May 26, 2019

I went back to school last week — baseball school, that is — and what a time I had.

Considering this winter’s dangerous snowstorms, it was time to hear the bat hit the ball, smell the old glove and put on a baseball cap.

At the University of Maine field house last week and this week co-directors Jim Walsh and Dennis Kiah are running their annual Baseball School. This is the third year of the program, and the record number of participants — 80 enrolled at this writing — is an indication that the idea of baseball indoors is catching on locally.

Last week the senior division, comprising players in grades nine-12, participated in activities ranging from pitching and catching to running the bases and bunting. This week, boys in grades five-eight occupy the spacious field house, hoping to come away with that extra edge as they prepare for their seasons.

Walsh and Kiah are no strangers to baseball instruction. They are former successful head coaches. They again have assembled a fine staff to aid their fundamental approach to the game.

Coaches such as Dennis Damon, former Mount Desert Island High School varsity baseball coach, Jim DiFrederico, former Nokomis High School varsity baseball coach, Doug Carville, former University of Maine assistant coach, and Dr. Tom Vanidestine, former slugger for the Black Bears, follow the path of the co-directors by preaching the importance of fundamentals.

At $40 per player per week, the Baseball School is a bargain for its participants.

“I’ve attended enough camps as a player and as a coach to know what I want in a camp,” said Walsh. “The Baseball School is a great opportunity for these kids. The facility is a great one, and each kid will come away with something positive about the game and, hopefully, about himself.”

Daily sessions are split into three units including fundamentals, hitting and base-running. Campers move to different stations when Walsh and Kiah give a blast on their unpopular but effective air horn.

“These kids are getting 100 swings a day or so,” said Walsh.

From this corner, the trip to Orono to witness the Baseball School was well worth the snowy ride. Any program that Dennis Kiah and Jim Walsh lend their names to is bound to succeed.

Those interested in information about next year’s school may write: The Baseball School, 250 Husson Ave., 1E, Bangor 04401.

30-Second Timeout: Chairman Lionel Bishop of Old Town High School and the other members of the Eastern Maine Class A Basketball Committee are to be commended for postponing last Saturday’s state championship basketball games in Bangor.

The weather forecasters hit this storm right on the button. Bishop showed courage and intelligence on Friday in moving the games ahead to Wednesday night. Such a decision is never popular until the snow actually flies.

Ron Brown is a free-lance writer and high school basketball coach who lives in Bangor.

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