Sonny Fulks
Sonny Fulks
Managing Editor

Sonny Fulks is a graduate of Ohio State University and pitched four varsity seasons for the Buckeye baseball team from 1971 through 1974.  He furthered his baseball experience as a minor league league umpire for seven years, working in the Florida State League (A), the Southern League (AA), and the American Association (AAA).  He has written for numerous websites and outdoor publications, and for the past ten years has served as a regular columnist and photo editor for Gettysburg Magazine, published by the University of Nebraska Press.  Widely knowledgeable on that period of American History, Fulks is a frequent speaker on the Civil War at local roundtables throughout the Midwest. He and wife Mindy have two grown children and live in Covington, Ohio.

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With baseball starting next week, the emails have never been more brisk on the topic of competition, winning, and why more kids, perhaps, aren’t playing high school baseball.

I continue to marvel at the nerve touched, apparently, with our recent column about winning and the lack of competitive alternatives – all the ancillary issues and comments we’ve received since, relative to kids participating in sports.

People are sending quotes, like the one we shared this week from South Carolina basketball coach Frank Martin.

And given that area high school baseball begins next week on Press Pros, three different sources have shared the viral video of Louisiana-Lafayette head baseball coach Tony Robichaux, talking about why kids don’t play high school baseball like they used to.

In this two-minute post Robichaux minces no words.  He plainly lays it out that we’ve spoiled an entire generation of would-be baseballers at a young age by promising them participation and playing time through a sense of entitlement – entitlement that goes away as they climb to more significant levels of competition.

I’ve embedded a portion of the video as evidence.  1) For those who believe that you’re simply making stuff up when you dare to say that Johnny doesn’t work hard enough to be successful.

2) That Johnny doesn’t need to work to be successful during his formative years, because after all Johnny just a kid and a kid should have all the fun he can have…while he’s a kid.

3) As evidence that after you’ve brainwashed kids to believe that winning isn’t all that important – not as important as having a good handshake and a smile after the game – there is no consequence to that when they go on to college and try to play at that level.  There, winning really is important to coaches whose reputations and futures are tied to their winning percentage.  Meaning, that if you don’t contribute to their success…they don’t need you.

In the case of Robichaux he takes on the question as to how “select” baseball, or teams made up of select players for summer-travel league competition, is rusting the pipeline of development for adolescents learning to be competitive in the game.  He calls it “Daddy Ball”, and his point is…that if you’re guaranteed playing time you lose the edge to “work”, improve, and “earn” playing time, and eventually, success.

It also means that a lot of kids who can’t afford “select” baseball are left at home, where, they can either wither, or play in the diminishing sphere of American Legion and Acme leagues.  But even then they’re led to believe they’re not as good as those playing on…the “select” teams.

But read on.  The good news is that the curveball is just as tough to hit for “select” players as it is for Acme players.  So if you’re playing at home this summer, work on perfecting your execution at whatever position, and whatever level you play.  Good is good, regardless.

I found that out once for myself, and I know countless others, like Heath Murray and Jared Hoying, who never played “Daddy Ball” in their life.  They grew up playing Little League, high school, and Legion baseball.  It then led to the University of Michigan, the University of Toledo, and eventually the big leagues.

They just kept working and getting better.  The only ‘select’ that mattered…was when they got drafted!

Learn from the video.  You can’t make this stuff up.

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