Friday, 16 July 2010 00:00
It took several months, but winners of the Kevin Long hitting instruction lessons from the Syosset Baseball Association dinner back in November finally received their grand prize.
New York Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long came to Syosset-Woodbury Park to provide personal hitting instruction to the seven winners of the raffle that Syosset Baseball Association had at the November 2009 Annual Awards Dinner. Syosset Baseball worked with Mr. Long throughout the winter months to determine the optimum time that he would be available- between warm outdoor conditions for the Syosset-Woodbury fields, and the New York Yankees schedule. The Yankees schedule included spring training in Florida, which Mr. Long was present at, as well as the Yankees home schedule and days off.
June 14 was the best time for Mr. Long to take time out from his busy schedule to fulfill the children’s long-awaited wish to meet with him. The kids would get a chance to pick up the same batting tips that he provides to the likes of Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada and Nick Swisher, to name just a few of the Bronx Bombers he’s been helping along the way.
Mr. Long’s scheduled 4 p.m. arrival at Syosset-Woodbury Park was anticipated by the anxious players, many of whom arrived in Yankee gear. Mr. Long arrived and graciously and warmly greeted both players and parents, making everyone feel at home with the feeling that this was going to be one special day for each of them to remember.
As the session unfolded, he lined up all the players with bats in hand to address the proper batting stance, which provides the optimum swing and power when connecting with a baseball. He addressed each and every attendee individually. He corrected stances where needed, and then correcting swing follow-through before the children moved on to the next phase of the lesson.
Once Mr. Long was comfortable with his students, he then asked four players to go to the outfield to pick up the baseballs that would be forthcoming from phase two. Phase two was individual instruction off a batting tee. Mr. Long loaded each and every baseball onto the batting tee and observed and corrected each and every student’s swing until he was comfortable that they were making solid contact with the ball and demonstrating good hitting fundamentals.
He continued to stress that the tee phase is an integral part of the game, and that Alex Rodriguez takes 400 swings off the batting tee each and every day.
As each player concluded the tee phase, they were asked to bring one of the players in the outfield in for batting off the tee. This continued through all seven winners until phase three.
Phase three featured Mr. Long soft-tossing baseballs to the Syosset Baseball students from behind an L-Screen, with specific instructions guiding them on what little tweaks they would need to make to ensure proper contact and power. At the conclusion of phase three, he moved to the final phase, which was full pitching and batting practice for all players.
All players and parents left the field with tremendous confidence in their newfound skills thanks to Mr. Long’s professional guidance and instruction, and a warm feeling about the day that they’ll remember for quite a long time: receiving lessons from this professional baseball player that helps the pros from one of the greatest sports franchisees in the world, the New York Yankees.
Upon completion of the full workout instruction, Mr. Long took a break with all the kids to sit in the dugout and autograph their baseballs, baseball caps, and the Yankee shirts that they were wearing. One player even asked for his cleat to be signed, a request that Mr. Long graciously accommodated. His warm personality was reflective in the candid pictures that were taken with all the players, both individually and as a group, as the evening came to a heightened conclusion.
Syosset Baseball Association would like to extend their fondest appreciation to Mr. Long for taking the time from his busy schedule to join them for the afternoon and make this day happen for the league, community, and most importantly, the raffle winners and their families.
More information on Syosset Baseball Association can be found on the website at www.syossetbaseball.org.