTLL has begun. Sign-ups run from August 1st through 19th. The season takes place mostly in September and October.

Fall Ball is an instructional league focused more on teaching the fundamentals of the game, and less on scores and results. There are no standings, trophies, tournaments, etc. It's a good time for players to improve their skills in a low-pressure environment.

There is more information on the MPTLL website and archived on this blog. Click here to register online.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Josh Beckett Makes a Kid Cry....

.....but in a good way. He's all heart.....

The follow-up interview is here. In other news, Air Bud caught the first pitch at Petco Park.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Passing Down a Love of the Game

Here's a good article from Moms Team about "Passing the Baseball Torch" from generation to generation. It's a selection from a book by Dan Clemens, called The Perfect Season.

Making the big leagues is one-in-a-million, so one of the best things we can do for our own kids and other baseball players we coach is to simply instill a love of the game, so they can enjoy it as much as we have for so many years.

How does one come to love baseball? According to Clemens, it comes from two sources:

1. From our experiences on the field. I will never have a true appreciation for ice hockey because I never played - I can't even skate (on blades or wheels). But I know what it's like to play baseball - to make solid contact, steal a base, rob a hit, strike out a batter, or just kill time in the dugout. I loved it and thrived on it. And....

2. From the people around us - the stories they tell, the lessons they've learned, the players and teams they follow, the experiences we share with them. This is not about instructing our sons to swing correctly or driving them to succeed. It's about creating good memories and being a fan of the game.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Pouting Kid Gets a Souvenir

This is too good not to post....

UPDATE.... This kid didn't even need to pout much at all, thanks to a generous young fan...

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Being a Team Player.... and Parent

Here's a great article at the Hickory Husker in Indiana about the often lost concept of being a team player, and perhaps equally important, being a team parent. As we finish our All-Star season, where the "stakes" can seem pretty high, a good question to ponder is - did you attend games to support the team, or just your own child? There is a clear difference, and I have experienced each.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Myers Park 9's Are State TOC Champs

The MPTLL 9-Year-Old All-Stars won two games on Thursday to complete an improbable run and win the 9-Year-Old State Invitational Tournament of Champions. The team, managed by Arthur Morehead, also won the District 3 TOC in June. They are the first Myers Park team ever to win two banners in one year.

This completes a successful summer for our Myers Park Major and Minor League division teams. The 10's and 11's also won their District 3 TOC's, making a total of four new banners for the league this year. At the Little League Baseball level (9-12), this matches our banner total from the previous 23 years. Congrats to the 9's and all the Myers Park teams.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Tribute to Derek Jeter

On the heels of his 3,000th hit, the complete Derek Jeter experience is here, thanks to Whether you're a Yankee fan or not - he just might be the best role model in sports.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

District 3 Tournaments Begin This Weekend

The official NC District 3 Little League Tournaments begin this Friday at various locations around the county. Three Myers Park Trinity teams won their first tournaments, and three will now try to win the District and advance to the State Tournament. Here are the schedules:

11-12-year-old District Tournament at Pineville / Myers Park.
10-11-year-old District Tournament at Myers Park.
9-10-year-old District Tournament at Mint Hill.

In addition to these District Tournaments, the 9-year-old State Invitational Tournament is being hosted by Myers Park. Good luck to all the teams.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Honoring the Troops on Independence Day

On Independence Day, here's to the men and women serving our country both at home and overseas. One MPTLL family was recently featured on Fox Charlotte about their son, Timothy Sawyer's service in Afghanistan. Timothy's brother, Stephen, played on Al Browne, and his father, Pierce, helped coached the team.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Historic Success For Myers Park Trinity

Our league enjoyed its most successful day of summer competition ever on Sunday, winning three All-Star tournaments. The 11's, 10's and 9's all won their Tournament of Champions (TOC) and brought three banners home to MPTLL in one day. The 12's had an outstanding tournament as well, going 4-1 and reaching the semifinals of the 12-year-old TOC.

The 11's went 5-1 this week and beat Weddington American 4-3 in the final.

The 10's went 6-0 in this week and beat Weddington Natl. 13-2 in the final.

