Ready to Re-Start 2020 Season!

Ready to Re-Start 2020 Season!

Practices Resume June 15

Where We Go From Here

Where We Go From Here

The "New Busy" Keeps Us Going.

Ruffnecks – The Game We Teach

Ruffnecks – The Game We Teach

Are we teaching Baseball as it is no longer played?

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!

FOMO – Understanding Fear of Missing Out!

There is a new acronym out and about educational and sports circles.  FOMO = Fear Of Missing Out.  Familiar with the feeling?  It is more a parental problem than a player problem.  Nevertheless, the anxieties, doubts, and fears seep into player psyches, as if by genetic code and transmission.  And it can destroy the joy of playing ball and being a kid.  Why? Because the same mindset that has led to the college admission scandal on a national level, not surprisingly, is rife in the world of travel baseball where upper middle class parents extend themselves to pay for the next showcase, clinic, recruiting service, to buy their sons the “edge.”  FOMO… Fear of missing out.  Sorry PBR; Sorry Perfect Game; Sorry Ruffnecks!  None of us has the magic bullet to get your kid where YOU, their parents, want them to go.  Let’s speak about the realities.

Reality #1: Talent

Talent trumps most everything else.  Preemptive talent is… preemptive.  There are several definitions, but let us assume it is the top 5% of all players:  Pitchers, hitters, position players.

Reality #2: Find a way to stand out.

Pitchers command attention.  They are prioritized.  If you are a lefty, work on your arm.  It can distinguish you and separate you from the pack.  Catchers hold a double edged sword:  If a college needs a catcher in your class, you can be in the mix.  If a college is NOT recruiting a catcher in your class, then there is not much you can do.  Move on to other schools to consider.  SPEED: If you have speed, it is a tool to show off whenever you can… especially running hard on a ball you know might be an out!  BAT TALKS: And your bat talks!  It doesn’t talk in a polished video.  It doesn’t talk in a batting average.  It talks through performance… loud, explosive, concussive swings that result in hard hit balls all over the field, regardless of the outcome.

Reality #3:  Good students open more baseball doors.

Baseball is a college sport that, at its highest level (Fully funded Division I programs), have 11.7 scholarships per 35 man roster.  If you are aiming for a scholarship, you may be chasing “fool’s gold.”  Give ANY college recruiter and easy path to present you to the college admission office and you open more doors.  Of course preemptive talent makes a difference (see Reality #1), but being a good ball player and a good student give you more options.  There are so many walk-on opportunities (not tryouts), and merit money options that big time colleges can work into the recruiting journey for good students.

Reality #4: It Doesn’t Apply to Me!

The most difficult reality to address is the human condition.  People will read this article and walk away with the sense that “It doesn’t apply to me.”  “My boy is different.”  Or “We know somebody and can afford to give him an advantage.” Yes, there are those who will justify and rationalize their actions at the outcome.  The problem is what it does to the player along the way.  Not every player will have the intended outcome a parent desires, not withstanding money spent on showcases, college clinics… no matter how much is spent in travel to colleges and on recruiting services and websites.

So Why the Frenzy?

College Baseball - At What Expense?

Parents love their kids.  They want what is best for them.  They also want what THEY think is best for them.  And this is a disservice.  Recently, a very good Ruffneck hitter showed up to a Fall Baseball game and declared to a coach, “My exit velocity was 91 at a PBR Showcase!”  The wrong focus, to be sure.  Really?  Who cares? Other players are heading to Florida for the Showball Head Coach Showcase.  $$$.  And substantively, none of those dollars will influence the outcome.  FOMO.

And the Frenzy is as much evident in the fall as during the baseball season.  Go play soccer or football.  Be an athlete!  Is anything really gained by spending money traveling to Florida in October?  Running into a tropical storm!  Sure the colleges chase the events, but they have to.  It’s a runaway train that has a life of its own.  Sadly.

So where does this all go?  We  do not have the answer.  But we will stay the course.  We play good, team baseball.  We have terrific kids and wonderful parents.  But the FEAR is palpable.  Focusing on “exit velocity,” external factors, too many showcases, all add to the pressure.  We believe in our players.  Our 2019 “Senior” team played incredibly well in Alabama at the Perfect Game Elite Championships in July of 2019.  Why? Because we have solid players who play hard… as a TEAM.  We earned a #8 seed out of 32 teams.  Many of the players on that roster are headed to high academic, NESCAC, Division III schools.  We are pleased for them.  They are good ball players!  We have a Lousiville commit too.  Ivy’s and others.  We love them all.  They can all play!  And we know they will get to their college and contribute with heart, soul, and understanding.  NO FOMO.  Get over it.


(Updated Wednesday, Sept. 23)

Fall Baseball
Weekend of Sept. 26-27

13U Fall Baseball
Sunday, Sept. 27

HS Wood Bat
Weekend Rosters Posted
(See Fall Baseball Schedule Page)

College Prep
Weekend Rosters Posted
(See Fall Baseball Schedule Page)

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