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Samoa, fourth posting

Oct 26, 2015 - Posted by Ralph R. Zobell at 12:37 pm | Permalink

Fourth report from Brent Haring, head coach for the American Samoa National Team:

Today was a busy day. We did four school visits where we met with different groups of kids. Our group was humbled by the kids. Each group with the exception of one gave thanks by singing a traditional Samoan hymn. When the time came to sing they would each grab the hand of those sitting next to them and then harmonize the hymn acapella. Their voices are stunning and it really hits you right in the heart. Following the school visits the Parks and Recreation department as well as the American Samoa Basketball Association hosted a free basketball clinic that we were able to instruct at. It was a great turnout as kids came from all parts of the island. What a great day but as you can imagine we are dead tired as we were going from early this morning until late this evening. Until tomorrow!!!

Samoa, third posting

Oct 23, 2015 - Posted by Ralph R. Zobell at 10:45 am | Updated: October 23, 2015 7:05 pm | Permalink

Third report from Brent Haring, head coach for the American Samoa National Team:

This morning we got up and went to Pesega High School, which is owned and operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We had a great reception from Principal Leauanae and his students. We were all blown away by the beautiful voices of the students as they harmonized the hymn We Thank Thee Oh God For A Prophet. It was truly amazing. We then boarded a flight back to Pago Pago American Samoa, once again we crossed the International Dateline so we returned on Thursday, so this is our second Thursday on this trip. When we returned we had a clinic that was put together by the Parks and Recreation department as well as the American Samoa Baseball Program. The boys and girls that attended were a blast to work with! What an incredible opportunity to pass along what we have to these young kids. Tomorrow we have another busy day, can't wait to see what it brings!!

Samoa, second posting

Oct 22, 2015 - Posted by Ralph R. Zobell at 10:40 am | Permalink

Second report from Brent Haring, head coach for the American Samoa National Team:

This morning we skipped Wednesday by flying to the island of Apia Samoa which is 25 hours ahead of American Samoa. We went to the Apia market and then drove around the island to our hotel. What a beautiful island. When we got to the hotel we each took some time to get into the ocean and pool. We then had a traditional Samoan meal with a fiafia show with the traditional singing and dancing along with a fire knife dance. Tomorrow we look forward to doing a devotional at Pesega Church School and a chance to visit the temple grounds. Tofa soifua!

Samoa, first posting

Oct 21, 2015 - Posted by Ralph R. Zobell at 11:28 am | Permalink

First report from Brent Haring, head coach for the American Samoa National Team:

Talofa lava from Pago Pago, American Samoa. After two long flights (six hours from Salt Lake City to Honolulu and five hours from Honolulu to Pago Pago) our group (Brian Santiago and his wife Kimberly and son Colson, Coach Mike Littlewood and his wife Dani, and Coach Brent Haring his wife Mary and son Tomasi as well as father in law Panana Falatea) arrived to a most welcoming party from American Samoa. They escorted us to the Tradewinds Hotel, although it was only 10:00 p.m. here it was 3:00 a.m. back in Provo and we were spent. Knowing that we had an early morning we all hit the pillow for much needed rest.

First thing Tuesday morning Brian, Coach Littlewood, and I all went to the radio station for an interview where Senior Associate AD Brian Santiago got fired up about his Yankees being eliminated from postseason. Following the radio we met up with the rest of the party for a sit down with the Lieutenant Governor Lemanu Peleti Mauga. What a treat! From there we had a welcoming lunch hosted by the American Samoa Parks and Recreation department along with the Director of Women's Athletics and the President of the Baseball Association and Olympic Committee on a beach front resort. The food was fantastic and the views were even better. We then went to a baseball/softball clinic put on by the Parks and Recreation department where there was close to 100 boys and girls here on the island. It was great to be around these kids that want to learn and get better. After the clinic and dinner it is off to bed as we prepare to journey to the island of Upolu in Samoa first thing tomorrow morning. Until tomorrow manuia le po.

May Baseball Blog

May 26, 2015 - Posted by Ralph R. Zobell at 7:12 am | Updated: May 26, 2015 9:54 am | Permalink

POPPING BUTTONS: There have been several proud moments during the season. Among the top is a true button-popping celebration at home plate following Jarrett Jarvis' walk-off home run in a 4-3 victory at Saint Mary's College. All six-buttons were ripped off Jarvis' jersey No. 16 in the celebration which not only gave BYU the win, but the No. 3 seed going into the WCC Tournament. If buttons could sprout instead of being popped off, then seeds for future Cougar victories have been planted among the lost buttons at Louis Guisto Field. Log on to see the walk-off home run by Jarvis at Saint Mary's.

