Promoting the Game of Baseball With Charlottesville Tom Sox Baseball


>>We welcome you to
C-Ville Weekly Ballpark for tonight’s game with
the Winchester Hornets and your
Charlottesville Tom Sox.>>I think these nice young
men coming to our area, represent their
own school as well, and get to enjoy
what we love here, which is Charlottesville
and the family community and all that we
have to offer here, its kinda nice to
show off to ’em.>>From day one I felt welcome,
got to know some of the guys and within a week I felt like
I’d been here all summer. (bat cracks) ♪ Take me out to the ballgame >>Today we’re going
to learn about a group that provides our community
with the high quality collegiate summer baseball team, an exciting fan experience
and an opportunity for youth to grow in the
game and in character. Join us as catch up with
the Charlottesville Tom Sox, come on! (“The Star-Spangled Banner”) (audience cheers)>>Let’s go to work men!>>Ladies and gentlemen–
>>Jeff, what inspired you to start a Charlottesville
baseball team?>>This Valley League has
always had an allure to me. So, I didn’t know whether
we’d start a minor league, professional team at
some point in time, or a Valley League team. But just talking with some
baseball fanatic friends of mine back in 2013 I think
it was, originally, we just decided that this
would be a fun venture if we could do it right. We spent a lot of time
trying to make it right.>>Well, and talk
a little bit about your history to baseball, I
mean, each of you, clearly, have a history with baseball,
so Corey, you tell us.>>I mean, you know, I grew up
in the Charlottesville area, I played Little League
in Charlottesville, played Babe Ruth league, played
high school, played college, fortunately right down the road. Baseball started
for me very young, this is another
amazing opportunity
that Jeff and his team has been able to provide
for these players here to be able to come here these
summers and get their work in. It’s just been an
amazing opportunity.>>Did you grow up
playing ball too?>>I did, kinda all over
the state of Virginia and I came to Charlottesville
to play at UVA as well. Back during a time when UVA
was a very different product than the one that
Corey played in, just in the last 10 years. So I had a connection
to Charlottesville and this community and again,
playing and then coaching, kind of at all levels
including high school in the last few years, and it just seemed like the
natural progression to do this, do it right with a bunch
of guys who love the game. Charlottesville doesn’t have
that many things going on in the summer either, you know, so we’re really filling some
blank space if you will.>>So let’s talk
about what it is, so what is the Valley League
and who makes up these teams?>>Yeah, well, you want to go?>>Go ahead.>>Alright, so the Valley
League is kinda the oldest wood bat league in the country,
it’s been around forever, The Shenandoah Valley
is the main footprint, we’re the one team I
guess that’s outside of the Shenandoah Valley. So there’s no
requirement that you be in the Shenandoah Valley,
but you gotta get to all the other sites to play.
>>Right.>>So they’re 11 teams, the
northernmost team is Winchester, who we’re playing today. It’s a wood bat
college summer league, kids come from all over
the country to play for us.>>All right Tom Sox
fans, let’s play ball!>>For anybody else that’s
thinking about playing in the Valley League,
Charlottesville is
the place to be, just our games, the
fans we get here, the events they’ve got
going on between innings.>>It’s just baseball
how it should be, like when you’re
younger, just coming out, playing the game you know
and love and just having fun.>>Tonight I’ll be mascoting. In between innings there
are games like Chuck-A-Cluck and the mascot race and
cleaning off first base with a giant toothbrush.>>This is something
that literally hasn’t
been done anywhere is to create a mascot
internship program, kids that wanna learn, are
interested in how to perform as a professional mascot.>>All right, congrats Jay!>>So Corey, talk about some of
the benefits to being a player and having an
opportunity to play, there are benefits as
far as internships.>>Absolutely, yeah,
so Charlottesville
is an amazing place for these guys to be able
to have the opportunity to come and play. Not only will they
get their at-bats, their innings on the
mound, their repetitions, pre-game batting practice, all
these things that they need to work on baseball-wise,
but they’re also gonna get the opportunities to do an
internship, to have a job, to go out in the community
in Charlottesville and further their resumes
while they’re here, so it’s not just baseball that
some of these guys are doing. And that’s the beauty
of what these guys have been able to set
up and get going here, and it’s really paid off
for a lot of these players, not only in baseball
but also in their life and their professions
outside of baseball. (audience applauds)>>I think why you’d come to
a place like Charlottesville, why you play summer
baseball really, because you wanna take
it to the next level if you think you’re good
enough to play professionally, so its definitely the
over-arching goal.>>If the opportunity
presents itself to play at the next level I’ll
definitely take advantage of it but that’s partially
why I’m at Wake Forest, just for the education to
set myself up for a career beyond baseball, and
also while I’m here, getting the work experience
while playing baseball as well.>>One of the things
that the kids will do is either internship
or volunteer, so they spend a lot of
time out of the house ’cause they have to go to
the hospital to see kids or they have to go
to a job somewhere or work at the
Boys & Girls Club.>>You say they’re
playing with wooden bats, there are scouts that wanna
see them do that, right, they don’t do that in
college ball, right?>>They don’t do that
in college ball. We do get scouts here,
especially when we have players that they wanna see. They’ll come all the
way across the country if they think that they
have a draftable product. So we spend a fair amount of
time evaluating these guys and getting that information
out to major league scouts so that we can
draw them in here, so hopefully these guys
will get drafted one day. And with that wooden
bat in their hand, these guys are building a
resume, that’s what we all need, right, when we’re starting a
job or auditioning for a job, this is an audition for
them in a lot of ways.>>And so if someone’s
not getting a lot of time to play at college
this is an opportunity, they can do that?>>Yeah, so there’s
multiple reasons, let’s say you’re a star
player for your college team, but you only play 60
games in a season. Well we play 42 games