The 9's beat Weddington National 8-4 and finished 6-0 in their tournament.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

TOC Schedule Update

The Myers Park 12's lost a heartbreaker 2-1 to Dilworth last night in semifinal action in Pineville. The 11's were rained out and play Dilworth at 11:00 today at home. The 10's play Weddington American at 12:00 in Mint Hill. And the 9's were also rained out and play Dilworth today at 1:00 at Dilworth. Good luck!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Four MP Teams to Play in TOC Semifinals

Myers Park is 15-1 so far in the Tournament of Champions and all four teams will play in the semifinals this weekend. Three teams will play Dilworth tonight: the 12's at 8:00 in Pineville, the 11's at 6:00 at Myers Park and the 9's at 8:00 at Dilworth. The 10's will play an undetermined opponent at 12:00 on Saturday in Mint Hill. Good luck to all of our teams.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sports Parenting the Gerry McIlroy Way

Among all the news about obsessive and aggressive sports parents out there is a good article at Bob Cook's blog, Your Kid's Not Going Pro, about Gerry McIlroy. Gerry is the father of "next big thing," Rory McIlroy, who just came off a 16-under US Open Golf Championship. Obviously Rory did "go pro," but he did it without the kind of parenting that too often makes news in golf and other sports.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Successful TOC Day for MP

Myers Park went 5-0 on Day 2 of the TOC, winning games in all age groups (two by the 9's). The league went 7-1 over the weekend. The 12's, 10's and 9's are 2-0 in their tournaments, while the 11's split two games with a talented Weddington National team. Click on the links in the right hand column for schedules and game results.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

10-year-old TOC Schedule Change

The Father's Day 10-year-old TOC game vs. Coul Oak has changed from 6:00 to 12:00. The dust storm and thunder storm delays on Saturday caused a changed in the Sunday schedule.

The 10's beat CO 5-2 on the first day. The MP 12's won big with four home runs. The 9's were suspended, up 8-0 and the 11's lost a tight one to Weddington National.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

District 3 Tournament of Champions Begins Saturday

The District 3 Tournament of Champions (TOC) starts this weekend in the 9-, 10-, 11- and 12-year-old age groups. Come out and support our TOC All-Star teams as they try to add more banners to the MPTLL collection. Here are the schedules:

12-year-old TOC  -  Hosted by Pineville-Ballantyne LL
11-year-old TOC  -  Hosted by Myers Park Trinity LL
10-year-old TOC  -  Hosted by Mint Hill LL
9-year-old TOC  -  Hosted by Dilworth LL

Don't Forget Home Plate, Boys

This is a heartbreaking story about a team not only losing a game, but a state championship, because a player failed to step on home plate. Don't let this happen to you. No matter how big the game is, you gotta touch 'em all.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

What To Do This Summer... Build a Wiffle Ball Field

Here's a cool story about a wiffle ball field and league in New York. Chris Hess did it with dugouts, an electronic scoreboard, and uniforms. Our family's field (left) was done on the cheap. Hours of weekly fun for just an occasional can of spray paint. Oh - and don't forget the foul poles.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Lightning Safety

The animated picture on the left is no joke. It's thunderstorm season and knowledge about lightning safety is a must for coaches, parents and players.

If you can hear thunder, that means lightning is close enough to strike. Get your players off the field and into a closed shelter or vehicle.

Here is a link to more information on lightning safety from the NOAA National Weather Service.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Don't Try This at Home

Here's how the baseball team entertains the fans (and themselves) during a rain delay at Radford University....

Sunday, June 5, 2011

2011 Spring Season Wrapped Up

The 2011 Spring Season was finished on Saturday with tournament championship games and postseason trophies and awards. Congratulations to the following tournament champions:

Major League  -  Christ Church
National League  -  TR Lawing
American League  -  JE Dunn Construction

Congratulations to the following regular season champions:

Major League - Christ Church and Carolina Pad
National League - TR Lawing
American League - JE Dunn Construction

Congratulations to the following team sportsmanship award winners:

Major League  -  Judge Fred Hasty Award  -  Regions Bank
National League  -  Stone Barnett Award  -  McGladrey, Inc.
American League  -  Sean Schultz Award  -  Chick-fil-A

Thanks to all the parents and volunteers for a great season. Special thanks goes to our grounds crew, whose year-round tireless efforts have made our park the absolute best.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Closing Day Schedule is Set for Saturday

The MPTLL league tournaments continued this week with semifinal games on Tuesday and Wednesday. In the Major League division, Christ Church defeated Cameron Harris and Al Browne beat Carolina Pad in 8 innings. CC and AB will meet on Saturday at 12:00 on the "new field."

