10/25/09 — MOC hold baseball clinic

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MOC hold baseball clinic

By Staff Reports
Published in News on October 25, 2009 2:00 AM

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Mount Olive College baseball player David Combs shows Sean Williams how to set up to pitch during a baseball clinic held Saturday at Scarborough Field. Dozens of youngsters attended the camp, which featured instruction by MOC coaches and players and a special appearance by former Mount Olive player Rich Racobaldo, who is now playing professionally.

MOUNT OLIVE -- The baseball field at Mount Olive College was packed with youngsters learning the fundamentals of the game Saturday afternoon as the school hosted a free clinic featuring the entire Spartan team and some special guests.

The clinic, co-sponsored by the school and United Way of Wayne County, was aimed at showing young players the nuances of throwing, pitching, catching and batting. On hand to direct them were MOC Head Coach Carl Lancaster, former Mount Olive and now professional player Rich Racobaldo and legendary diamond gurus Doyle Whitfield and Clyde King.

King, a former pitcher and manager for the New York Yankees, opened the day with some tips for the young players and autographed baseballs for many of them. One father said he knew his son did not understand who King was, or what baseball history he represented, but he said that one day the boy would look at the baseball and remember it had been signed by one of the major league's most famous figures.

King emphasized to the young players how to handle themselves on the field. When you strike out, don't throw your bat or hat, he said. Show no emotion on the field, he said. And he reminded them to respect their coaches.

Later, he called the clinic "an outstanding event.

"There are so many young people," he said, "and this is a good start for them. That's about the same age I was when I started playing. If they just won't give up, they'll have a chance."

Whitfield, who coached high school teams in Goldsboro, Hamlet and Richmond County to eight state championships, praised the college and Lancaster for hosting the event.

"It's so wonderful that a coach like Carl Lancaster will take time out on a Saturday to work with these young people," he said. "He treats his own players like they're his own sons."

As his players and assistant coaches worked with the young players, Lancaster stood near the Mount Olive dugout and surveyed the field. An assistant coach and the team broke up the crowd of eager players into groups for throwing and batting practice. "No mailmen!" an assistant coach shouted out, explaining to the boys that mailmen walked and that baseball players ran. And, "We're here to play catch, not fetch!"

Safety was emphasized. Players were told to throw only when instructed to do so and to not swing their bats around while waiting for their turn at the plate.

"I think this means a lot to my players," Lancaster said. "It does them a lot of good to teach these youngsters. They look up to my players and this gives my players a chance to give something back to the community a bit.

"This has always been a good day for us."

Conrad Artis of Goldsboro and his wife Jamie sat with their daughter, Isabella, and watched as their son, Ty, 8, picked up tips from the college players.

"I just wanted to give him a shot at learning how to play," he said.

Wayne Wise of Rosewood stood along the outfield fence, watching his two sons, Conner, 8, and Jace, 5, work on their throwing motion.

He said his younger son was just learning about the game but that the older boy had already been bitten by the baseball bug.

"He just loves baseball," Wise said. "Every day he says to me,'Let's go outside and play."