Clinic gives South Tahoe Little League a shot in arm entering season |

Clinic gives South Tahoe Little League a shot in arm entering season

Steve Yingling

Steve Newell/Tahoe Daily Tribune Charles Bobo, 4, learns how to throw a baseball with "Little Al" looking on at the South Tahoe Little League baseball clinic on Sunday afternoon.

For some of the wide-eyed grasshoppers, it was their first day of organized baseball ever. For ballplayers already hooked on the game, it was a chance to build on their baseball knowledge.

South Tahoe Little Leaguers received a generous boost heading into their 2005 season on Sunday when former players, longtime area coaches and even the city’s top professional joined forces to share their baseball wisdom.

Minor league pitcher Greg Bruso demonstrated how to field different groundballs and former collegiate baseball player Jon Hetherton showed them how to patrol the outfield.

Brothers Mark and Scott Shehadi took care of other baseball fundamentals during a free preseason South Tahoe Little League clinic at Fred Rightmier Field.

“If every kid grabs the ball the same way and throws the ball the same way, then everybody is better,” Scott Shehadi said.

Youngsters came away from the two-hour clinic realizing that there is much more to learn about America’s past-time than which hand their glove goes on and which end of the bat to grip.

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“I think most of us had a really great time,” said Colton Marchesseault, an 11-year-old getting ready for his first season in the majors. “The (outfield) grounders they had us learn in the do-or-die drill, where you had to catch by your foot, was the most fun. There were are a couple groundball (drills) that I hadn’t seen before, so they are pretty cool.”

Mark Shehadi got the 5 through 12-year-olds started by teaching them the correct way to grip the baseball across the seams. Before long the local car dealer had them playing long toss and catching fly balls.

“I love to give back because we didn’t have this when I played. We had parents who cared, but we didn’t have clinics,” Mark Shehadi said. “Being a (former) Babe Ruth coach, when I saw these kids come up, they didn’t know how to bunt … they didn’t know how to do anything.

“The key is to be up on the new techniques and be open to the new things going on.”

By the time their parents took their children home, the young students of the game learned how to make a sound swing with the bat.

Few players in the history of South Tahoe Little League have memories equalling Scott Shehadi’s.

“Just to see kids out here playing on this field brings back memories,” said Scott Shehadi, who scored the winning run when his Red Sox won the major title when he was a 12-year-old.

Bruso and Hetherton put on an impressive exhibition of long toss, standing at least five times farther apart than the kids are accustomed to.

“I would love to learn how to be able to throw it that far and make nice, accurate throws and not lob it to high,” Marchesseault said.

Bruso has been visiting family and friends for the past week while he awaits his next minor league assignment. He was released by the Milwaukee Brewers last month and is hoping to catch on with a Northern League team to stir interest from a new major league club.

“Greg is busy enough where he didn’t have to come out here and hang out,” Mark Shehadi said. “That’s the special thing about Lake Tahoe and that’s why I still live here.”

On Sunday morning, South Tahoe High baseball coach Matt Tillson and some of his players and assistants turned out to give a clinic to Little League coaches and managers.

With most of the snow now melted from the Little League fields on Rufus Allen Boulevard, teams have started preparing for the 2005 season. Games begin on April 25, with the league’s annual opening day celebration set for April 29.