Cambria’s Little League Reds team came into this week with one main thing in mind — try and defeat the Morro Bay Brewers, the only team to beat the Reds this season so far. The Reds played the Brewers at Leffingwell field Tuesday and the Brewers (and the wind) blew the Reds away, 17-6.
Meanwhile, the AA Minor League Cambria Cardinals played Wednesday night in Los Osos (after press time), and their coach Bob Kasper, who was “a pretty good second baseman” for a Little League team growing up in Pond, Mo., says he is coaching in Cambria because “I love baseball.”
How much does Kasper love baseball? “I love baseball almost as much as I love my wife, and there are days when I love baseball more than my wife” he says, tongue firmly lodged in his cheek. He adds, “but those days are few and far between,”
Coaching boys aged 7 through 10 presents some challenges, but Kasper says he has coached this age group for five years because he would “love to have other people love the game as much as I do.”
Kasper, a Realtor who plays on a coed slow-pitch softball team, teaches his players sportsmanship as part of the socialization they learn from the game. For example, when his Cardinals get ahead by a huge score, he instructs his players not to steal bases, which would amount to rubbing salt in a wound.
“Last year we won one and lost 16,” he recalls, but this year, “we’re better than the team that is one and 16,” so the Cardinals’ players know how it feels to lose most games and they show respect for those lowly teams by not taking that extra base.
“Respect and teamwork — they learn that in baseball,” Kasper explains. “In baseball everybody on the team is involved. In basketball you can have one great player who shoots and shoots and shoots and scores lots of points — and totally dominates the game.
“In baseball you might have one really good batter, but everybody gets to bat at least once before that good hitter comes around again.”
Kasper has two boys, aged 9 and 10, and both play on his Cardinals team. Kasper makes sure there is no sense of favoritism by making his kids “sit out at least on average the same amount if not more than the other kids on the team.”
One of the attractive rules in Little League is that every kid gets a chance to play. So, whether a boy is a potentially great player or not, it’s the experience of being out there with other players, and learning social skills, that really matters when the dust settles on any given game.