Friends of Baseball’s Mission is to offer Oregon’s economically and geographically challenged children enhanced opportunities for social interaction, academic success and physical and mental well-being through participation in youth baseball and softball team programs. Watch the video below to learn more about what we do:
Friends of Baseball was founded in 2005 by a father, son and Board of Trustees driven by their passion to give back to the community of youth baseball and softball that they love. Friends of Baseball and their partner providers offer league-sustaining goods, services and in-kind support to youth organizations that exhibit compelling need. Youth baseball and softball programs face many ongoing challenges including loss of playing venues, diminished community resources and increased responsibility for field preparation to simply play “their game.” To meet these growing needs, Friends of Baseball has received designation as a 501©(3) nonprofit in order to better partner with Family and Corporate Foundations and enhance our financial resources for those teams and regions currently underserved. Read the rest of this entry »
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 …
This organization has been a great friend to FOB for many years. They not only sent over 35 Coaches to our January Coaches’ Clinic, they also asked how they could help us. Jason Dailey, their League President, decided to have an Equipment Drive to assist our less fortunate teams. Recently he delivered bag, after bag, after bag with 100’s of pieces of baseball gear. This will be inventoried and distributed to teams both this and next season! This “like new” gear will be a huge lift for some of our more rural and challenged teams. Thank You Jason and the West Linn Community!
This week is an important week for Friends of Baseball as we prepare for round two and three of our coaches clinics in Corvallis and Eugene this weekend! We look forward to seeing new and seasoned, young and old softball/baseball coaches this weekend! They are going to be two great events — guaranteed!
But besides that, FOB came full circle this week — the genesis of our organization surfaced itself in recent months. My former high school (Portland Lutheran), where the father/son baseball relationship really blossomed for my father and I, came back to us for some help. A few years after I left, the baseball program was put on hold for several years as there just wasn’t enough funding or participation. And while many supporters did their best to resurrect it, it just wasn’t in the cards until this season.
Fortunately, Friends of Baseball has stayed in contact over the years with administrators, former coaches and teachers at PLS and promised to help when they needed us. It was our honor and pleasure to have the opportunity to partner with the other members of the PLS community to make this dream a reality. On top of their persistence and passion to make this happen, we are also proud of their ingenuity. While they understood they may not be able to realize this goal alone, PLS partnered with the Portland Waldorf high school to form an alliance and ultimately, their 2013 team. A tip of our hat to both schools and their willingness to come together for the benefit of their young athletes. This school and its unbelievable staff (some of which are still there today) did so very much for me during my high school days, and continue do to amazing things for students and athletes today.
Good luck gentlemen on a fantastic inaugural 2013 season!! –Ben & Keenan
With the amazing success we enjoyed in Portland we’re very excited to head down into the valley for two more Coaching Clinics. Here are a couple of exciting follow up announcements:
After your registration is complete, should one or more of your coaches have a conflict on one clinic day, they are welcome to attend the prior or next day’s clinic! One league registration for both Clinics; just let us know!
Pre-registration closes on March 15th. Unregistered coaches will be asked to donate $10 to Friends of Baseball at the door.
League Direct, one of our Partner Equipment Providers, will be awarding a $250 gift certificate to the league with the greatest number of attending coaches!
Friends of Baseball will be distributing a limited number of new Nike fielding gloves and cleats for coaches to distribute to underserved kids.
Remember, a single “Pre-registration” of $50 will admit All of Your League Coaches. Simply register and email us your attendees and their email addresses Prior to March 16th!
For full details and registration, simply follow these links:
Corvallis Coaches Clinic March 16th: http://www.friendsofbaseball.org/corvallisclinic/
Eugene Coaches Clinic March 17th:
Our 2013 Portland Coaches’ Clinic was our most successful yet, thanks to your dedication to teaching the love of the game to youth baseball and softball players of all levels. We were thrilled to see so many of you (nearly 300) come out to learn from Oregon’s winningest high school baseball coach, Dave Gasser. And we were pleased to bring Coach Kevin Gunderson, former OSU College World Series pitcher, thanks to Metro Baseball Academy. A special thanks also to Concordia University for providing their gymnasium for the clinic. Our follow-up Surveys suggested a 93% High Satisfaction Rating!