By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor
Helping area youth develop their baseball skills is a never-ending labor of love for Tim Epling. And he is never short on ways to get it accomplished.
One of the new avenues is the first Upper Deck Fall Instructional Baseball League. The series of two-day camps will start the weekend of Saturday, Sept. 15 and run through the weekend of Saturday, Oct. 13.
Entry fee for the camps, for high school players ages 18 and under, is $110 before Sept. 13. After that date, the fee will be $125.
Among the several points Epling wants to get across is that work toward baseball development doesn’t stop in August.
“These kids have been playing in the spring, they’ve been playing in the summer,” he said. “Now it’s time for them to really develop their baseball instincts on the field.”
The camps will be organized under the same model as Major League Baseball instructional leagues. A number of college and professional coaches and players will serve as instructors, including Jeremy Cummings. The Charleston native and former WVU pitcher advanced to Triple-A professional ball and won a bronze medal with the U.S. Olympic team in Beijing.
Also attending will be Steve Crosier, an assistant with the West Virginia Miners who will serve as a consultant, Marshall head coach Jeff Waggoner and new WVU head coach Randy Mazey.
“Every player will be given a workout program for them to take,” Epling said. “If a kid needs to work a certain training protocol, as far as arm development and keeping his arm healthy, they will have an understanding of what they need to do. We have to educate the player on making sure that he doesn’t go out there and blow his arm out because he doesn’t understand what he needs to do.”
When the instruction part of the series is complete, players will have the chance to put their knowledge to the test.
“At the end there will be games to let them work on the things that we are going to be teaching and instructing on,” Epling said. “It’s going to be very unique.”
Teams will be drafted for the simulated games.
One of the goals is to prepare the players for baseball beyond high school.
“We are going to start getting these kids looked at for college baseball, and the fall is the best time to do it,” Epling said.
Epling expects the league to attract players from all over southern West Virginia and even parts of Virginia.
“We’re going to treat them like Major League players,” he said. “I think it will be a great learning experience for the players and it will help them be that much more ready for spring.”
To register, call Danny Flores at 304-673-2160.
— E-mail: gfauber@