When We Next Take the Field – Rejoice!

When We Next Take the Field – Rejoice!

Diamonds Await A Return to Baseball

Winter Workouts Done – On To Spring

Winter Workouts Done – On To Spring

Harvard & BC Workouts - Big Success

Ruffnecks – The Game We Teach

Ruffnecks – The Game We Teach

Are we teaching Baseball as it is no longer played?

Ruffnecks – The Game We Teach

The year is 2020, and quakes and tremors in Major League Baseball awaken us.  We are shaken to consider and question several things about our game and national pastime.  What game we are teaching to Ruffnecks players from 13 years old to 18 years old?  Do we teach the game the way it is no longer played?  Is it even the national pastime anymore?  Let us begin by examining what the Ruffnecks program is doing in the coming months.

Winter Workouts Begin in February

Harvard Bubble

The Ruffnecks program begins it organizational Winter Workouts in February.  For our players, especially the high school players, this is “Spring Training.”  Our sessions are repetition-oriented skill and drill work.  We conduct full field workouts in the spacious facilities of two prestigious Division I programs in New England:  Boston College and Harvard University.  Our sessions begin at 6 o’clock in the morning on Sunday mornings.  Once a week from February to March.  When they are over, our players have a solid, pre-season foundation for the spring high school seasons which begin between the first week of March (for some preps) to the third Monday in March (for public schools).  Along the way, we gather as a program, “kick the dust off,” and get to work on positional preparation and skill work.  Younger Ruffnecks (13U and 14U) integrate into the drill work at the speed and intensity of the older players for several of the sessions.  The 13s and 14s also have their own TEAM session on select Saturdays.  We allocate considerable financial resources to our Winter Workouts.  Some outsiders may believe it is not necessary.  We consider it a cultural and developmental opportunity to do something relevant and special.

Between a dozen and twenty Ruffnecks coaches and adjunct coaches attend our Winter Workouts.  They instruct, hit fungos, banter, and join in the preparation for a baseball season that runs from March until August… almost 6 months.  We have great admiration and respect for the Ruffnecks players who get up early on Sunday mornings (some as early as 4am) to get to Boston College or Harvard to work on baseball skills.  A great many of these athletes play multiple sports, including winter sports.  Some may have had a basketball game or a hockey game on Saturday.  Yet they show up to Sunday workouts.  Inherent in the experience is what college baseball might be like for those who aspire to play at that level: Early morning lifting sessions; early morning or late night practices using indoor facilities; planning schedules around academic obligations.  This is at the heart of the Ruffnecks experience

What We Teach

To Play the Summer Game!

We teach that there is no substitution for regular work and repetitions.  There is no way to get better at the skills required for baseball than by practicing baseball skills.  Of course focused players use strength training, speed training, nutrition, and more to become better, stronger athletes.  But baseball skills are honed by baseball activity. It helps to conduct that activity under the close watch of sound coaches who are willing to work, help, critique, challenge, and more.  What we try to build is a baseball mind-set, a culture where baseball is spoken, observed, and shared.

What else do we teach?  Well everything we do is aimed at building a mindset that baseball success is built on doing little things well.  “Make the routine plays routinely.”  When we get into our seasons we teach to move runners over.  We teach that playing for one run is just as valuable as hitting a 3 run home run because it helps the team in the moment.  We teach that hitting the ball hard is important.  We teach that bunting is good… that there are several ways to score runners from third base with less than two outs… just do your job.


Baseball in general, and our world of youth, travel baseball, is in a state where we must determine what is relevant.  The Major League product is not the game we teach, even though the analytics filter into batting cages, clinics, showcases, and more.  Replay reviews and the slow pace of the MLB game are simply not relevant to what we teach.  Frankly, neither are analytics, though they can be a useful tool.  Umpires are actually pretty fair, and try to be good, so why argue about the strike zone?  Nothing beats a skilled player who “makes the plays.”  The game is supposed to be a great sport to pass the time.  We can play it almost every day (when the weather is good).  We do not need to analyze every aspect of spin or exit velocity.  And we certainly should not be using technology to steal signs.  Picking up signs and sharing with teammates is part of the game, but that leads back to talking, thinking, observing, and understanding the game, opponents’ tendencies, along with doing your part as a player.

