JIM PETERS: Fan Fest brings Hebron baseball community together

2013-07-25T17:00:00Z 2013-07-25T23:01:07Z JIM PETERS: Fan Fest brings Hebron baseball community togetherJim Peters Times Columnist nwitimes.com
July 25, 2013 5:00 pm  • 

When Al Hanaway heard that a home run derby would be a part of Hebron's inaugural Fan Fest, the former Hawks baseball player went out to do a little shopping.

"He bought a $200 bat," Hebron coach John Steinhilber said.

Saturday afternoon, Hanaway will be digging into the batter's box to take his rips as part of the day-long event that starts at 8 a.m. with a 50-inning varsity-JV scrimmage and culminates with the long ball contest at 5.

"A lot of adults are saying they're going to be in the home run derby," Steinhilber said. "I'd love to go out and play like I used to, but I can't. We're not 18 anymore. I know. I've tried it. It's totally different, especially with the BB core bats."

Not to worry. The fest offers a little something for everybody. There's a futures game for middle schoolers, an alumni game for past greats and a wiffle ball game for fathers and sons.

"Right away, I wanted to do a futures game," Steinhilber said. "Middle school baseball game is getting started and this'll be a chance for them to play on the big field."

If you prefer not to risk the old hamstrings, just stop by to check out the activities and all the upgrades that have been made to the facility.

"A lot of guys are saying they can't play anymore," Steinhilber said. "I've been telling them just come out, see the field and have some fun. It's something they never got to play on. It's beautiful."

Steinhilber has had the idea in mind since he took over at Hebron a few years ago. When the Hawks completed a suspended game at South Central this spring, it coincided with a similar occasion coordinated by Satellites coach Ryan Kruszka. Kruszka sent Steinhilber a flyer and Steinhilber, with the help of assistant coach Sean Riley, modified the format to fit their plans.

"I love watching the all-star game, all three days," Steinhilber said. "A lot of the parents played at Hebron. It's known for basketball, but they played baseball, too. These guys are really proud of their school. I went to Boone Grove, but I grew up two miles from Hebron. I'm excited to see a lot of them."

Upwards of 40 former Hawks plan to attend, including Matt Stone, who both played and coached at Hebron, and Jeff Brooks, the new middle school principal. Both Brooks and Sean Ryan, whose two sons are coming up in the program, played at Valparaiso University.

"We've got a bunch from the '90s, " Steinhilber said. "There's like 15 from the last three, four years. We're hoping to get some from the '77 (sectional champion) team. The response has been remarkable."

As part of the $20 fee, alumni will get personalized shirts at a later time. Down the road, Steinhilber hopes to hold the game without having to charge.

"We're trying to raise some money and some pride," Steinhilber said. "It was just a gray area as to how many we were going to get. We haven't had a fundraiser in my three years here. We're trying to do some things. It's going to be a very long day, but I'm really looking forward to it."

Come Sunday, there'll be plenty of aches and pains, not to mention a few bruised egos, but the good time will be worth the ice packs and Tylenol.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at jim.peters@nwi.com.

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