Local kids have been living a dream last season. The Titans, a parent organized youth baseball club has brought the excitement and challenge of U12 travel baseball to downtown Boston.
Starting with tryouts that occurred in June, 10-12 year old baseball players from the Hill House Little League, pounded base hits, covered bases, dove for balls, discovered the art of changeups, slid into home plate successfully and blocked balls in the dirt with some of the best talent in Eastern Massachusetts.
Dreamed up and organized by parents, the Titans represent a step forward for urban baseball says David Wolf, the Titans’ parent volunteer coordinator. “Recreational Spring and Summer leagues offer great experiences, but we wanted players who love the game to have a chance to learn it on a deeper level and get a look at better competition.” he added.
“Over the past few years, we have been working hard to raise the bar and I think we’ve made some great progress.” said Chris Marchi, coach of the Hill House Nationals. “Our players are throwing it as hard as anywhere else, hitting it as far and fielding it as well, but once our players start to develop, the spring season is over and their skills drop off. Now if they want to improve and maintain the regular season’s momentum, they have an opportunity to keep playing – and playing against the best caliber opposition they can find.”
Until this summer, downtown baseball players looking to further advance their skills joined expensive AAU teams based in the suburbs. Marchi says, “Trekking all over Eastern Massachusetts with a bunch of kids from other towns is not fun, efficient or financially sound if the quality of the organization’s communication and instruction is poor. And that’s the problem with these AAU teams – one cannot accurately gauge in advance the quality of the program.”
After three years of seeking and participating in advanced baseball opportunities for their older sons, Wolf and Marchi spearheaded the idea of a local, advanced baseball program on Boston Common. With plenty of experience, foresight, passion and assistance from others, Wolf and Marchi helped create the U12 Hill House Titans. Volunteers organized try-outs, ordered custom lettered uniforms and formally hired Matthew Duffy, a Double A professional player in the Houston Astros system to work with the kids. The Titans practiced and played baseball all summer long, throughout the fall and concluded their season last Saturday with an away double header in Weston on a modified and larger baseball diamond! In total, The Titans played 21 games in regional leagues and tournaments.
Said Daniel Heffernan, coach of the Hill House Astros and father of 12-year-old Patrick, a pitcher and outfielder for the Titans, “It was a fantastic experience for the players. The Titans played some great teams and faced some real challenges. Players, coaches and parents were thrilled about the higher level of competition, continued player development and team bonding. ”
The Titans won their share of games too, ending their season with a respectable 10 wins, 10 losses and a tie. Among the highlights of the season included regional tournaments in Mashpee and Bourne, where they acquitted themselves particularly well, going 2 – 1 in the Bourne tournament and defeating the eventual winner 4 – 3 in the bottom of the 6th inning.
“From a skill development perspective, we had a great season”, added Marchi. “We had two kids hit balls over the fence, numerous kids experiment with off-speed pitches and learn how to use them in games and got lots of great exposure to top level pitching and play.”
With the first season under their belts, the Titans are gearing up to do it all over again. “Players will have the opportunity to participate in off-season workouts once or twice a week at our own gym as well as a local baseball academy over the Winter.” says Wolf.
“We’re really quite proud of what our baseball community has accomplished here and we want to keep it going as long as the kids are having fun playing the sport and learning. And Hill House has been terrific too. Hill House fully supported the program, assisting with obtaining permits, providing Coaches Joe Parlow and Nick Schauwecker early in the program’s conception, maintaining the appropriate level of insurance and purchasing equipment.”
If you would like more information about the Titans and their off season baseball training, contact Hill House at 617-227-5838 or go to www.hillhouseboston.org. A Hill House representative will answer or forward your inquiries to the Titans organizers and coaches.