Well the 2014 season for Friends of Baseball is in full swing for sure! We have been busy, really busy around here lately and we haven’t even hit opening day yet! Just a quick update on what we have been up to…
As you likely saw, we started our Diamond Dreams Scholarship program this year, and we have had a wonderful response. It has pleased us more than you know to be able to help more than 25 players thus far through funding and gear donations. We are having a blast! We hope to help more before the season begins!
Additionally, we recently received two very large gear donations which we will work hard to get into the hands of the players that really need them! As we have said from the beginning, we can’t do what we do without the help of some amazing partnerships over the years. It truly takes a village…and we are happy to be a part of such an amazing baseball community here in Oregon! Thank you to adidas and to West Linn Youth Baseball for their recent gear donations! Your donations will not go unnoticed or unused!
Finally, something we are very excited about! As you likely read in the news or on our Facebook page, several of the North Portland parks were vandalized over the recent winter storm. We challenged the community to step up and help, and they came through in true Portland form! We were able to rally the troops to match our $1,000 pledge and raise the $2,000 needed to repair the damages ballfields! The best part, we didn’t have to much to rally the troops! That’s how much we appreciate youth baseball around here. A big thanks to all of those who supported us for their contributions!
That about covers it…we are having way too much fun and its only pre-season! Bring on baseball, we can hardly wait!!!
Damage to the North Ballfield at Kenton Park
While many of us spent happy days during the most recent snowstorm sledding with family, friends and neighbors and recovering with hot cocoa, a few vandals had other plans. Several individuals drove their ATVs and cars on the ballfields at Kenton and other parks in North Portland. Portland Parks & Recreation estimates damage to the ballfields at $2000, an unplanned maintenance expense.
Friends of Baseball wants your help. We want to make sure the repairs to these ballfields can be made promptly to make sure these fields are safe for our kids when the season starts, such as Board Member Nova Newcomer’s 6 year-old son who played his first t-ball games on these fields.
Read about our pledge on Oregonlive.com
Or read the original story that promoted our involvement on Oregonlive.com
Friends of Baseball is pledging an emergency grant of $500, we will increase that pledge to $1000 if you can match with your generous donations.
With your help, we can keep kids on the field of play.
As you may have heard Friends of Baseball recently instituted a NEW Program for the 2014 season. We realize one of the top reasons youth players fail to participate in both baseball and softball programs is due to finances or similar hardships. In our eyes, this should never keep a child from playing ball! Our Board of Trustees recently authorized a $5,000 grant to test an innovative new program. This program will provide 50 players within Oregon and SW Washington an average of $100 in team scholarship funding and/or the needed baseball or softball gear to ensure participation this season!
This is how it works. Authenticity is essential to the integrity of this program. To protect this, we are asking league coaches and administrators to act as the nominating party for individuals to be considered for this program. We only ask that you send two to three paragraphs in email for introducing us to these individuals along with their specific needs. A bit of the player’s background, the economic situation that they find themselves in and any personal thoughts you might have relating to these players. (Send to: email@example.com)
It is that simple!
We also hope that leagues might be able to partner with us within this Diamond Dreams program on occasion. Might a league be able to provide the season scholarship and Friends of Baseball provide the funding for the baseball or softball gear?
We believe this program can begin to make a significant impact in our communities. If successful, our board will consider a substantial expansion of the program year over year in seasons to come. Our board has authorized a ‘quick turnaround’ to insure we can respond swiftly in relationship to the upcoming 2014 season!
Please let us hear from you. Additionally, we hope you will also understand if and when this year’s funding resources have been depleted. Frankly speaking, we can only hope we get to the point where we use all of our funds for the year…
Keenan & Ben,
Friends of Baseball
You hopefully felt the excitement in our initial announcement of our upcoming Friends of Baseball, 2014 Portland Coaches clinic at Concordia University! Well, I come to you again with One More Announcement. Just when we all thought it couldn’t Get any Better than to have Dave Gasser and Jim Dietz share their coaching knowledge, we had the very rare opportunity to ‘Turn a Triple Play.’
Jim Joyce, callin’ it like he sees it!
We are thrilled to announce, in addition to the all-star cast, Oregon’s very own, MLB Umpire Jim Joyce will be joining the event (from 3:30 to 5:00pm)! If you are a Coach OR an Umpire, and you haven’t already signed up, please join us and Register HERE! Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joyce will be sure to bring a new perspective, lending his 40+ years’ experience as an umpire to the coaches and umpires that will be brought together this year. There is no game without umpires, and who better to share the viewpoint of umpires than Jim Joyce. As you likely know, Jim has been a part of a few controversial plays of late, and would love nothing more to share his outlook on some of those, as well and what he has learned over the 25 years as an MLB umpire. Hear Jim’s personal reflections on his iconic call at first base with Armando Galarraga and much more! This is an event you won’t want to miss!
Also, our friends from Baseballism will be there selling some great apparel and portions of the proceeds will go directly back to FOB!
