Welcome

Its been a busy pre-season…

by Keenan Longcor

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!!!

 

 

Help Us Repair Damaged Ballfields in North Portland

by Keenan Longcor
Damaged ballfields at Kenton Park

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.

 

 

Announcing FOB’s Diamond Dreams Scholarship Program

by Keenan Longcor

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: info@friendsofbaseball.org)

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

MLB Umpire, Jim Joyce Joining our Clinic’s Team!

by Keenan Longcor

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.’

Joyce image 2

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 info@friendsofbaseball.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

Announcing the 2014 FOB Coaches Clinic — Portland, OR

by Keenan Longcor

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!!

Celebrating Friends of Baseball with the Hops!

by Keenan Longcor

 

Hops Black and White

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…

 

Home Plate is Heading Home…where it belongs

by Keenan Longcor

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

Home plate

By: Jeff Smith
June 11th, 2013
http://www.oregonlive.com/hillsboro/index.ssf/2013/06/hillsboro_hops_a_new_home_for.html#incart_river

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.”

Busy spring! Hops Opening day around the corner…

by Keenan Longcor

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!

Friends of Baseball helps Cal Ripken Baseball; in turn, CRB Gives Back!

by Keenan Longcor

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

Tualatin Hills Cal Ripken Commits to Kids that Had a Dream .…

by Keenan Longcor

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 …