Disabato: Frankfort Square Baseball in a league of its own
Pat Disabato email@example.com | (708) 802-8837 August 13, 2012 7:50PM
Dave Creamer, a member of the Pinto ASU Sun Devils of Frankfort Square Baseball, lets loose of a pitch. | Supplied photo
“They (Frankfort Square Baseball) do the right thing and they have their mind in the right spot. They’re more devoted to getting kids better at playing the game than winning tournaments. Player development is their focus and they’ve given us a lot of kids that play baseball the right way.”
Lincoln-Way North baseball coach
Updated: September 15, 2012 6:02AM
The lifeline to almost every successful high school sports program is feeder programs. A quality youth program not only develops a player’s skills, it instills a strong work ethic and love for the game.
The Southland boasts successful youth organizations in a variety of sports.
However, when it comes to a community-driven in-house organization, few, if any, can match the success of Frankfort Square Baseball.
From T-ball (5 years old) to Pony (14 years old), Frankfort Square suited up 627 players and fielded 53 teams in 2012.
Stunning numbers, when you consider Frankfort Square’s population is just 9,276.
The organization, which started in 1972, is a dying breed in a world of full-time travel teams.
While the number of players participating make Frankfort Square Baseball an ongoing success story, the organization’s ability to help Lincoln-Way North develop into a powerhouse could be the biggest feather in its cap.
Barring injury or mass transfers, Lincoln-Way North will be the preseason No. 1-ranked team next spring. Considering North opened up its doors just four years ago, its ascent among the baseball elite is remarkable. During those brief four seasons, North is 96-38, including a 33-6 mark this past season.
That type of instant success wouldn’t have happened without Frankfort Square Baseball.
“They do the right thing and they have their mind in the right spot,” North coach Joe Skarbek said. “They’re more devoted to getting kids better at playing the game than winning tournaments. Player development is their focus, and they’ve given us a lot of kids who play baseball the right way.”
Seventeen players on North’s 2012 roster played for Frankfort Square Baseball.
“We just draw from our community,” said John Van Artsen, the Colt-Palomino Director who has had two boys in the program. “There are no tryouts for our teams. The community really supports us.”
Frankfort Square teams play anywhere from 14 to 18 games a season. To appease a growing demand for additional games, the league allows its teams, beginning in Mustang (9 years old), to participate in a part-time travel league on Sundays.
Of course, all-star season offers more games. Even then, the amount — around 25 — ranks nowhere near the demand of full-blown travel teams.
“We’ve had parents lobby to go full-time travel,” Van Artsen said. “They say, ‘If you want your kid to play high school baseball, you have to play travel.’ But as we’ve seen, that’s not the case. Look at Lincoln-Way North’s roster. It’s full of our kids. Families jump around from travel team to travel team. We’ve played a lot of those teams and we’ve held our own.”
Only when a player turns 13 does Frankfort Square offer an opportunity to play full-time travel with its Raptors team. Skarbek scoffs at the notion kids must play full-time travel to make the high school squad.
“That’s not the case at all,” he said. “I’m very impressed with their players. They have a great feel for the game and a high IQ for the game. I think some travel teams tell parents that to get them to join them. Frankfort Square Baseball gives us a lot of kids that play baseball the right way.”
And without draining families’ pocket books. Registration costs generally range from $85 to $165 per player — a far cry from most travel teams.
Dennis Moore has had two sons play in Frankfort Square and coached at various levels in the organization for 15 years. He calls the experience “great.”
“When you’re playing with your friends and having people come to the games, you’re building community,” he said. “The travel is in your back yard. The kids are having fun and a lot of travel teams have forgot how to do that.
“People say that travel teams have better coaching. But do they? We have coaches who played college ball at a high level. It’s important that the kids should be having fun and developing a passion for the game, which our kids do.
“Our playoff games are packed. All the community comes out and it’s a great time. We don’t take credit for what Lincoln-Way North is doing, but we’re proud of the kids who are playing there.”