Junior Bulldog Baseball Camp Begins Week Of Learning, Fun

The baseball camps are a week and offer fundamentals to youngsters six through 14.

There were almost two dozen youngsters at the Junior Bulldog Baseball Camp. (Photo by Rick Assad)

By Rick Assad

Four days after summer officially began, the sun rose gloriously on Monday morning and the Burbank High baseball field was awash in brilliant sunlight as it marked the first day of the Junior Bulldog Baseball Camp.

Under the direction of Bob Hart, the longtime Burbank head man, more than twenty youngsters were present and excited to learn baseball fundamentals, like hitting, fielding, throwing, catching and running.

Boys and girls between the ages of six through 14 are welcome.

The camp this week runs from Monday through Friday and is for youngsters ages 10 through 14.

There is a camp from July 8 through July 12 for boys and girls between six and 10 and from July 22 through July 26 for campers 10 through 14.

For parents interested in registering their children, enroll at www.burbankhighbaseball.org or for any questions contract coachroberthart@gmail.com and the fee is $225.00 for each boy or girl.

“The primary goal is to give back to the community and young boys and girls,” said Hart, who is in his twentieth season at the helm and is running his seventeenth camp. “Our players and coaches gain by developing leadership skills and paying it forward.”

Before the youngsters took the field, Hart offered some words of wisdom.

Longtime Burbank High baseball coach Bob Hart is the camp director and he and his staff teach the youngsters the fundamentals and to be good teammates. (Photo by Rick Assad)

“This is about teamwork. Working hard together. We’re going to give you direction with encouragement,” he said. “Have good effort on the field.”

On this day, there was a talk on all safety issues. The campers stretched, and learned how to play catch. They played quick catch and also played over the line.

Brigitte Baker Snyder is the Burbank High Booster Club President, and she offered her opinion on why the camps matter.

“These camps are important on many levels: First you have the youth campers who have an opportunity to work on their baseball skills, meet other athletes who have the same level of interest in baseball that they do and allow them to work with a seasoned high school coaching staff that will prepare these young athletes for high school ball,” she said.

Being on the field and working on baseball for a week is always helpful.

“Not all of our campers have baseball experience. For some, this will be an opportunity to experience the game of baseball every day for a week,” she said. “On the field, swinging a bat, in a dugout with coaches and BHS Bulldog athletes who have a true love of the sport. It doesn’t get any better than that!”

Snyder praised the work and dedication of Hart.

“Coach Hart teaches his campers and athletes to respect each other, respect the sport and respect themselves,” she said. “Coach Hart enlists the assistance of his high school baseball team. This offers his high school athletes an opportunity to build on their leadership skills and allow them to give back to the youth in our community by sharing what they have learned over the years.”

Snyder continued: “What is so wonderful is you have coaches and high school players that are passionate about baseball and truly love being on the field,” she pointed out. “When our young campers see their passion and respect for baseball and the campers see the commitment our coaches and athletes have to the sport, they are provided much more than just additional skill and technique. Our Junior Bulldog campers truly look up to the high school players and find the BHS Bulldog baseball players highly relatable.” 

Bulldog pitching coach Nick Alfonso works with a youngster. (Photo by Rick Assad)

Snyder knows the value of learning the fundamentals of the game.

“Junior Bulldog campers have an opportunity to work on the basics of baseball. The camp is designed to work with Junior Bulldogs on fielding, hitting, base running and their technique,” she said. “Additionally, Coach Hart and his team provide an environment that gives the campers a peek into the high school baseball world.”

It’s the sparkle in the campers’ eyes that makes the camps worthwhile for everyone involved.

“First day of camp is always wonderful, to see how excited the Junior Bulldog campers are to be reporting to camp … fast forward to the last day of camp …. you see the confidence and the respect that these young athletes have for each other, the sport and their coaches. Truly amazing to watch,” she added. “Coach Hart has been hosting these camps for years … Some of our incoming freshmen are Bulldog Camp graduates. We had seniors last year and this year who were Bulldog Campers.”

Robert Snyder is a senior, Brigitte’s son, and is one of the most talented Burbank players in recent memory and was there to lend a hand.

“I think that the camps are so important because they give younger players a glimpse at the high school experience, and advice from high school players,” he said. “For many of them, it might be the first time they are getting instruction from coaches who are still playing themselves, and I think that offers a new perspective.”

Snyder is a skilled pitcher and an outfielder and carries an explosive bat to the plate.

Young baseball campers at the Junior Bulldog Baseball Camp are playing toss. (Photo by Rick Assad)

“For me, I love seeing players succeed because of the advice that I gave them. It is incredibly rewarding. Also, it’s a great opportunity for us to reexamine parts of our own game that we take for granted,” he said. “Just today I found myself giving some advice to a player and realizing that I had the same problem as that player.”

Snyder added: “The camps foster a love of the game, both in the campers and coaches, and that is what I think is so important about them,” he noted.

Burbank assistant coach Tony Ciccone will be entering his eleventh season in that role, and before the camp began was dragging the infield dirt.

“For me, it’s the relationships I build with the kids,” said the onetime minor leaguer who was drafted twice, once in high school and once at Sonoma State. “They’re better because they don’t know it all. I really do enjoy it and Bob’s been great to me.”

Nick Alfonso played on the Bulldog baseball team, graduated in 2016 and is the current pitching coach.

“It’s about giving back to the kids and players,” said Alfonso, who spent time on the baseball field at Pasadena City College and Los Angeles Valley College before transferring to Cal State Northridge, but because of an injury never played for the Matadors.

“It’s the knowledge [of baseball] and the experience for the kids,” he said of why the camps are important. “It’s seeing yourself in them.”

Geo Grair is an incoming Burbank freshman and will be a middle infielder on the junior varsity team.

“I had fun today at camp. I had fun because I got to give back to the youth just like how players used to coach me at camps,” he said.

Grair, who played shortstop and showed off a strong throwing arm, was glad that he could be of assistance.

“I wanted to help because I wanted to make the most out of my high school baseball experience,” he noted. “What the camp accomplishes for kids is that kids get taught skills and mechanics in the game of baseball from renowned coaches.”

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