Twenty-eighth year for Tri-County Baseball School

By Kevin Hotary - Staff Writer
Colchester - posted Mon., Jul. 18, 2011
Colin warms up at the start of the 28th Annual Tri-County Baseball School. Photos by Kevin Hotary.
Colin warms up at the start of the 28th Annual Tri-County Baseball School. Photos by Kevin Hotary.

Once, when he was watching some coaches run a baseball clinic, Dave Shea thought to himself that he could do it better. And perhaps not surprisingly, given his credentials as head baseball coach and girls’ basketball coach at Bacon Academy - where he has amassed more than 300 wins - and a member of the Connecticut High School Coaches Hall of Fame, he could do it better. 

Shea’s Tri-County Baseball School, for players ages 6 to 13, features a full week of lectures and instruction in all aspects of America’s pastime, presented by former professional players and some of the area’s top high school and college coaches. Held last week, July 11 to 15, at the Colchester Recreation Complex, this summer’s program marked the 28th straight year of the baseball school. 

From modest beginnings, the camp has steadily grown, with 75 players attending this year. And according to Shea, there is one primary reason for this long-term success.

“We have a veteran staff. I have some of the best baseball coaches in the area,” he said. The staff includes Connecticut High School Coach of the Year Jim Penders, who has worked with Shea at the camp for 25 years, and former University of Connecticut star and professional player John Shea, who is Dave’s son and the assistant director of the camp.

Over the 28 years of the camp, Shea said that he has seen a number of players continue on, playing college ball, and even some that have played professionally, mentioning one player currently in the Arizona Diamondbacks system, and another in the Mets organization. 

But this is not a high-pressure camp, said Shea.

“Here, they can just have some fun and relax,” he said. 

Campers are split into four groups by age, and work with the different coaches on all aspects of the game. On this particular day, the youngest players were working with Coach Charles Baukas on sliding techniques, ranging from a belly slide to “the figure four” and the hook slide.

“This is what you use if you want to steal a base,” said Baukas of the hook slide.

“All you want the opponent to be able to touch is the tip of your toes,” he said as he guided the youngsters through the technique.

On another field, Penders was working with older kids on building up their arm strength, demonstrating some things they can do on their own. Penders timed each player as he or she threw a ball into the air and then caught it. A time of 4 seconds from throw to catch, he said, is a good indication of a strong arm.

Working on his batting skills with John Shea, Scott, in his second year at the Tri-County Baseball School, said that the camp has really helped him become a better player.

“I like the camp because they teach you the stuff you have to know,” he said, adding, “you get ready for the next season, and you get to see your friends.”

Scott said that he hopes to come back next summer for his third year at the camp.

“If there is any place I would recommend, I’d recommend this camp,” he said.

Let us know what you think!
Please be as specific as possible.
Include your name and email if you would like a response back.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the code without spaces and pay attention to upper/lower case.