Youth baseball

Pros assist with travel ball teams

2012-07-28T17:00:00Z 2012-07-29T01:51:08Z Pros assist with travel ball teamsRobby Howard The Times
July 28, 2012 5:00 pm  • 

For NWI Shockers 13-and-under coach Joe Fushi, the opportunity to work with a major league guy makes the travel experience more than worth it.

Fushi started the Shockers with John Mallee, the former Florida Marlins hitting coach and current Toronto Blue Jays senior adviser of baseball operations.

"He's just such a wealth of information," Fushi said. "There's not one question that he can't answer."

Fushi said several of his team's dads love to pick Mallee's brain and sometimes look like they're having even more fun than their kids.

"It's just an awesome thing to be able to ask any question and get a relevant answer that pertains to baseball right now," Fushi said. "Whether it's hitting approach or some new training. How could anybody pass that up?"

Fushi said that Mallee put together a handbook that serves as a guide for how the players should be taught to play the game.

Several of the other travel programs in the area also have professional ties. Mickey Morandini, the former Cubs and Phillies second baseman, helps with the Chesterton Slammers organization.

Dave Griffin, who founded the Indiana Playmakers and coaches the 14U team, played in the Atlanta Braves organization for 10 years.

Dan Zanolla, who played college and minor league baseball, coaches the South Shore Steelheads 13U team and is in charge of player development for the organization.

"Unfortunately at the Little League level, you may have a volunteer mom or dad coaching, not that that's a negative thing, but when you've got a guy who actually played at the higher level, you're going to get a lot more training," said John Batistatos, founder of the South Shore Steelheads. "You're going to get a lot more education."

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