Youngsters break camp, fix sights on league games

KIDS' CORNER

July 31, 1994|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,Contributing Writer

The report card is in, and the results are mixed.

As the baseball camp season winds down, Yankee Rebels president Joseph Palmer said he has noticed a distinct difference between kids today with kids five years ago.

Palmer, who conducted nine camps this summer for boys 6-17 years old, said that kids today don't have great baseball skills because of a lack of dedication.

"If I challenge a kid like I did five or 10 years ago, he walks away," said Palmer, who has coached baseball in the area for 25 years. "They want everything with a snap of a finger and don't want to work for it. It's mainly because parents put their kids on a pedestal, and the kids then think they don't have to practice the skills part of the game."

Maryland coach Tom Bradley, who has run a baseball camp at College Park for the past four years, said he hasn't seen a large difference.

"I think in the first couple of weeks, the kids are at a higher skill level than in the past," Bradley said. "I don't think the overall talent is up or down though."

Beyond Little League, kids who want to learn the game have a better chance to succeed than purely talented players who don't work at it. Palmer knows this path for success by experience.

"People wonder how a scrawny kid like Dave Johnson [from Middle River] made it to the major leagues," Palmer said. "He made it with hard work and by gaining baseball skills. All you need to do is be willing to work."

Palmer said some kids want to play games more than they want to learn the game. For that reason, more kids now are choosing to play in summer leagues than joining baseball camps.

"Kids don't realize that no one is going to remember who won yesterday's game," Palmer said.

"They are focused on the winning and losing part of the game, but they can put that time into developing skills that will help them in the future."

Bradley is impressed by how hard kids work at camps.

"The kids that come to our camps are out there seven hours, five days a week," he said. "It's not like they are just out there running around for a couple of hours."

Palmer predicts that a result of kids going to summer leagues instead of camps will be a decline in players' skills. The first area to be affected is hitting, usually the hardest skill to master.

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