Today we have a special treat for the readers of D24 Baseball Magazin, we are honored and proud to have one of the most distinguished Baseball Coaches in Europe and the world as our guest. It is Frank Fulton who is taking the time to do a very spontaneous interview with us. Frank is widely known for his expertise on Baseball, he is the former Manager of the German National Team also currently Director of Virginia Marlins Baseball and has a long track record as College Baseball and Football Coach. He also has scouted for the Florida Marlins (now Miami Marlins) and Pittsburgh Pirates both, no secret, Major League Baseball Teams.
So this is how it actually took place on Facebook about an hour ago. I really had not prepared any questions, just wanted to ask Frank if he would do an interview with us at his convenience. So i wasn´t even ready for his direct and quick response which stated: „Lets go ahead right now“
After Frank consented to my query on the interview i tried quickly to think of the best questions that would help solve some of the mysteries and uniqueness of Baseball in Germany and Europe in general. What problems do the teams at the grassroot level face, what questions would they have and what could be a help to them.
Without even thinking about it or having this purpose in mind we actually came to the bottom line after a few questions.
The Secret to the Game of Baseball
So withour further adieu here is the interview:
Hans: Hi Frank, thanks for joining us today we are so glad that you are taking the time to answer a few questions. What is the most important thing to learn when you´re starting with baseball? Would there be a difference for kids or adults, since many adults here become their first contact with baseball without the fortune of growing up with it?
Frank: The first thing to learn in baseball is how to throw and catch. it is the fundamental process of the game that must be learned by all who play regardless of age or gender.
Hans: What drills do you recommend for hitting to get maximum results?
Frank: The best drill for hitting is short front toss with whiffle balls then with real balls from behind a protective screen. All the drills of hitting the ball from the side or behind or fast pitching machines are unrealistic. A batter never hits the ball from the side. The next best hitting/teaching drill is to hit a ball properly off the batting tee. (However, there is a very special protocol to hitting off the tee. The ball must be placed ahead of the plate at the proper point of contact)
The Game before we knew it
Hans: Where do you see Germany as opposed to 10 years ago in terms of Baseball?
Frank: German baseball players have learned many of the physical mechanics and the mental dynamics of strategy and training. believe it or not, they have a better technical idea of the game than many USA players. The weakness is the lack of repetition of playing real games at a faster pace with better athletes. Europeans are behind in the reactive skill sets, the power and speed development, and the natural effortless motion of participation.
Baseball in Germany is getting ready to grow again in a very big way. There are now second and third generation baseball families that are leading new student/athletes to the game. More communities are embracing the game as a social process that has positive characteristics and global connectivity. The growth of the game is going to come in the lower levels of the established baseball federation because the teams and the players enjoy the game more. They understand the importance of team play and community competition. The National 1st team programs are leveled off and not growing at any substancial pace. They have tried to copy major league baseball or some form of college baseball and have a mind set of keeping up with the Jones. They still do not understand that to be competitive with Latin America baseball and USA baseball that they need to play everyday and they need to pay their players so that being a baseball player in Germany is actually a paid position.
Hans: So you´re saying we are not even as far as America was over a hundered years ago? Before 1900, when the Game was already popular in the United States with many players at that time getting paid to play baseball?
Frank: The irony of the whole process is this, the Game of Baseball started in Germany back in the 1500’s!!!!! It changed into rounders and cricket when it went to social orders within Great Britain and then in the 1800s the USA changed it into their national past time after the American Civil War. This historical fact is documented in textual academic research abd the story is published in a book, „Baseball Before We Knew it“
The best teams in Germany have figured out that there must be a developmental program that feeds to their first team, there must be a fan base that enjoys the baseball atmosphere, and their must be a social connection between players, organization, and community. the baseball game should be a party, a social meeting event, a contest that is fast paced and reported in the media. This is the entertainment portion of the game that captures sponsors who pay for the day to day operations of the game. Regensburg finally put it all together and is one of the few programs in Europe that have put the business and media marketing together with good quaility baseball performance.
With this being said…… all the media entertainment hype still does not compare with the true heart and passion of the game. Millions of people play this game around the world because it makes them a better human being after they participate. Individuals learn how to become mentally strong, flexible in spirit, tolerable of others, adabtable to circumstances, and physically conditioned which results in a better citizen within the community. Finally, it is the only game that requires a parent and a child to spend quality time with each other doing a simple task of playing catch. No economic, religious, social, or gender set of differences can destroy this simple sharing of actions between two individuals. This is why this game grows and continues to grow around the world.
Hans: Great insights, and everything in baseball is based on throwing and catching. So i guess thats where the big fundament is that everything is built on.
Frank: Yes, because if you teach an individual how to catch and throw properly then teaching an individual how to hit is a natural transition. Many of the physical fundamentals of throwing transfer to hitting. It is so cool and truly the secret to the game.
Hans: Thank you for your very specific answers Frank.
Isnt this great?! we just discovered the real secret of the game of baseball. If your team would like to host Frank Fulton for a local baseball camp or is interested in one of the other great projects he is initializing right now, then this is for you.
Hans Weisse D24