Author: Coach Smith 23

WELL ROUNDED or WELL TRAVELED, be thankful for Legion Baseball

20150708_220728-1Baseball, it’s the ultimate team sport combining individual and team skills. A well-rounded baseball player that possesses high baseball IQ will compete with every pitch to help his team succeed. Unfortunately, today’s youth game seems to be changing at a rapid pace. Individual play is taking over and team baseball seems to be taking punches like a Rocky Balboa side of beef.

Hold onto your hats, the culprit may in fact be Club Baseball. You’ve seen it before, club coaches absorb and pluck players from leagues with the lure of travel, exposure, and the promise of college scholarships at a very early age. Parents love to hear that someone can make their son the next Bryce Harper or Randy Johnson. What the club doesn’t mention is that the team aspect of baseball isn’t being taught as it once was. Most of these club coaches know the game very well. However big money is now at stake and teaching team skills takes a back seat to bringing in money so the club has enough cash for operating expenses. This approach only helps the club make money and in no way helps one to become a well-rounded baseball player. Flawed at its core, parents flock to club teams in droves.

For my player, I decided against club baseball. I kept my son with a great youth coach and played Legion baseball during summers during his high school years. I knew that teaching all aspects of the game would be beneficial to him as a baseball player. I didn’t want his development to be limited to only hitting or pitching. But don’t take my word for it. Check out any high level showcase tournament featuring a majority of club teams. The team aspect of the game is slowly being washed away and replaced with games only emphasizing individual hitting and pitching skills. See if you can find a club coached team executing a sacrifice bunt, a defensive play to prevent a bunt, hit & run, or good base running techniques. It’s very difficult to find these skills being taught and used within the club baseball community. In fact get ready for the opposing coach to take offense and start acting a fool, should you try to execute one of these horrific outdated skills. Because after all, who bunts with a runner on first base with no outs in the bottom of the last inning?

Legion baseball is still a great option for those who want to play baseball and continue to learn the game. Actually it’s time we spread the word. You can be proud you and your player participate in Legion baseball. Don’t get caught up in all the club hype; it’s overrated to say the least. Legion baseball is much more cost effective than club baseball. There is a sense of community pride. There are coaches that teach the game of baseball not because they get paid to coach, but because they love the game. You actually have a “home” field….and you might even help your son to become a baseball player that helps his TEAM win.

Written by Eric Mertes

Parent of Nic Mertes Rockhurst University & Fike player from 2012-2016


Fike Coaching Staff Attends ABCA 2017


January 5th through the 8th the Fike Coaching Staff will attend the ABCA (American Baseball Coaches Association) convention in Anaheim CA.  This is “Continuing Education” for Baseball Coaches.  Jim Moran, Doug Lohman, Dave Benson Matt Hagerty and Robert Smith will be in attendance this year representing Fike Post 499 Baseball.

Four days of non-stop baseball are on deck once again in the first week of January!

The 2016 convention in Nashville was the largest ever with over 5,600 coaches registered and more than 330 companies in the ABCA Trade Show. We’re expecting a great crowd once again in Southern California.

Meetings, clinics, the ABCA Trade Show as well as several awards presentations and honors will highlight the 2017 Convention. Activities begin in full force on Thursday, Jan. 5, including committee and divisional meetings as well as the first day of the ABCA Trade Show and the all-new Expo Theater.

Second Vice President Rich Maloney (Ball State University) and Third Vice President John Kolasinski (Siena Heights University) have arranged an outstanding lineup of clinic speakers beginning Friday morning.

At the ABCA Trade Show, over 300 companies will be on hand to display state-of-the-art equipment and products, including coaching aids, apparel, field equipment, pitching machines and software. We have already heard about many new products that will be released at the ABCA Trade Show.

Two of the most prestigious events are the ABCA/Diamond Hall of Fame/Coach of the Year Banquet, which will be held on Friday at 6 p.m., and the ABCA Honors Luncheon, which will be held Saturday at 12:00 p.m.

Ten great coaches will be inducted to the ABCA Hall of Fame this year, along with the presentation of the ABCA/Wilson Lefty Gomez Award and the ABCA/Diamond National Coaches of the Year on Friday. The Honors Luncheon features several other presentations on Saturday.

Committee chairs will contact members regarding time and place of meetings, mostly held on Thursday afternoon. All divisional business meetings will take place on Thursday evening. ABCA members may contact their division’s chair regarding legislation. The ABCA Executive Committee and Board of Directors each meet twice at the convention.

For those who bring families or extend your stay for some vacation time, Disneyland is just a hop, skip and a jump from the Anaheim Convention Center and there is a discount for ABCA Convention attendees, which you will receive in your confirmation email. We have family activities listed at

Now is the time to make plans for Anaheim! Register quickly and easily online, by phone or by mailing in the form. The Advanced Registration rate of $90 runs through Jan. 4!

Thursday, January 5, 2017
10:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m. Member Registration & Check In
1:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m. Committee Meetings
1:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m. ABCA Trade Show
2:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m. Expo Theater Presentations
6:30 p.m.-9:00 p.m. Coaches’ Divisional Meetings
9:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m. Rookie Coaches Mentorship Meeting
Friday, January 6, 2017
7:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Member Registration & Check In
8:15 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Clinics presented by Wilson/ATEC
9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. ABCA Trade Show
9:30 a.m.-11:00 a.m. Spouses Breakfast
10:00 a.m.-4:15 p.m. Expo Theater Presentations
6:00 p.m.-9:30 p.m. Hall of Fame/Coach of the Year Banquet presented by Diamond Sports
Presenting Lefty Gomez Award | Hall of Fame | Coaches of the Year
Saturday, January 7, 2017
7:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. Member Registration & Check In
8:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m. Clinics presented by Wilson/ATEC
9:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. ABCA Trade Show
10:00 a.m.-1:45 p.m. Expo Theater Presentations
12:00 p.m.-1:45 p.m. Honors Luncheon presented by Diamond Kinetics
Presenting: Asst. Coach of Year | Meritorious Service | Honor Award
1:45 p.m.-6:30 p.m. Clinics presented by Wilson/ATEC
7:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. Pitching “Hot Stove” Discussion
7:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. Hitting “Hot Stove” Discussion
9:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m. Rookie Coaches Mentorship Meeting
Sunday, January 8, 2017
8:30 a.m.-11:10 a.m. Clinics presented by Wilson/ATEC