Ten-year-old Lucas Turner ran several steps across the outfield of Moriarty High School’s baseball field, extended his glove out and caught a popup as he dropped to his knees and slid on the grass. A moment later, his younger brother Lawson took a turn doing the same. One by one, several other kids followed.
The popup-catching drill was one of many that kids were participating in this week at the Pintos Summer Baseball Camp.
The camp has been an annual summer event but was shelved last year due to Covid-19. Moriarty varsity baseball head coach Denny Young brought the camp back this year and made it a two-days-a-week event for three weeks.
Young said attendance had been decreasing at previous camps even before Covid, so he added a bonus this year to boost turnout.
“I found the four-letter magic word: free,” Young said.
The camp started on July 6 and is being held on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m.
On Tuesday, youth athletes as young as 5 and as old as 13 were participating.
“We have about 19 today, we’ve had about 30-35 kids between both days,” Young said.
Young, along with some of his assistant coaches, a few varsity players, and even a couple of recently-graduated players ran the kids through a series of drills to help them hone their skills.
They warm up, spend a few minutes playing catch, work on catching fly balls and fielding grounders, and wrap up with a round of batting.
“We’re here to learn,” Young said.
Some of the kids played Little League this past season and were wearing their team jerseys. Others were quite rusty and admitted they hadn’t touched a baseball in some time. One or two were newcomers who have never played before.
And that is Young’s underlying motive for holding the camp: to help fuel the kids’ passion for baseball.
“Just sharing the love of the game,” Young said. “I mean, that’s all it is, it’s sharing the love. I don’t think any of them is having a terrible time.”