SEASON'S GREETINGS: Not at Christmas time, but at the end of the regular season were greetings exchanged between a couple of Cougars and some acquaintances on the UNLV baseball team. Now in different leagues, players from the two teams were staying at the same hotel prior to BYU playing at Santa Clara and UNLV playing at San Jose State. As the Cougars got off the bus at the hotel, greetings were exchanged between Cole Wilstead, Tanner Chauncey and Brennon Lund with some of the Rebels. Wilstead played previously at UNLV where he hosted Rebel Joey Armstrong on a recruiting trip and exchanged greetings this month with him, a former roommate and some other buddies on that team. Chauncey is from Las Vegas and knew several of the 17 Nevadans on the UNLV roster. Lund knew a Utahn from West Jordan on the Rebel roster. UNLV got rained out its first night in San Jose, while BYU was able to play nearby at Santa Clara that same night after a welcome, long-needed rain to drought stricken California.

BANDAGES PART ONE & TWO: Part one was the bandage removed somewhat from junior outfielder Eric Urry, who dislocated his middle finger on his throwing hand last month. Urry pinch-ran in the Santa Clara and Pacific series this month and in the WCC Tournament game against San Diego. Prior to the Santa Clara series, he was permitted to take dry swings off a hitting tee and could have hit a whiffle ball. He then took a pinch-hit at bat in the make-up game at Saint Mary's.

Part two, is a splint applied to the thumb of team manager Brett Adams who dislocated it diving for a home run shot in the pre-game batting practice by the Los Angeles Dodgers at AT&T Ballpark in San Francisco. The Giants hosted the Cougars on the field for their batting practice prior to the Cougars going to places like the right field seats above McCovey Cove. Adams eventually retrieved the ball and received treatment in an aid station at the ballpark.

POPULAR TWEET:  Our hostess who helped the BYU team get on the field at AT&T Ballpark was in charge of social media for the San Francisco Giants.  She took this photo of Kolton Mahoney and some of his teammates taking a selfie at the Giants' batting practice, posted it on San Francisco's team twitter site and we retweeted it.  That tweet is one of the most popular tweets on BYU's twitter account. You can view this popular tweet on this link.

PRO CHANGES: Marcus Littlewood, son of head coach Mike Littlewood, was promoted earlier this month from the Seattle Mariner's club in Bakersfield, California, to the Jackson Generals in Tennessee where he will play in the same AA league as former Cougars Jacob Hannemann and Adam Miller. Former Cougar Matt Carson was traded back to the Oakland A's from his AAA assignment in Oklahoma with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

SUMMER LEAGUE ASSIGNMENTS: Brennon Lund and Mason Marshall to the Battle Creek Bombers in Michigan; Riley Gates to the Duluth Huskies in Minnesota; Blake Brailsford to Newark; Maverik Buffo and Colton Shaver to the Washington D.C. Grays; Seth Huxford to the Saskatoon Yellow Jackets in Saskatchewan, Canada; Brady Corless to Orleans in the Cap Cod League; Brian Hsu to the Menlo Oaks in California; Court Iorg and Keaton Cenatiempo to the Palm Springs Power in California; Bronson Larsen and Cole Wilstead to the Bellingham Bells in Washington; and Wyatt Padgett to the Rochester Honkers in New York;

DROUGHT IN DRY CREEK: BYU's baseball team took a day off on the Sunday when it was in transit in California to attend church services in Campbell, California, after completing the three-game series at Santa Clara prior to winning the make-up game the next day at Saint Mary's College. The Cougars attended the Dry Creek Ward Conference where they learned more about the drought in California. Ironically, it had rained in nearby San Jose a couple days earlier and there was a steady rain back home in Utah. In a game the end of last month at Utah Valley University there was an out-pouring of water when the sprinklers accidently turned on for 10 minutes in the seventh inning of BYU's 5-2 victory.

OLDEST FAN: No word on how old this gentleman was, but Coach Mike Littlewood stopped en route to a post-game interview in the press box at Santa Clara to chat with a man using a walker. The man said he was the oldest Cougar fan in San Jose, so Littlewood had Cougar equipment manager Steve Bushman present the elderly fan with an official BYU baseball cap. The oldest BYU fan in Stockton was 86-year-old Dee Bird (BYU class `55 bachelors & '59 masters) who watched BYU play Pepperdine in the WCC Tournament.To see Dee Bird on our Twitter account, go to this link.