In the National League, TR Lawing beat Cotswold Barber Shop in 7 and Empowered Benefits beat US National Whitewater Center to earn a spot in the final on Saturday at 12:00 on Wade Field.

And in American League action, JE Dunn Construction defeated K&L Gates and Bray & Long beat Andrew Roby. The two will meet in the tournamant championship on Saturday at 12:00 on Randolph East.

Major League consolation games will be played at 10:00. Good luck to all the teams playing on Saturday.

Closing Cermonies will begin on Founders Field at 2:00, or immediately following the last tournament final. Annual trophies and awards will be presented to various teams and players. Everyone is invited.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Successful Challenge Weekend for Myers Park

Myers Park Trinity won three challenge tournaments this past weekend and finished 2nd in three others. It was an outstanding showing for our teams, especially the 10U Tigers, 9U Warriors and 8U Cougars (left), who all won their tournaments. Congratulations to those teams. Click on the tournament links in the post below for all the details. Coaches - feel free to comment if you'd like to add any additional info about your weekend.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Memorial Day Challenge Tournaments This Weekend

The Myers Park Challenge teams will be competing in tournaments this weekend. Several of the games will be hosted by MPTLL at Randolph Park. Good luck to these teams.

12U - Ferguson  -  Myers Park at South Charlotte (Olde Providence)
11U - Hamil  -  MP Mustangs at Poston & Ferguson Parks (Gaston Co.)
10U - Heaton  -  MP Tigers at Matthews
9U - Hodges  -  MP Braves at Myers Park
9U - Wade  -  MP Warriors at Myers Park
8U - Bray  -  MP Cougers at Myers Park
8U - Brietz  -  MP Mavericks at Myers Park

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Post-Season Tournament Update

League tournaments will resume next week with semifinal action on Tuesday for the American and National Leagues, and on Wednesday for the Major League. Tournament finals will be played at 12:00 on Closing Day, just prior to 2:00 Closing Ceremonies. Click on the links below for updated brackets:

Major League
National League
American League

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

MPTLL Postseason Tournaments Are Underway

The MPTLL Little League divisions have wrapped up the regular season and are playing their annual postseason tournaments.

The American League (Machine Pitch) Division began its tournament on Saturday with a six game slate and will continue with the quarterfinals on Tuesday and Wednesday this week.

The National League is also down to the quarterfinals and will play its games tonight at 5:30 and 7:30.

The Major League Division has named its league co-champs - Carolina Pad and Christ Church - and will begin its postseason tournament on Wednesday. Each ML team will play three games regardless of the outcomes.

Good luck to all the remaining teams.

Joey Bats is Where It's At

Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays is the man to watch in 2011. Albert Pujols may be the greatest hitter of the past decade, but Bautista is the best in the game right now. His numbers make that obvious. After two months, he is 1st in home runs (19), on-base percentage, runs and walks. He is 2nd in batting average at .353. Since the 2010 season began "Joey Bats" has hit 73 bombs. This year he is on pace for 65 - an unheard of number in the supposed post-steroid era.

How does he do it? Just watch his swing over and over. Notice the violent hip turn, the firm front leg, and he doesn't swing level to the ground, kids - he's level to the pitch with a high finish, and then some.

Let's hope Bautista doesn't go the way of Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and now apparently Lance Armstrong. Because this is fun to watch:

Monday, May 23, 2011

Former Bonds Trainer Coaching Youth Team

Greg Anderson is a convicted felon and recently spent a year in prison in connection with the Barry Bonds steroid scandal. Now he is mentoring 11- and 12-year-old kids as a coach in the Burlingame (CA) Youth Baseball Association. Anderson was "vetted" by the league prior to the season, but still missed four weeks due to a return trip to jail. According to one team parent, “The kids like him, and he’s a really friendly guy, so my husband and I don’t question it. Really, it’s kind of fun to have a celebrity coaching the team.” Check out the NY Times article for a good laugh.      