2014 Coaches Clinic January 12th, 1-5pm
Concordia University, Gymnasium
2811 NE Holman St, Portland OR, 97211
For Friends of Baseball, there has been no other event that gets us more excited than our annual Coaches Clinic. It has always been a top priority to do what we can to help educate, inform, and further develop the coaches of Oregon and SW Washington youth baseball and softball players — 2014 will be no different. While last year was a year of expansion and reach down to Corvallis and Eugene, this year will be about focus and a refresh. Part of our focus this year will be to hone it down to just one clinic, centered on our home turf in Portland. While we know this may make it difficult for our friends and coaches down south we hope through the success we had last year, more coaches saw and felt the tremendous value Coach Gasser brings to the table, and he will not disappoint in 2014. We are honored to have him return as our headline act!
Not only will we have refreshed content from Coach Gasser, but we are beyond thrilled to report we will also have a special “Guest Coach” joining Coach Gasser for the afternoon, former head coach of San Diego State University, Jim Dietz. Coach Dietz’ Career included 1253 College Wins, Top 20 of all College Coaches, and instructed the likes of HOF’s, Dave Winfield, Tony Gwynn as well as Travis Lee & Mark Grace! This will be a day, for any coach, to remember!
Last year’s venue was such a natural space for the event, we couldn’t say no to a repeat. We will be holding the event at Concordia University’s Gymnasium again this year. The perfect place for Coaches Gasser and Dietz to interact with the participants, provide actual demonstrations and really get down and dirty with their powerful coaching techniques and strategy!
Please coordinate your coaches and leagues early, and come join us on January 12th, 2014 for our best Coaches Clinic yet!! Register HERE! Early registration starts NOW!!
Our friends at the Hillsboro Hops are well into the season and we at FOB sure are enjoying having a new home team to root for!
In the spirit of friendship and baseball, we partnered up with the Hops to bring a night of celebration and fun — Friends of Baseball Night at the Hillsboro Ballpark! This evening will help us celebrate our recent announcement of awarding $2.4 million in funding over the last six years, and will be filled with special events such as the chance to meet Hops players, visits from Barley the mascot, chances for autographed balls, and much, much more!
The Hops have generously let us pull together a nice package deal to make it more affordable for everyone. We are excited to celebrate with you, our “Friends of Baseball Fans” and our newest community partners.
Join us on August 24th, and look forward to a spectacular evening of good food, good friends and great baseball!
Follow this LINK to find out more and reserve your tickets NOW! They will surely go fast!!
See you at the Ballpark…
We are so excited about our partnership with a great organization like the Hillsboro Hops! And even more proud to be a part of the opening night cemermonies at Hillsboro Ballpark on Monday night to give a little piece of historic Portland baseball back to the new home team. Enjoy the article below as it tells our story so well. Credit to Jeff Smith for his phenomenal reporting.
We will see you at opening night!! — Keenan & Ben
By: Jeff Smith
June 11th, 2013
Home plate is heading home.
For nearly three years, the home plate from the final Portland Beavers baseball game in 2010 has resided in the Northeast Portland home of Keenan Longcor.
Longcor, the co-founder of the nonprofit organization “Friends of Baseball,” has treasured the historical artifact while also showcasing it at various events throughout the state.
All the while, he longed for the day when he could deliver the well-worn home plate to another professional baseball team in the Portland area.
“We were honored that Friends of Baseball was asked to be caretakers of home plate, but we never intended it to be ours,” Longcor said. “It’s a part of Portland history. We’ve just had our arms around it for three years.”
The home plate will make a triumphant return to the baseball diamond when the Hillsboro Hops play the Eugene Emeralds on Monday night in the inaugural game at Hillsboro Ballpark.
Though it’s retired from game use, the home plate will be displayed all season at the ballpark as a tribute to the history of the sport in the area and to the fans that never gave up hope of baseball’s return.
“We decided that home plate should be honored and protected,” Longcor said. “And then symbolically returned in the future to the next team that comes to town. It’s perfect how it’s turned out. It really is. It’s just going to be a special evening.”
Longcor, 60, has bittersweet memories of the final Portland Beavers game, when a sold-out crowd of 15,639 packed into then-PGE Park on a sunny September day to bid farewell to baseball. Even though there was no guarantee the sport would return to the Portland area, Longcor and his Friends of Baseball wanted to help the Beavers close the era with a positive message.
That led to “Until We Meet Again,” which was the theme for the postgame ceremony. Soon after the final out was made that day, stadium workers brought out shovels to dig up home plate.
Portland Beavers manager Terry Kennedy then handed the plate to a group of youth baseball players, who Longcor said served as the true “interim caretakers” of the base.
“It was a very powerful moment,” Longcor said. “It provided hope for the future at a time when there wasn’t a lot of hope.”
