La Jolla Youth Baseball is getting ready for the 2018 season with registration for players, ages 5-14, available online at ljyb.org
The league, which plays at Cliffridge Park, consists of five divisions (Shetland 5-6 years old, Pinto 7-8 years old, Mustang 9-10 years old, Bronco 11-12 years old and Pony (13-14 years old). Each division is designed so players can further develop their baseball skills while having a great time.
There is a tremendous amount of excitement for the upcoming season. La Jolla Youth Baseball is now under the leadership of Jim Sampson, who is taking over for Geoff Longenecker as president of the league. Sampson is focusing on providing quality coaching and player development, excellent facilities for practice and games, and a fun environment where the whole family enjoys coming out to watch kids play baseball.
Sampson is not going it alone. There are a host of other volunteers involved in all aspects of running the league — from organizing uniforms to managing the snack bar to raising money. One of the new additions is 1998 American League Rookie of the Year and nine-year major league player Ben Grieve, who will put his experience to good use as the head of player and coaching development.
“I’m really excited to help our kids and dads learn the game of baseball,” Grieve said, adding that he has lined up clinics from perennial top 20 college baseball schools USD and UC San Diego. Coaches and players from La Jolla High will also be holding their annual clinic for the kids in the league.
Further, Grieve has scheduled a host of professional instructors, including major league star Bradley Zimmer (Cleveland Indians) and his brother Kyle (Kansas City Royals), who grew up playing on the same La Jolla fields the kids play on today.
“Having Bradley and Kyle Zimmer come out is a big event for the kids,” Grieve said. “It shows them their dream of playing major league baseball is achievable and they get some great instruction on hitting, fielding, base running and pitching.”
Along with providing quality instruction, La Jolla Youth Baseball is focused on providing quality facilities. “We added two new scoreboards last year, revamped the snack bar and added several practice mounds for pitching,” Grieve said. “This year, we focused on improving the five batting cages around the fields and adding new grass to keep the infields perfect.”
La Jolla baseball is not just practice and games. Several special events are scheduled for the 2018 season. The festivities kick off with Opening Day on Feb. 24 where members of the Padres will be on hand. There will also be food trucks, live entertainment and lots of baseball.
On USD Night, the league will take in a Toreros baseball game at Fowler Park and a Home Run Derby and Skills Competition for both parents and kids. Families will be participating in a Padres Day game and a Padres Night game where the league families get discount tickets to see the Padres and the kids get to go on the field at Petco Park!
The season will wrap up with a Closing Ceremony full of fun, food and games before the all-star games get started.