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Summer Baseball Instruction at Randolph Park

Myers Park Trinity is excited to offer a variety of instructional baseball opportunities for the upcoming summer. This is a chance for your kids to work on improving their game in a familiar and convenient setting.

MPTLL's own Baseball Fever camp, under the direction of long time league coach Jason Wishnefsky, is returning for its 10th summer. Jason was an instructor with Baseball Fever from day 1, and more recently partnered with Zan Copeland to provide this camp to our players. Baseball Fever has scheduled three, 5-day All Skills camps, a 2-day pitching and catching camp, and a 2-day hitting camp.

John Spencer, Head Varsity Baseball Coach at Myers Park High School, has scheduled two, 4-day All Skills camps. Coach Spencer previously held sessions on Sundays last August and September at our fields.

HQ4 Baseball will also be holding camps this summer, and will have two, 4-day All Skills camps, and a 4-day pitching and catching camp. 

And for individual or group hitting or pitching instruction, I will continue to schedule lessons at our park throughout the year, using video analysis to pinpoint mechanical flaws and customized drills to fix them. This summer's schedule will include mornings and afternoons. For more information, please visit my Lessons page and contact me about setting up a time. I work with players of all ages and currently have students from various American League, National League, Major League and Junior League teams at MPTLL.

Congrats to Major League Co-Champs

Congratulations to 2011 Major League Co-Champions Carolina Pad and Christ Church. Both teams won their games on the final day of the regular season to finish tied for first place at 12-2. Congrats on an outstanding season by both teams.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Big Weekend of Games at Randolph Park

Three Major League teams will be playing for a league championship on Saturday. After beating Cameron Harris on Wednesday, Christ Church is tied for first place heading into the final day of the regular season at 11-2. They will play Al Browne at 10:00 am on Wade Field.

Carolina Pad, which defeated Regions Bank on Wednesday, also sits at 11-2. They will play Trinity immediately following the CC-AB game.

For Christ Church and Pad, a win earns them at least a share of the Major League title. Cameron Harris is now a game back at 10-3, and must win and rely on both CC and CP losses in order to gain a piece of a 3-way shared championship. Best of luck to these teams, who have all had great seasons.

In the National League and American League, their end-of-season tournaments will begin on Saturday in a single elimination format. Congratulations to NL regular season champ, T.R. Lawing Realty, and AL regular season champ, JE Dunn Construction. Best of luck to all the teams in tournament play.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Analysis of a Youth Sports Social Experiment

The Sports Letter blog recently interviewed Doug Merlino, author of the book, The Hustle: One Team and Ten Lives in Black and White. In the book, Merlino has followed up on a social experiment he was a part of while in the 8th grade in 1986, in which his basketball team was created specifically to mix players from different racial and socio-economic backgrounds.

I found this interesting because of some general similarities to our own league. We are not a social experiment, but we do have a healthy variety of families.

Merlino says that in order for kids to truly benefit long term from such an experience, it must extend from the playing field into other areas of life. He says, "We went to play basketball because we liked to do it.  In that sense, it was very useful in bringing these two different cultures together. On the other hand, if things are just about what's happening on the court, you can start to fool yourself.  If you say, it's integrated on the court, therefore everything's fine, you're missing something.  As I point out in the book, sports has its limitations."

Updated All-Star Dates

District 3 has confirmed the following dates for this summer:

All-Star Practices Begin - June 6, 2011

Tournament of Champions - June 18, 2011

District 3 Tournaments - July 9, 2011

9-Year-Old NC State Invitational Tournament - July 16, 2011 - Dilworth LL

9-10-Year-Old NC State Tournament - July 16, 2011 - Transylvania County LL

10-11-Year-Old NC State Tournament - July 16, 2011 - Wilson LL

11-12-Year-Old NC State Tournament - July 23, 2011 - Cherryville LL

Click here for more information regarding our All-Star program.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Three Teams Tied Atop Major League Standings

The MPTLL Major League pennant race is poised for another fantastic finish. After Christ Church's win over Carolina Pad on Saturday, there is a three-way tie for first place heading into the final week of the season. With two games to play, Christ Church, Carolina Pad and Cameron Harris are all knotted up at 10-2.