Some of those same players will be brought back to take part in Monday’s special pregame ceremonies that Longcor has helped orchestrate. With the help of Hops announcer Rich Burk, the story of the home plate will be told through the youth players as they join members of the Hops on a relay around the bases. There also will be a celebratory sprinkling of dirt that has been preserved from the Beavers’ field.
Longcor wanted to make sure children would be a part of the ceremony because they are a huge part of why it is so important to Friends of Baseball to have a local professional team.
“This is their chance to have heroes,” Longcor said. “It’s the ultimate dream of every child that plays to be good enough to play professional baseball. Kids can go to a Hops game and think, ‘I can do that. I want to be that guy.’ They’re going to be able to do that again this summer and for many summers to come.
“This will create so many memories and history for families, as children grow up going to the ballgame.”
Longcor, a proud baseball romantic, founded Friends of Baseball with his son, Ben, 33, in 2005. The nonprofit organization, which has provided more than $1.6 million in grants and resources to area youth baseball and softball needs, has showcased the home plate at various Friends of Baseball events over the past three years.
The home plate has also been on display in a baseball exhibit at the Multnomah County Library, at the Multnomah Athletic Club and at a Salem-Keizer Volcanoes minor league baseball game in 2011.
Wherever it went, Longcor enjoyed watching the varied reactions from people as they looked closely at the cleat marks and beat-up rubber of the pentagon-shaped base.
“It evokes a lot of emotion,” Longcor said. “Home plate means a lot of different things to a lot of people.”
For Burk, who served as the Portland Beavers announcer from 2001-10, seeing home plate dug out of the ground in 2010 was like seeing the heart removed from all the passionate baseball supporters in the city.
Longcor had a similar reaction that day and considered his organization’s protection of home plate as a way to keep the heartbeat of the sport alive. He closely followed the many attempts to return minor league baseball to the Portland area.
There were serious discussions in Vancouver, Wash., and Milwaukie as possible sites before Hillsboro emerged as the destination for the relocated Yakima Bears of the Class A Northwest League.
As soon as the deal became official, Longcor connected with Hillsboro general manager K.L. Wombacher to offer home plate to the Hops. Wombacher, who has quickly embraced the baseball history of the area, enthusiastically accepted the plate and will have it on display in the ballpark along with other artifacts from the past.
But the one part of history that Friends of Baseball has no desire to revisit is the pain of seeing the Portland Beavers move.
“It was heartbreaking,” Longcor said. “But we really don’t focus on that anymore because it’s long gone. We are just so thrilled to have the Hops here in a great new ballpark in Hillsboro. They’ve made such a significant commitment to make this happen and it isn’t fair to them to carry any negatives from the past.
“They’re our future, so let’s all jump on this bandwagon and ride it as long as we can.”
As for home plate, Longcor will have no regrets about passing it over to the Hops.
“I can’t think of anything better,” said Longcor, who can’t wait to take his 5-year-old grandson, Sterling, to several games this summer. “The symbolism of ‘Until We Meet Again’ is a wonderful, wonderful thought. And here we are. The kids are bringing it back home.”
It has been a busy spring for Friends of Baseball with an upcoming event and some opportunities to help a couple of amazing organizations in need.
We have been working closely with the Hillsboro Hops as they prepare for their inaugural first pitch on June 17th. We are honored to be an integral part of the opening ceremonies. As many of you may remember, back in September of 2010, after the final pitch was thrown by the Portland Beavers, and with a sellout crowd on hand, Friends of Baseball was honored as the “Interim Caretaker” of Home Plate until Professional Baseball could return to the Portland area. We are pleased to announce that FOB and The Hops have an Exciting and Triumphant Opening Ceremony Planned; yes, the young players present on that memorable September, 2010 day will be making an encore performance! We hope you can join us and the Hops for this festive occasion!
As you are aware, FOB enjoys working with all Oregon youth baseball/softball organizations. In recent weeks we have been working with three local Cal Ripken Leagues. Starting a new league from scratch is a daunting project. Portland Cal Ripken had a dream of developing a new League in S.E. Portland. Hoping for 50 or so kids this group evolved to exceed 250 players for their inaugural season! Now where to play …Hundreds of volunteer hours later, along with amazing donations and fundraisers, they have completed these outstanding neighborhood fields. F.O.B. partnered up in outfitting their concession trailer to create league sustainability, with prep equipment and their initial inventory of products to sell. Additionally, at their Opening Day Ceremony, we announced the purchase of 9 sets of New Catchers Gear for this league and their players. Congratulations to Bob Hart, Robbie Trebelhorn and their amazing volunteer support; we salute you!
Ben and Sterling Longcor with the Opening Day “First Pitch” at Glencoe Field
Jim Klee had a vision for a new “brand of ball” for his community. Jim Personally Funded 80% of these costs to restore this unused field behind his family’s church. Friends of Baseball is honored and proud to fund a riding lawn mower for Jim and his teams; prior to this, Jim had been mowing the field for weeks with a standard lawn mower from his home! Jim, what you have accomplished for your players and community is breathtaking …