VIDEO CLIPS: In case you missed them, here's links to the play at Santa Clara which robbed Bronson Larsen of a sure double and Coach Mike Littlewood being "miked" up at the WCC Tournament.

April Baseball Blog

Apr 16, 2015 - Posted by Ralph R. Zobell at 9:52 pm | Updated: April 17, 2015 12:22 pm | Permalink

FIRESIDE IN SAN DIEGO: Last month before upsetting No. 29 San Diego State the night before, BYU baseball held a fireside where coach Mike Littlewood, catchers Jarrett Jarvis and Grant Hodges and first baseman Cole Wilstead all spoke on the theme overcoming adversity.

Wilstead pointed out the story of the apostle Peter losing sight of his goal when he had been walking on the water, then started sinking. Jarvis spoke about his wife's bout with illness, and Hodges spoke on "why me?" as he told of having to come home early from a mission to Utah because of migraine headaches. Among the questions asked by youth in attendance was how BYU players felt about not playing on Sunday.

GRADUATION THIS MONTH: Jeff Barker (economics) and Dillon Robinson (finance) from this season's team are scheduled to graduate this month and Brandon Kinser (geography) is scheduled to graduate in August.  From last year's team, Kelton Caldwell (geography) and Brock Whitney (exercise science) are scheduled to graduate this month and Bret Lopez graduated last December (exercise science).

PRO ASSIGNMENTS: Adam Law, outfielder for the single A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (BYU) and coach Mike Littlewood's son Marcus Littlewood, catcher, Bakersfield Blaze are in the same league in California where the BYU mentor watched them play following the Cougars' games at LMU and Cal State Northridge.

Match the rest of the assignments for former Cougars playing in the pro ranks:

Jaycob Brugman, outfielder   AA Mobile Baybears
Matt Carson, outfielder
  A Myrtle Beach Pelicans
Taylor Cole, pitcher   Kansas City Royals
Jeremy Guthrie, pitcher   AA New Hampshire Fisher Cats
Jacob Hannemann, outfielder   AAA Oklahoma City Dodgers
Adam Miller, pitcher   AA Midland RockHounds

Answer: Reverse the order of the columns

PROSPECTIVE FOOTBALL TEAM: The Cougar baseball team could field a partial football team with players who had the following positions for their high school teams:
Punters: Paxton Larson and Keaton Cenatiempo
Tight End: Cole Wilstead
Linebacker: Colton Shaver and Dallen Reber
Quarterback: Wyatt Padgett.

Speaking of Shaver, here's a link to an interesting story about him losing a rib in high school due to a blood clot.

MISSION CALLS: James Barker and Paxton Larson are processing mission papers, but have not yet received their calls. The two freshmen are the only Cougars residing in Helaman Halls dormitories.

SPOTLIGHT TRAINER ALEX DAVIS: The Cougar trainer has an extensive playing career as a prep baseball player at Pleasant Grove High School in Utah. An anonymous source says: Alex was the starting shortstop for Utah Hall of Fame coach Jon Hoover. He was also the starting shortstop for the Utah State University baseball club. While at USU he played against Coach Littlewood and his staff when they were at Dixie State. While he was getting his graduate degree at Weber State he was an athletic trainer intern for the Salt Lake Bees and worked on future major league players such as Mark Trumbo, Hank Conger and Peter Bourjos.

TUCKETT TRAVELS: Former BYU athletic director/baseball coach Glen Tuckett continued his travels earlier this month when he attended the funeral of contemporary baseball coach “Bobo” Brayton, 89, of Washington State in Pullman. Tuckett’s record vs. Brayton was 6-5.

March Baseball Blog

Mar 17, 2015 - Posted by Ralph R. Zobell at 1:55 pm | Updated: March 20, 2015 9:12 pm | Permalink

TWITTER TWEET: "Another Colton, Cole Wilstead this time with a 2-out homer past 388 mark in right center for a 2-0 Cougar lead in 2nd." That's what we tweeted after Wilstead followed Colton Shaver with a home run at Utah Valley University earlier this month.  That tweet prompted fellow St. Georgian Dallin Reber to quip to Wilstead, "Hey, Ralph thinks your first name is Colton," to which Wilstead informed him, "It is."  Wilstead chooses to go by the shorter version Cole instead of his official first name Colton, not to be confused with Kolton Mahoney.

