March 27, 2001 11:00 pm


It was a really good time to go out there for two days and concentrate on baseball, to get us ready for the season, Joseph High School baseball coach Dave Schmidt said.

He referred to a seminar conducted Friday and Saturday by former San Francisco Giants second baseman Ron Hunt.

Those two days of good weather at the new Daggett Field in Joseph just added frosting on the cake for the Eagles, who beat the Grant Union JV to open the season last week.

Schmidt was pleased that Hunts voice of experience was there to emphasize the basic fundamentals, teamwork and commitment.

Look at them, theyve been spellbound for three hours straight, said Dr. Lew Baynes while looking over at the 20 players in the infield.

Everything is meat, from years of experience. Its just one pearl after another, Baynes said.

Hes old school no nonsense.

This game takes dedication. A lot of you will have to work at something you dont like, Hunt said, explaining how fortunate he felt to have had a career in baseball working at something he loved.

However, he reminded them it does not happen without dedication.

These are Hoosier measurements, he said, showing players how to estimate the best place to be in position to turn a double play.

Then he demonstrated a pickoff move.

Listen to my feet, he said. Thump, thump thump.

Quit lookin at it; first base has been there for 200 years, he said, mentoring players where to focus their attention. This is whats going to put you out, he said holding up a ball.

Go to the ball. Your body says no, but go to the ball no laying back.

Coach, make em do it, or make em run guaranteed to get the wax out of their ears.

Dont throw the ball. Flip it, like youre bowling. Its like throwing a dart.

A walking encyclopedia, is how Baynes described Hunt.

He goes wherever he can to promote baseball for kids who are interested, Baynes said, All over the United States, Canada, Holland.

Wallowa County has no summer baseball for older teen-agers. Baynes found Hunts non-profit organization and his two independent baseball teams on the Internet.

Baynes remembered Hunt playing pro ball hard-nosed, good, solid, fundamental baseball.

Baynes e-mailed Hunt about his son, Jimmy, a 6-foot-5, 190-pound pitcher.

Within 12 hours Hunt e-mailed back that he wanted Jimmy to play in his summer league. The season had already begun, but Hunt had three injured pitchers.

Jimmy Baynes boarded a plane to Knoxville, Tenn., to intercept the Independents on the road. The team plays daily against American Legion and small college teams.

After the season, Hunt wanted to see the Wallowa Mountains, so he accepted Baynes invitation to stay with them and conduct a clinic.

Wherever there are kids who want to play baseball, youll find him, Baynes said.

Story and photo by Gary Fletcher