So beginning in February, Ruffnecks players will get up early, take reps, get through that pre-season arm soreness, and ready themselves for their school and summer seasons.  For the coaches, it is time to work on fungo calluses and talking the game with the kids who want to be good at it.  We plan to have some fun.

2019 Banquet – Thanksgiving

Alum Paul Campbell

For the 12th consecutive year the Ruffnecks program held its annual Banquet on the Monday prior to Thanksgiving.  The atmosphere was festive, and as usual, it was a full house of 150 at The Fours in Quincy.  The ride to Quincy is always a difficult journey, but the commitment of so many to celebrate an evening with friends and teammates is a source of grateful appreciation for everyone in the program.  The 2019 Banquet featured wonderful talks by three individuals.  New York Yankee scout Matt Hyde, used the example of former Ruffnecks pitching coach Matt Blake in his talk about perseverance and the importance of studying the game.  Coach Blake was recently named the pitching coach of the New York Yankees.  He served the Ruffnecks program for seven years immediately following his college career at Holy Cross.  He also coached with Kirk Fredericks at Lincoln Sudbury HS during the same period.  His impact on the Ruffnecks program and at Lincoln-Sudbury is significant.  His experience at both places, along with his innovative partnership with Cressey Performance, led to an association with Matt Hyde as an associate scout with the Yanks, and then to a job with the Cleveland Indians.

Babson Coach - Matt Noone

The featured speaker this year was Matt Noone, Head Coach of Babson College.  Coach Noone has been at Babson for 17 years, and led his team to the NCAA Division III College World Series in 2019.  Coach Noone’s message centered around his personal relationship with Johnny Pesky and the significance of being a good teammate.  It is the Johnny Pesky Teammate Award that is the highlight of the Banquet evening each year.  It is anxiously awaited and respected.  It is the ONLY award the program hands out or recognizes.  Coach Noone wove a talk about teamwork, teammates, personal stories, illustrations of players who contributed without being in the lineup, and numerous other examples of what truly matters in a team sport such as baseball.  His support of the Ruffnecks program goes all the way back to 2004 when Babson College was considered our “home” field.

Former Ruffneck player and pitcher, Paul Campbell and his father, Alan Campbell also spoke briefly.  Paul is a terrific example of Ruffnecks perseverance, growth, and development.  He is currently a top pitching prospect in the Tampa Bay organization.  He is also a former Johnny Pesky Teammate Award Winner and helped to present this year’s awards.  His dad, Alan, gave a sincere and humorous talk about his experience as a Ruffnecks parent.  It was hilarious!  Of course, the Johnny Pesky Teammate Awards followed the talks, the 2019 video, the meal, and all the banter.  The 13U Teammate Award was earned by Aodhan Lee.  The 14U Teammate Award went to James Henshon (his brother, Mark, earned the distinction in 2017).  The 15U Award went to John Tully.  The 16U Award went to Jesse McCullough who came to the dinner directly from football practice!  And of course, the Seniors were recognized for their fantastic season.  This year there were TWO Senior Johnny Pesky Teammate Awards. Six year Ruffneck, Seamus Barrett (Lousiville commit), earned one recognition.  Five year veteran Richie McNamara (Bowdoin commit) earned the other recognition.  Of course the evening included a shout out for the tremendous, devoted, and instructive coaches at all levels of the program.  Lots to give thanks for!  On to 2020!

The Week Ahead - Notices

(Updated Sunday, April 5)


All 13U & 14U Ruffnecks on-field activity is suspended until further notice.

The NEBC is closed to all indoor and outdoor activity until further notice.

14U Team "Practice"
Thursday, April 9

Weekend games for April 11-12 are CANCELLED

Please be well!

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Gate Passes Available - 2020 Season

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