LITTLEWOOD BIG LEAGUE: Coach Mike Littlewood's son Marcus was called up last month to the big league squad of the Seattle Mariners, at least for the duration of Spring Training. In addition to bullpen duties as a catcher, he got a stint as a pinch-runner and had one at-bat in another game.  He joined the big league club the week BYU played Nebraska at the Peoria facility.

"HOG HEAVEN": Former BYU coach Glen Tuckett has a rendezvous this week at Spring Training in Arizona with his former players Gary Pullins, Jeff Bills, Dr. Tom Fife, Dennis Lamb (BYU's first baseball All-American) and Larry Romney.  Some of the group will also dine with former Cougars Vance and Adam Law and Jaycob Brugman while in Arizona. Some also got to rub shoulders with Dodger great Tommy LaSorda at a White Sox-Mariner game. The White Sox played the Angels in another game viewed by the former Cougars, who also met with former Major League pitcher Bruce Hurst from St. George.

EAGLE LANDS: James Barker officially became the 11th Eagle Scout on the team last December when he returned home for Christmas vacation.  A delay in his Eagle project made the official presentation occur after his 18th birthday last October.  He earned over 40 merit badges, but that delay did not leave time for official presentation of Eagle Palms.  His Eagle Project was laying brick and mortar for a pad at an elementary school near his home.

THAT'LL LEAVE A MARK: Colton Shaver was twice hit by a pitch in the finale against the University of Hartford in Provo earlier this month. Following the Saturday game when he was asked if the ball left any marks on him.  The muscular Shaver replied, "No, I left some marks on the ball."

MEASURE UP: How tall is Mason Marshall?  He says he is 5-foot-10, having "grown" a couple inches while on his mission to the Philippines (he was listed as 5-foot-8 as a freshman).  Pitching coach Jeremy Thomas stands 5-foot-10 (he was listed as 6-foot-0 as a Cougar senior in 1999) and says he is taller than Marshall and also threw a couple miles per hour faster than the Mantis.

TWITTER TWEET, TOO (TWO): Twitter dialog during the UVU game from former players was interesting.  We tweeted: "Ditto Marshall for the 7th like the 6th after BYU set down in order; 1-3, 1-3, KS x2 for the Mantis; BYU 3-2 top of order."  For a fun dialogue regarding this tweet between former Cougars Ryan Bernal, Adam and Andrew Law and Alex Wolfe, log on to:

February Baseball Blog

Feb 23, 2015 - Posted by Ralph R. Zobell at 11:18 am | Updated: March 3, 2015 2:37 pm | Permalink

MORNINGSIDE:  Oklahoma’s baseball public address announcer also teaches at the Institute of Religion and arranged for the Cougars to participate at a Morningside this Friday, but those plans were scrubbed for BYU's baseball team when the Oklahoma series was moved to Las Vegas due to inclement weather.

PILOT FATHER: Outfielder Eric Urry’s father, John, was an extra proud captain (pilot) on last week’s US Air flight the Cougars flew to Phoenix. Eric flew one other time when his father was piloting the plane he was on, that was with his mother to New York. On the Phoenix flight, Captain Urry welcomed passengers over the microphone and then said he wanted to give a special shout out to the BYU baseball team of which his son is a member.

FORMER PLAYERS WATCHING NEBRASKA SERIES: From the Coach Tuckett era: Steve Hart (1968-69). From the Coach Pullins era: Brent Brown (1985-91). From the Coach Law/Littlewood era: Chris Howard (2010-14).

PLAYERS' PARENTS AT ARIZONA: Here’s a partial sighting of players' parents who watched sons play in the BYU-Nebraska series at Peoria in the 70-degree weather:  Barker’s, Buffo’s, Cenatiempo’s, Corless’, Kinser’s, Larson’s, Nielsen’s, Marshall’s, Padgett’s, Reber’s, Robinson’s, Rogers’, Rucker’s, Starr’s and Urry’s.

BLACK & WHITE: The Cougars wore their Anthracite charcoal-colored uniforms in the final game against Nebraska. Some fans worried the uniforms might have been too hot in the Arizona sun, but coach Mike Littlewood says the new uniforms are actually quite comfortable.  Littlewood says fans might see the team wear the anthracite uniforms on either Thursday or Friday nights, borrowing the look from UC Irvine a couple years ago or TCU last year.  Look for the Cougars to also wear a throwback cream-colored uniform on Thursday home games and some midweek home games.