in the regular season, so it allows you to
play at least 100 games, and to get a taste
and understanding of what professional
baseball will be like if that’s in your future. And so it will benefit
those guys that didn’t get many opportunities and those
other ones that have also gotten opportunities, so
the 42 games in the summer is an amazing opportunity
for anybody in between that has played a
lot or lack thereof.>>And we probably want
to make this clear too, our goal is to be the
best in the country, as far as a baseball
program in the country, it’s been a phenomenal
year but what we want is the best host
family experience and the best internship
experience and the best coach and the best playing surface, and we want all these things
to be great so at some level, we’re looking for the best
of the best to come here. We have, as Corey
mentioned earlier, we’ve got so many competitive
advantages in this community. We have the opportunity
to be selective, and frankly, give them
opportunities that
not everybody has.>>And in Charlottesville
you play here at CHS, and so talk about
why you play here.>>One of the things that
our committee decided was we want baseball as a
whole in Charlottesville to be elevated by
our experience, much in the same way
that UVA has elevated because they’ve gotten
to the national stage in a way that Corey
experienced but I didn’t. And so we thought by
playing in the most urban of high schools in
Charlottesville we may help the urban community
in Charlottesville, which is historically not
a baseball rabid community. So by coming here, we just
thought this just has a great community benefit playing
in this particular place.>>And inspiring
more people to play.>>Yeah, and 95% of these teams, and there’s like 300 of these
teams across the country, they play on high school fields. High school fields may be
where we built the press box, and we built a hitting facility, maybe others are doing that too. But in some cases you go in
and it is just a stripped-down high school field so the
guys can go out there and get their reps.>>Batting for your Tom
Sox, second baseman, number 19, Tyree Blaylock.>>I think I love baseball
because it teaches more lessons, I believe than any other game. You fail so much more
than you succeed, and each play it’s you
against the pitcher, you against the batted ball, so there’s a lot of
individual in it, but its also, you gotta
rally for your team and be part of a collective.>>So everyone’s playing at
a high level of baseball. Everybody’s had a lot of
success in their school seasons, and you can really see
that success carrying over to our summer season as well.>>So you’re the manager.
>>Yes, ma’am.>>What do you do? The team’s doing really
well, is that because of you?>>Jeff asked me, do you want
a certain type of player, do you want this type of team, I told him to give me a team, and he has absolutely done that. Him and his crew have
absolutely gone out and got the best kids, the best ball players,
the best personalities, an amazing group of young men. Me as the head coach, my
job is incredibly easy because of what they do
and what they’ve done, and that is basically put
a lineup, let ’em go play, maybe coach ’em a
thing or two each game, teach them a thing
or two each game and then just let ’em play the
game and they have absolutely taken that role and run with it.>>Let me brag on him
just a little bit, okay? I heard a player
say the other day, he is the absolute best
coach he’s ever played for. This particular kid goes to
a phenomenal college program, so for him to have the
opportunity to come in here and play for Coach Hunt,
it is a year-round process to get these guys here. We have about half of our
roster picked for next summer already and a lot of the
kids that are on here, this year’s team, we hope
to have back next year. That is what you
want every year, is to have so many success
stories that this is the place they wanna come back to. So, it’s for him that
they’re coming back to play in the culture that he’s
created around that field.>>And you were talking earlier, they have great host families. So when the guys come they
stay in the community.>>They do, do you
wanna speak to that? You’ve done this.>>The community itself has
embraced the entire team, and with that comes
finding host families and people that wanna house
these players during the summer because they’re traveling
anywhere between 50 miles, two miles and 600
miles to get here. And these families have taken
some of these players in to house them during the summer, basically as one
of their own kids, and that just shows you the
amazing people that are here within the community
to open up their homes to house these players
for a few months to help them get better
and to help them save money over the summer so they don’t
have to pay for an apartment, or they don’t have
to go somewhere and
spend all this money.>>’Cause they don’t
get paid to play.>>Correct.
>>They pay to play, actually. And let me say, the host
families, we spend as much time recruiting the host
families as we do players, because that is their
family when they’re here. So when I go to a head coach
at University of Florida and say, “Your kid will be
well taken care of here,” that means when he gets
hurt in the eighth inning at 11 o’clock and he’s gotta
get rushed to the UVA hospital to have an x-ray, you’re
probably taking him, so you might think you’re
entering in to a relationship with a college baseball player
to influence your 12-year-old that lives under the same
roof, and that will happen, but you’re also signing up
to feed these kids some, to take them to
the emergency room, to give them a hug when
the day is not going well, and frankly to pat ’em
on the back and say, “Get on with it,” when
they need to be encouraged to just go out and play again. So, these host families,
we call them the backbone of what we’re doing, without
them this does not exist.>>Its been nothing
but positives for us, and as long as you can
keep mac and cheese and sausage and eggs in the
house you’ll be perfectly fine.>>It’s really great
having another family away from your other family
that basically feels like home from day one.>>I can’t go anywhere, If
I’m wearing a Tom Sox shirt in Charlottesville, there’s
somebody coming up to me, saying, “I was at
your game,” like, “Oh, you play for the Tom Sox,” it’s a big deal here
in Charlottesville and its been a lot of fun,
I’ve really enjoyed being here.>>For your Tom Sox in the sixth, there were no runs, one hit,
no errors and one runner left on base, after six
full innings of play, the score remains Winchester,
three, your Tom Sox, three. (mellow jazz music)

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