One Player’s Journey from Little League to College Baseball (The Beginning)

Making it onto a college baseball program and staying with it for all 4 years is not easy. Playing high school baseball also has its challenges.

Want to know what it takes?

I’ve been curious myself about what it takes and how it works to play baseball all the way from Little League to college. I’m curious because my own 12-year-old son has been telling me since the age of 2 that he wants to become a professional baseball player. It’s an improbable dream. But it’s a dream that may be shared by over a million kids at any given time.

Though I’ve learned bits and pieces about playing baseball at the higher levels over the years, it wasn’t until I read a very detailed chronicle of one player’s journey that it all began to make sense. This player, who I shall call Leo, is a talented and hard-working baseball player. Leo made it all the way from Little League to college baseball.

The hard way.

The baseball journey can be hard
Image courtesy of Robert Montenegro at

This is part 1 of my retelling of the story of Leo’s journey from Little League to College Baseball.

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New USABat Standard Coming in 2018 for Youth Baseball Bats

In January 2018, many youth baseball players will need to buy a new bat with the USABat standard. Here are the details, starting with facts, moving on to advice, and ending with opinions about this change.


I interviewed several authorities for this article, including Russell Hartford, who is the “bat guy” at USA baseball, in addition to his role as Director of National Team Championships.

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Youth Baseball Stats Part 4: Moving to a Bigger Field Changes Everything

The stats that matter most for youth baseball change as kids age. You’ll want to first read Part 3 of the youth baseball stats series if you want to get the most out of Part 4:

Part 1: It’s Hard – how to gather, interpret and apply baseball data to improve youth baseball play

Part 2: Appropriate coach pitch stats – ages 7-8

Part 3: Appropriate kid pitch stats – ages 9-10

This post discusses the stats that matter when kids move to the bigger 50/70 field and the full rules of baseball begin. In our PONY league, this starts with the Bronco division, ages 11-12. Continue reading “Youth Baseball Stats Part 4: Moving to a Bigger Field Changes Everything”

What Does Drop Mean for Youth Baseball Bats?

Drop -12.5 prominently displayed on Louisville Slugger bat

Bat drop is printed weight, in ounces, minus printed length, in inches. For example, a bat labeled 13.5 ounces and 26 inches has a bat drop of minus 12.5 (13.5-26 = -12.5).

To get the right bat, you just need to match the right drop, weight, and length printed on the bat to the age, height, and weight of the player.

It’s that simple, right?


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Preparing for 100,000 Page Views per Month

Once every year or so, I get obsessed with making improvements to my site. Last year it was modernizing and customizing my WordPress theme. This time, it’s:

  • Better hosting (more reliable, much faster)
  • SSL (greater security, even faster)

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Best 5 Strategy Board Games for Families

The typical U.S. family has a deck of cards and a few games in the closet. Most have heard of few, if any, of the best family games to come out in recent years. This is too bad, because quite a few of these games are far more fun and interesting than just about every game invented before 1995.

5 best family strategy games
5 Great Family Strategy Games
(latest editions may look different from pictured games)
Ticket to Ride, Catan, Pandemic, Stone Age, and Dominion

This article profiles 5 modern strategy games that are terrific for the whole family, including ours.

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Stone Age Review: A Great Family Game that is not Primitive

Imagine you are the leader of a Stone Age tribe. To survive and prosper, your tribe must hunt for food, develop agriculture, gather resources, make and use tools, construct buildings, raise children, and develop civilization. If your tribe doesn’t strike the right balance, your people may starve, or may be surpassed by neighboring tribes.

You can experience all this with a game I strongly recommend for families:

Stone Age

2016-07-22 08.22.46

Many modern games attempt to have some kind of theme. However, you know a theme is not transporting you to another time and place when you think primarily about optimizing efficient placement of colored cubes. That pretty much sums up many modern “Euro” games: Place colored cubes efficiently.

When we play Stone Age, the board components and graphics combine beautifully with game mechanics to immerse us in a way that’s rare for a board game. We feed people, we gather wood, we build buildings . . . And if our people don’t eat, they starve. It even comes with a dice-rolling cup made of rawhide. Please pass the stinky cup!

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Dominion Review: Great Game for Busy Families

All my life I’ve loved board and card games. I’m therefore often asked for recommendations. My busy sister Anita (owner/operator of The Flying Squirrel Bakery Café), recently asked:

Can you recommend a good, quick game? We like Monopoly, but it takes too long. We want something that’s easy to learn and play that also has strategy and variety.

My recommendation:

Dominion: Big Box

Dominion, Prosperity, and Alchemy are included in the Big Box

Dominion, which often takes less than 30 minutes to play, fits my sister’s criteria well. If I were to recommend a family collection of fewer than 10 board or card games to own, this would be one of them. It would be my top pick for very busy households.

The rest of this review combines two articles into one:

  • Description of Dominion’s game play and what makes it so good for such a wide variety of families
  • Basic and advanced Dominion strategy

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Can You Teach Hustle in Youth Baseball? Yes!

Hustle. We’ve all seen that player who hustles, always running top speed to first base, going all out to catch far away fly balls, diving for grounders, backing up, doing their best to catch poor throws, etc.

Sliding into Home
Base runner hustles home on a passed ball
(photo by John Walter)

And we’ve all seen the opposite . . . players who rarely run hard, never attempt to make a difficult play, and exert little effort all around when they don’t have a bat in their hands.

In my experience, most kids try hard when they’re first learning baseball or any other new sport. In our local PONY league, I’ve seen strong effort from all but 1 or 2 players on every team my son has been on through the age of 10. Sometimes they don’t know at first what they’re supposed to do or where they’re supposed to go. But drill it, and then they’ll do it.

However, something shifts at the Bronco 11-12 age level. With most players having played at least 4 years of baseball, some stop trying as hard to improve, while others mark time until the start of the “real” season, summer all-stars or travel ball. Maybe some of it is age-related, as kids begin to challenge authority and become more independent.

End result: lack of hustle.

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Key Youth Baseball Decisions for Parents: Money, Time, and Beyond

The financial costs of youth baseball can easily spiral out of control, so I’ve been itching to write about it. A single season of recreational league fees, equipment, clothes, fundraisers, and other costs can total anywhere between $150 – $2500/year, while costs and time commitment can run far higher for travel ball teams. Much of this information is covered below.

While this article is based on my experience with 7- to 12-year-olds, most of these costs apply to other ages as well. Figure on spending about half as much for ages 5 and 6, and a bit more for teenagers who also pay for showcases and BBCOR bats.

As I started to write about cost, I realized that decisions over whether to do 8 vs. 5 months of baseball per year or spend $300 or $50 on a bat are minor in comparison with more fundamental decisions that need to be made at a relatively early age.

This post details the time and money it takes for kids in the U.S. to play youth baseball in various ways. But it goes beyond cost to also highlight and discuss more fundamental decisions that need to be made when considering how best to approach this all-consuming sport.

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