Campers learn 'Old School' way

Eighth anniversary of Oakmont's baseball camp
By: Kurt Johnson, The Press Tribune
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For the eighth consecutive year, local high school baseball coaches gathered to share the knowledge with the next generation of ballplayers at the Old School Baseball Camp at Oakmont High School. Oakmont coach Rick Ramirez started this summer-ending clinic nearly a decade ago in memory of Duane Perkins, the twin brother of Viking head coach Dean Perkins. Ramirez brings coaches from all over the area together to run a competitive camp for players age 14 through 18 that teaches the game they way he learned it. “The name of the camp comes from the way I was brought up to play,” Ramirez said. “You play hard and don’t pout. You play the game because it is fun to play.” The camp caps participation at 120, and ran a little short of that number this year, but it provides the athletes with four days of intense drills, followed by games on the fifth day. Just 60 players (15 each on four teams as selected by the coaches) are invited back for game day, putting an interesting twist on the end of the event. “The games they play on Friday give the kids a chance to show off what they picked up over the week,” said Roseville High coach Hank DeMello. “There is competition in life and baseball teaches you about life. The kids that worked hard and hustled are the ones that get picked for Friday. I have seen years where a stud pitcher or hitter didn't get picked for Friday. They didn't get the meaning of the camp. They were good players, but not respectful players.” It is the respect for the game that Ramirez hopes will be the most important lesson learned after the week of teaching. “You only get one chance to make a first impression,” Ramirez said. “You go to the yard and you never know who is in the stands that day.” DeMello loves the format of this camp. In addition to the fact that it is free to the participants, he feels it teaches valuable lessons, or “old school baseball.” “The kids today are a different breed,” DeMello said. “They are stuck on video games and they aren't getting the full experience of sports. The coaches of this camp all grew up playing sandlot baseball everyday over the summer. These kids like computers and tech games. This camp gives them the opportunity to respect the game, their opponent, and themselves. We get them to push themselves.” Clearly, the head Tiger is not the only one who feels that way as this camp draws coaches from as far away as Rio Linda, Elk Grove and even beyond the Sacramento area. The coaches keep coming back to share their love for the game of baseball with the young players who will carry the game forward. “Baseball coaches are a fraternity,” DeMello said. “All of these coaches are fortunate to be able to coach at the level we do. We are the last ones these kids get before manhood. We can leave a life lesson in every kid - not just the star, but also that kid that doesn't play a lot who works hard everyday.” With Roseville-area high schools beginning class on Monday, the past week should put the student-athletes in the proper frame of mind as they crack the books next week.