PAST PLAYERS/COACHES: Here’s a list of some former Cougar players and coaches who were in attendance at last month’s second annual First Pitch Fundraiser with Jeff Kent: Tim Anderson, Michel Bergeron, Jeff Bills, Ryan Chambers, Casey Cloward, Jonathan Cluff *, Tyler Dabo, David Decker, Tom Fife, Dane and Seth Iorg, Dave Jensen *, Kory Knell *, Adam *, Vance and Vernon Law, Mike Littlewood, Blair Lucas, Adam Miller, Bobby Noel, James Platt, Ben Saylor *, Bryce Searle, Brandon Taylor *, Glen Tuckett, Wade Vest, Ranger Wiens *, Brock Whitney *, and Randy Wilstead. The players marked with an asterisk* received the Cameron Tuckett Award that evening, too.

MORE ON FIRST PITCH:  Former Cougar David Decker (1997-98), owner of CMS, in Orem near Walmart, out-bid others at the First Pitch Dinner to make the Arizona trip with BYU's team. Decker brought along his son Camden (named after Camden Yard, close to where they lived in Maryland), who served as the ball boy for the Cougars during the Nebraska series.

NICKNAMES:  Among the nicknames tossed around the team is “Chief” for Hayden Nielsen and “Junior” not James, to distinguish Jeff Barker from younger brother James. Pac Man is Paxton Larson. Pancake is for Cole Wilstead and Jimmy is for James Lengal.

NOT THE BADGE, BUT THE STORE: Maverik Buffo does not use the letter ‘C’ in spelling his first name, unlike the badge of the lawman, but like the convenience store. However, Buffo’s father Steve confessed when Maverik was a toddler, the family wrote their names in a newly poured cement slab. Because Maverik was too young, his father wrote his name in the cement, spelling it with a ‘C.’ Steve Buffo is the owner of Buffo’s Pest Control that has offices in Provo, Salt Lake City and St. George. When Maverik isn’t playing summer baseball, he occasionally works for his father to earn extra cash.

ANXIOUSLY ENGAGED: Five players on the team are now engaged, preparing to join the list of eight teammates who are married. The engaged players are Kolton Mahoney, Hayden Nielsen, Dallen Reber and Eric Urry.

LANGUAGES & ETHNICITY ON TEAM: Spanish (Gates, Padgett, Reber, Urry and Whitney), Portuguese (Huxford, Isom and Chauncey), Tagalog (Marshall), Cebuano and Ilocano (Wilstead) are the languages. James and Jeff Barker are half Japanese. Brian Hsu is part Chinese and part Korean. Maverik Buffo is three-quarter Italian and his grandfather lived in Italy.

ANOTHER AMBIDEXTROUS GUY: Joining Brandon Kinser in the ambidextrous category is teammate Cole Wilstead who bats left,  throws left,  writes right and dunks with either hand. Wilstead said his  brother Cody, who signed as a QB with BYU and now has a mission call to Neuquén, Argentina this April, “never will dunk on me, I’d foul him first.” Cole said his father Randy, a former pro and Cougar All-American, would take the ball out of Cole’s right hand as a toddler and put it in Cole’s left hand. Cole took yoga classes at UNLV before transferring to BYU to improve his ability to stretch as a first baseman.

SHAGGING FOR FUNGOS: Don’t be surprised if you see a girl catching balls tossed in after coaches hit fungos in warmups for the team.  The young lady is Heather Black, one of the team’s trainers, who used to be a pitcher for Southern Utah’s softball team.

TRANSFERRED: Trace Hansen is playing at West Texas A&M in Canyon, and JC Snyder is playing at Angelo State in San Angelo, Texas.

January Baseball Blog

Jan 26, 2015 - Posted by Ralph R. Zobell at 10:25 am | Updated: January 26, 2015 4:04 pm | Permalink

ROGERS MARRIES: Sophomore left-hander Hayden Rogers got married to Katie Rigby last month. Katie plays soccer for the University of Utah and teammate Andy Isom’s wife plays for the BYU soccer team. Other married players on BYU’s team are Jeff Barker, Jarrett Jarvis, Brandon Kinser, Dillon Robinson, Michael Rucker and Derrick Whitney, who is the younger brother of Brock from last year’s team.  At this point, two other Cougars are engaged to be married to their fiancées after the season, Kolton Mahoney and Dallen Reber.