Pad is hoping to repeat as league champion after sharing the title with Al Browne in 2010. Cameron Harris last won the league in 2003 when it tied with Harry & Bryant.  And Christ Church is looking for its first title since winning back-to-back championships in 2001 and 2002.

It should be an exciting week of baseball. All three teams will play under the lights on Wednesday night at 7:30 pm:

Christ Church vs. Cameron Harris on Founders Field
Carolina Pad vs. Regions Bank on Wade Field.

Best of luck to these teams. Check out the Current Standings and Historical Standings pages above for more information.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

MPTLL History Project: 1953

1953 Champion Hotpoint Team
 After chartering with Little League and starting play in 1952, the Myers Park Civitan League went through some changes in its second season. With the popularity of youth baseball spreading in Charlotte in 1953, the Dilworth League was created, and the existing leagues introduced farm teams. This was the birth of our Minor League division, and the predecessor of what we now call at Myers Park the National League.

There was also a change of Major League sponsors. Al Browne's Service, which had been one of the original teams the year before, became one of the first farm teams in 1953. The returning major league players from Al Browne's became the original Hotpoint team. Al would continue to sponsor a farm team until returning to the Major League Division in 1961 and taking over the returning Farmers Dairy team.

1953 was a hard fought season. As usual there were several newspaper clippings to report on all the action. You might see some familiar names. I did.

And best of all, as you can see in this first-hand account from former Al Browne and Hotpoint player, Barrow Mullis, Hotpoint won the league championship after some wild games and a little controversy over at Farmers Dairy. Hotpoint was the champ in its first year as a sponsor, and by temporarily changing its sponsorship to a farm team, Al Browne would wait 53 years before capturing its first league title.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Playing Catch With a Purpose

I read a good post at The Pitching Academy about the benefits of throwing often when done with a purpose. Baseball is fun, and it's fun to just go out a throw the ball around. But when teams are warming up for practice, players - especially pitchers - can gain a lot from working on their mechanics.

Far too often I see a kids that have been taught to pitch or throw correctly, some by me, go out and warm up for practice with poor mechanics - not closing up, glove flying out, no follow through. They get nothing out of those ten minutes other than getting their arm loose. But if they would focus on what they're doing during that time like they would the rest of practice, they could improve their arm strength, their mechanics, their control, their various fastballs and their changeup or other offspeed pitches.

Mechanics can be learned at an early age. Once players get in the habit of throwing correctly, they'll never lose that skill. It's like riding a bike. But until the good habits fully take over, players will continue to fight against the bad habits on the mound and in the field. If they don't close the shoulder, or tuck the glove, etc., during those 30 throws before practice, how can we expect them to do it in a game?

And that changeup grip takes months, if not years, to get comfortable with. Pitchers who practice it during long toss or while cooling down can speed up that time significantly. Play "catch" with a purpose and some focus and the progress will show.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Recommended Reading for Serious Pitchers

Here's a link to a NY Times article on Harvey Dorfman, former MLB "Mental Performance Coach" who helped the careers of countless pro baseball players. Dorfman lived in North Carolina at the time of his death in February. He authored one of my favorite baseball books, The Mental ABC's of Pitching, which is guide to controlling your thoughts and emotions as a pitcher. I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

All-Star Information

Availability forms for 9, 10, 11 and 12-year-old All-Star participation will be distributed soon. The All-Star, or Tournament Season, begins in early June, and team selection will take place just prior to our regular season closing day. Teams will be announced after closing ceremonies. There is some general information regarding the MPTLL All-Star Program on the league website. Here are more details:

All-Star teams are selected by a vote of the coaches. The 9-year-old team is selected by the National League (NL) coaches and players will come from the NL. The others are selected by the Major League coaches. 10 and 11-year-olds may come from the NL or Major League divisions. 12-year-olds must come from the Major League division. Each team may cast one ballot per age group.

Monday, May 2, 2011

No Hands, No Arms, No Problem

This is impressive. Check out how Tom Willis throws out the first pitch at Dodger Stadium with no hands or arms. An inspiration indeed.

