Minor baseball holding strong in city: Angeline

Dave Kearsey
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 It’s been 30 years since Steve Angeline played a key role in developing the skillset of minor baseball players in Corner Brook, but he’s still impressed with the quality of the program being delivered by the coaching staff at Jubilee Field.

A native of Fairfax, Virgina, Angeline developed a lifelong relationship with the local baseball community after working as the head coach of the Corner Brook minor baseball program from 1979-84. Angeline reconnected with Frank Humber — one of the many young players he coached during his tenure in the city — when Humber called him last year about the possibilities of him returning to the city to take a look at how the minor baseball program was going, and if there was some things he could suggest to make it better.

He eventually made the trip to Corner Brook last summer for a five-day journey and this year he came back for 17 days to lend a helping hand.

“I’m very impressed your numbers are still as high as they are,” Angeline said when asked about what he saw during his visit, which wrapped up Sunday following the Mary Tavenor Memorial Baseball Tournament.

Angeline remembers working with 650 players in his last year of coaching the minor program, which pales in comparison to the 250 players registered for the program this summer. He knows it’s a challenge to keep the numbers good when the population base has dropped off with Corner Brook boasting a population of close to 30,000 people in the 1980s.

He said today’s youth are a different breed with so many other options such as hockey, basketball and swimming available to them. He also believes kids don’t seem to be as active today and video gaming is one of the things he feels has been a factor in what he sees as a downward spiral of registration numbers for baseball programs throughout Canada and the United States.

“Just a lot more options and a lot more things to do,” he said of the common thread he’s seen over the years.

Angeline got to spend some time spreading his vast baseball knowledge to the youngsters and one thing that really stood out for him was the quality of the athletes. He remembers always asking players in group settings how many of them play hockey and seeing all the hands going up. It gave him a sense of the tough athletes he was working with when he ran the program.

“Right there that’s just so far ahead of a lot of places because you have athletes,” he said.

Angeline believes the skillset of the players is pretty good, but he insists there is no way to stack up when you play way less meaningless games than your counterparts. He has a nine-year-old nephew in Fairfax who will eat up some 120 games and 75 practices this season, while the average nine-year-old in the Corner Brook system is limited to a dozen meaningful games all summer.

He likes seeing local baseball organizers trying to provide more opportunities through tournament and a longer season with an indoor training component of the program.

He just believes more is needed to bring the program to another level.

“The biggest thing that has to be done is try to figure out how to get the kids more playing time and more practice time,” he said.

Geographic location: Corner Brook, Fairfax, Canada United States

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