La Jolla Youth Baseball wraps up 60th season

By Tom Murphy

La Jolla Youth Baseball

Watching the Little League World Series on ESPN and ABC reminds us how entertaining youth baseball is and how important the sport is around the world. No other youth sport gets this kind of media coverage. So it’s no surprise that La Jolla Youth Baseball just celebrated its 60th anniversary and the league is as strong as it has ever been.

None of this is possible without enthusiastic kids, their supportive parents, wonderful volunteer coaches, and generous sponsors. Congratulations on a successful season full of milestones and highlights.

— The Pony Division fielded three teams and participated in the 11-team San Diego Metro Youth Baseball Inter-League. The teams and managers finished up the season in the following order: RBC (Roy Agbulos), Simpson Delmore Greene (Jack Marshall) and Rotary Club of La Jolla (John McColl).

Both All Star teams advanced to the PONY Regional Tournament (13s and 14s). Brandon Nance and Michael Marshall led the league in home runs. Paul Delmore retired as Pony President, ending his five-year LP reign.

— The Bronco Division had five teams that finished the regular season, led by Aladdin Bail Bonds (Kris Smolinski), Harry’s Coffee Shop (Mike Campagna), Las Patronas (Dave Hammel), On the Inside Design (Mike Wintringer) and Mission Imprintables (Brian Moses & Kevin Mahony).

Aladdin beat Harry’s in the championship game. Coach Hammel led the 12s All Star team into the PONY Regional Tournament. Garrett Brown was LJYB’s Home Run King with 9 round-trips. Eric Brown was Bronco President.

— In the Mustang Division, Mitch’s Surf Shop (Wayne Young) finished the regular season ahead of Morgan Stanley (Bob Meyerott), Garage Door Medics (Brian Kelly), Pharmatek (Tim Scott), Drache Feld (Geoff Longenecker) and Baxter Foundation (Billy Egan).

Garage Door Medics beat Morgan Stanley in the championship game. Three All Star teams played in the PONY Section Tournament but did not advance. Patrick Ryan and Josh Newman hit the only home runs in Mustang. Neil Hyytinen served as Mustang President.

— With 12 teams competing in the Pinto division, the regular season ended with a tie at the top between Retirement Benefits Group (Jim Duffy) and Capital Growth Properties (Chris Hobbs), followed by Patterson Bike (Emmet Holden), Voices for Children (Bill Leutzow), PacVentures (John Dobak), Sector 9 (Dave Klimkiewicz), Solis Chiropractic (Michael Solis), Empire Beauty (Bryce Goldman), Herringbone Restaurant (Brian LaGrange), RAK (Doug Gans), San Diego Pools (Charles Hartford), and Garden Communities (Greg MacLean). Underdog PacVentures beat Capital Growth Properties in the championship game.

Three All Star teams competed in the PONY Section Tournament with Coach Duffy’s Red team advancing to the Region Tournament. Alex Brown led Pinto with three home runs. Brad Kates did an outstanding job as Pinto President.

— The Shetland Division experimented with smaller rosters and breaking the teams into Majors and Minors. The intent was to better prepare the older kids for tournament play and Pinto baseball the following year by introducing the pitching machine at the beginning of the season and allowing for more skill development. Minors were mostly first year players who used the batting tee for the first half of the season.

The eight Major teams were Bank of America Home Loans (Chris Circuit), California Bank & Trust (Mitch Yaruss), Donovan’s Prime Seafood (Marc Howard), La Jolla Playhouse (Jim Weaver), Makaira Partners (Greg Hansen), Party City (Mike Gibbs), SD Storage (Roy Clark), and Willis Allen Real Estate (Rick Macdonald).

The Minors teams included Brockton Villa (Michael Cairns), Jersey Mike’s of La Jolla (Mike McBride), Kiwanis Club of La Jolla (Philip Boczanowski), Murfey Construction (Scott Murfey), and Scoma Pediatric Dentistry (Ellen MacLean).

The two Shetland All Star teams placed 1st and 2nd in the Tecolote Memorial Day Tournament and for the second consecutive season sent a team all the way to the PONY World Series led by Coach Walter Birnbaum. Kudos to Shetland President Greg Hansen for introducing innovations with great results.

— Behind the scenes, LJYB is run by a hands-on volunteer Board of Directors under the leadership of President Jim Benham, Tom Murphy (Vice President & Sponsorships), Tim Scott (Fields & Equipment), Jim Duffy (Registration & Technology), Brian LaGrange (Uniforms & Awards), Rick Macdonald (Player Development), and Dan Ryan (Treasurer). Heidi Dowd is the new part-time administrator and the only paid person in LJYB.

More than 50 volunteer coaches were certified by the Positive Coaching Alliance for attending the “Double Goal Coach” workshop hosted by LJYB and underwritten by a generous family.

LJYB became a better league because of its partnership with PCA. The workshops will be available to all LJYB parents in 2013. Look for a notice in early January.

A special thanks goes to the San Diego Padres for including LJYB in their Youth Baseball Initiative in 2012 and 2013. The brainchild of Padres CEO Tom Garfinkel, the YBI was designed to put a Padres jersey on every Little League kid in San Diego — more than 11,000 authentic MLB Majestic jerseys were donated in the 2012 season alone.

This initiative has never been attempted before in Major League Baseball and the program attracted significant national attention. LJYB is the only PONY league to be included in this incredible outreach program and we are deeply appreciative of their generosity.

We want to particularly acknowledge and thank Sue Botos, the Padres Vice President of Community Affairs and her tireless team for taking on this monumental task and turning it into a huge success for the all of the kids included in the program. More information at