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Root of Big League Arm Trouble

I just read an important blog post by Eric Cressey of Cressey Performance about the importance of limiting the amount of pitching by youth baseball players: Your Arm Hurts? Thank Your Little League, AAU and Fall Ball Coaches.

This is another strong warning to coaches and parents that the high school, college and professional pitchers that end up having arm surgery are often the ones that threw too much at a younger age. Many times the damage is done earlier in their careers, even though the pitcher may not feel any pain until years later.

As Cressy reminds us, pitching a baseball overhand is a violent, fast, unnatural act. Unless you're this guy, your arms hang down and your shoulders are rounded. Throwing underhand is more natural for the human body.

Throwing overhand is a complex motion. There's a lot that can go wrong over time. That's why we need to ensure that our youth pitchers are taught proper mechanics. And we have to be careful that they don't throw too many pitches, and see that they get enough rest, both between outings and during various shut-down periods throughout the year.

Cressey stresses the importance of strength training and playing other sports. Kids need to develop their overall athleticism and strength, and should not specialize in one sport until their late teenage years, if then.

Little League pitch count regulations are beneficial to protecting young arms. But they don't prevent a player from participating on multiple teams. And not every 11- and 12-year-old can handle 85+ pitches in a game. The doctors that Little League consulted when that number was put in place recommended less. So it is up to coaches and parents set the rules. Just because a kid loves to pitch, it doesn't mean he should always push himself to the limit.

Here again is the link to the article. If you are a coach or a parent of a pitcher, I recommend taking a couple of minutes to read it.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

MPTLL Alumni Notes

Check out today's South Charlotte News in the Observer for an article on the pitching of Charlotte Country Day senior Lee Harrison (left) and his teammate, William Frazier. Lee played for the Regions Bank team at MPTLL and will attend Cushing Academy in Massachusetts next year in preparation for playing either baseball or football in college.

There is an article in the Matthews-Mint Hill Weekly about the second-year Queens Grant High School baseball team, which is led in batting by former Al Browne player David McGoldrick.

And you can check out the latest Charlotte Observer high school baseball statistics to see Harrison, McGoldrick and Colin Walls (AB) leading the area in several categories.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Slow, Perfect Pace of Little League

Here's a good article from Delaware Online by Jason Levine about the atmosphere of a Little League park. His league happens to be in Delaware, but it really could be anywhere. As Levine says, "When I'm at a Little League game or practice, I don't want to go home." I think there are a lot of people at MP that can identify with that feeling. That's why on a nice spring Saturday, many of us stay all day.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The History of Metal

With all the talk going on this year about the safety issues surrounding composite metal bats, I found this article on the history of aluminum bats interesting. The quality of these bats has come a long way since they were first introduced in 1970 - from the hunk-o-metal I used while playing on our fields, to the lightweight alloys and composites of today with a nearly can't-miss sweet spot. Enjoy...

Sunday, April 17, 2011

2011 Jack Sink Invitational at Myers Park High School

If you're looking for some quality high school baseball during spring break, head over to Myers Park High School this week for the annual Jack Sink Invitational Tournament. It's public schools versus private schools, including some of the very best in the state. You will see loads of MPTLL alumni and some great games. The Country Day vs. Providence game on Thursday could be pretty special. The schedule is below:





Friday, April 15, 2011

Challenge Tournaments This Weekend

There are no regular season MPTLL games this weekend because of CMS Spring Break, but several of the Myers Park Challenge teams will have tournaments at various locations. If you would like to support these teams and catch a game or two, check out the schedules linked below. Information regarding rainouts or schedule changes for the 12's, 9's and 8's can be found here. For the 10's check here.

12U Ferguson  -  MARA (Matthews)
10U Heaton  -  MP Tigers  -  Nevin Park
9U Hodges  -  MP Braves  -  MARA
9U Wade  -  MP Warriors  -  Steele Creek
8U Bray  -  MP Cougars  -  MARA
8U Brietz  -  MP Mavericks  -  MARA (same as above)

Monday, April 11, 2011

No Pepper Games.... No Wall Ball

"Wall Ball" has been banned at Billy's Building at the center of the park. Sorry boys, you'll need to find a safer spot to play. Too many black eyes, blows below the belt and frightened grandmothers. Maybe there's another wall out there somewhere....

