The contents of this guidebook have been driven by the needs of coaches, administrators and parents in the teaching of baseball to the 5-8 age group. These are interested factions with limited experience in teaching children 5-8 years of age. Dale and Dan have interviewed numerous experts in the medical, education and coaching fields who have given valid answers to questions asked about the sport of baseball. Some of the findings obtained have been included. There is a tear out section for this group of the baseball community to keep track of important information. Dan and Dale’s “Baseball Essentials” and a baseball language suited to the age group have been initiated to assist coaches and parents from the beginning of the young persons’ playing experience through senior baseball to have a common curriculum. There is a huge vocabulary and necessary playing components area out there but none put in a graduated international curricular form. This is the first handbook of a five-book series to tackle this missing link.
Until the 1940s everyone followed one rule book and that was the book used by the professional leagues. Through the middle of the 20th century it was one coach or manager per team. All towns had one town (semi pro) and one high school team. Youth teams younger than high school age did not get their start until after World War II. Clinics and camps were nonexistent as well.
Major League baseball players were unable to get into the coaching and teaching at these lower levels. Teaching skills were seldom passed on. At the 5 to 8 age level expertise at the kindergarten age had not even set into schools. Today it is difficult to find good teachers at this level let alone someone who can coach.
Over the (post WW2 years) Dale noticed a need for baseball instruction geared for young people, coaching that would give them basic skills for a solid foundation. During his world travels, he saw that baseball was taken in a resolute manner and that the teaching of professionally experienced fundamentals was given priority. Yet in America, the birthplace of the sport, coaches of youth programs had no basic curriculum to sequentially teach them. (from the Tee ballers to professional)
The belief that there was a lot of coaching and teaching going on simply was not the case. Camps and clinics were the pioneers in breaking the game down to those who wanted to learn more for their team and themselves.
Times have changed considerably. Today, one has to be an astute parent to direct their child to the proper team, recognize a quality coach, the cost out of pocket to play on a select team, etc. There are many other variables that will be covered in this book Baseball the Pro Way, in first Learning to Throw, Field and Catch and those to follow, Pitching and Catching guidebooks 2 through 5.
Dale needed a co-author with an equal love for the game to help him brainstorm ideas for the book. He tapped into the expertise of Dan Spillner, a former major league pitcher with the San Diego Padres, Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox. In Chicago, Dan’s closest teammate was Hall of Famer Tom Seaver. Dan served as pitching coach with the Everett Giants, a San Francisco minor league club. With a former Padre pitcher, Randy Jones, he conducted camps and clinics for youth throughout the Pacific rim. Then for a number of years he ran the pitching portion of David Henderson’s Ball Yard in Bellevue, Wash. and coached a high school team.
Together Dan and Dale developed this book. Can a 5-8 year old learn to throw, field and play the professional way? Especially with muscle memory not setting in until around 8 years of age. This and some of the teaching evolution of baseball since World War I is seen through co-author Dale Parker’s eyes in the prologue.