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Albert Pujols: Hall of Famer On and Off the Field

60 Minutes will be running a story on Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals tonight at 7:00 on CBS. Widely considered to be the best player in the game and a sure-fire Hall of Famer, Pujols has also made a tremendous impact on the lives of thousands of people in need. He is passionate about helping both the poor people of his native Dominican Republic and those, like his own daughter, born with Down Syndrome.

This guy is the real deal. He is a role model both on the field and off the field.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Dynamic Stretching for Baseball and Softball

Unless we seek out new information, youth coaches tend to do things the same way it was done "back in the day." Passing down the knowledge we have gained from years of experience is often beneficial to our players.

But a large part of instructing youth baseball and softball players is based on health and science. And when it comes to health and science, you don't want to be passing down information that is decades old.

One aspect of youth sports that has changed since we were playing is stretching. Doctors and researchers say there's more to it now than just tugging at a particular muscle for 20 seconds (static stretching). These days, dynamic stretching, or stretching while moving, is considered to be more beneficial for athletes preparing to play while reducing the risk of injury.

Here are a couple of good articles on dynamic stretching:

First is a Mom's Team article about the proper way to warm up for athletic competition - light aerobic exercise followed by dynamic stretching. The article goes on to say that static stretching is not only without benefit, but can also weaken muscles.

And here is an article by Yankees strength and conditioning coach, Dana Cavalea, about the goal of dynamic stretching - to get moving and activate the nervous system and muscle groups, not only single muscles.

To see some dynamic stretching in action, below is a video of the 2009 Wake Forest baseball team preparing to play. This was actually followed by another clip of the same team going through a static stretching routine. So they have not abandoned it altogether.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Picture Day Is This Saturday, April 9th

Team and individual pictures will be taken this Saturday, April 9th, for those teams with games at Randolph Park. Here is the schedule with each team's assigned picture time and more info. Teams not playing that day or needing a make-up picture will be given a time slot prior to their weekday game, April 11-14th. After the 14th, there will be no more pictures taken.

The picture location will be near the batting cages at the center of the upper fields. Please have your team dressed and ready prior to your scheduled time.

The league will provide an 8"x10" team picture to all players at no additional cost. For those families wanting to purchase individual pictures, order envelopes have been given to the coaches for distribution.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Hodges Hurls No-Hitter For Trinity

A busy weekend of games produced a performance to be remembered. Jackson Hodges pitched a no-hitter on Sunday as Trinity defeated Regions Bank. Hodges struck out five and walked one, but faced the minimum number of batters, thanks to a double-play. He threw just 58 pitches in six innings, which is said to be the fewest in a complete game at MPTLL in 43 years. Hodges went 2 for 5 at the plate with 4 RBI. Trinity is 2-1 and a game out of 1st place behind Christ Church and Cameron Harris, who are tied at 3-0.

There were 40 league games this weekend, including 21 makeup games on Sunday. After several days of rain, we are back on schedule as we get into April.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Nutrition for Youth Ball Players

The postgame snack schedules are just about set now. Team Moms across the league probably know who is responsible for every game of the season. But take time to consider what types of food we should be giving out to our kids at the park.

Here is one article on nutrition for youth ball players. It lists five basic nutritional facts to teach our young athletes:

1. Protein allows the body to build muscle and enhance strength.
2. Carbohydrates provide energy. Complex carbohydrates are best for longer lasting energy.
3. Certain types of foods provide more protein.
4. Processed foods are generally less healthy than unprocessed, fresh foods.
5. Eating more, but smaller meals, is considered by many to be healthier.

Sometimes the right choices don't come in individual snack bags. And consider also how much energy is required to play a T-Ball game. Sometimes the calories after the game might outweigh the ones burned during the game.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Rain Shortened Opening Day In the Books

Cold rain put a damper on Opening Day 2011, but at least we got Opening Ceremonies in. The 9:00 and 12:00 games were played before things got too bad. The remaining afternoon games were postponed to a later date.

In Major League action, Harry & Bryant beat Al Browne, Trinity beat Bryant Supply and Christ Church beat Regions Bank. Not sure about the NL and AL games. If the league coordinators want me to post standings, please copy me on those announcements throughout the season.