GREEN SCREEN SHOTS: BYU’s baseball players got their green screen pictures taken at the BYUtv building earlier this month. Those photos will be used for introductory lineups for the 10 games televised by BYUtv and two by the Pac-12 Network this season. In addition to having their photos taken, Kolton Mahoney, Tanner Chauncey, James Lengal, Brandon Kinser, Dillon Robinson, Jeff Barker, Hayden Nielsen and Jarrett Jarvis recorded sound bites to be used in promoting shows on BYUtv. Mahoney and Bronson Larsen did behind the camera ball-tossing to each other for those intros.

HARING, KINSER BABIES: Assistant coach Brent Haring and senior pitcher Brandon Kinser became proud fathers last year. Haring’s son was born in October and Kinser’s daughter was born on Thanksgiving Day. Pitcher Jeff Barker’s wife Kylie is expecting in May.

TUCKETT IN ORLANDO: Former BYU baseball coach and athletic director Glen Tuckett got back earlier this month from Orlando, Florida, where he attended meetings with the American Baseball Coaches Association. Tuckett, who attended those meetings with his wife Jo, is on the board of directors for the ABCA along with former BYU coach Gary Pullins, who also was in Florida.

PRO’s AROUND: Jacob Hannemann, Jaycob Brugman, Taylor Cole and Adam Law have been in Provo the past several weeks during the off-season and have been working out alongside BYU baseball players as well as coach Mike Littlewood’s son, Marcus.

ARIZONA GAMES: BYU’s four-game series against Nebraska next month at Peoria, Arizona, wil be played at the same time as the Big12/Pac 12 Challenge in Mesa, Surprise, Goodyear and Peoria. The next weekend is the Phoenix Municipal Classic. The opening weekend is the Grand Canyon Phoenix Classic and at the Surprise Tournament.

Grand Canyon Phoenix Classic        
Feb. 13-15 Grand Canyon Bradley Nebraska-Omaha N. Dakota St.
Surprise Tournament        
Feb. 13-16 Michigan St. New Mexico Northwestern Oregon St.

Peoria Tournament

Peoria Sports Complex, 16101 No. 83rd Avenue, Peoria, AZ

Feb. 19-21 BYU Nebraska    
Big 12/Pac 12 Challenge        
Mesa, Surprise, Goodyear, Peoria        
Feb. 19-22 Kansas Washington Washington St. Utah
  Kansas St. Oklahoma Oklahoma St. Oregon St.
ASU Phoenix Municipal Classic        
Feb. 26-Mar. 1 Gonzaga Purdue Cal-Bakersfield Arizona St.

KINSER LEFT-HANDED: We didn’t realize Brandon Kinser was left-handed until he signed in for those green screen shots at the BYUtv building this month. The only thing Kinser does right-handed is pitch, hit or anything to do with throwing or shooting a basketball. His older brother is exactly the same way. Kicking is almost even with either leg.

ON COOG TUBE: In case you missed it, check out these links for some Coog Tube reports on Brady Corless and Jacob Hannemann.

CAMERON TUCKETT AWARD: Coach Glen Tuckett presented nine plaques for winners of the Cameron Tuckett Award, including the most recent winner from 2014 Brock Whitney. Playing “catch-up,” Tuckett also presented plaques to past winners Tanner Chauncey (2012), Jonathan Cluff (2010), Dave Jensen (2002), Kory Knell (2004), Adam Law (2013), Ben Saylor (2006), Brandon Taylor (2005) and Ranger Wiens (2003), all of whom were in attendance at the second annual First Pitch Dinner this month in Provo. Look here to see a list of past winners of the Cameron Tuckett Award.

JEFF KENT AT FIRST PITCH DINNER: Remarks of former Major Leaguer Jeff Kent at last Saturday's annual BYU First Pitch dinner:

"This "Y" means a lot here, but it represents quite a bit outside this state. In Texas where I live, been there about 20 years in Austin, it represents respect, a fraternity of people, family, honor, integrity, moral standard and all those things that you try to instill upon your family.

Baseball was a passion of mine, love, a game that you can never conquer. And why is it that you can’t conquer this game? Why is it as a hitter than you fail 70 percent of the time? It’s a crazy game. It's so unpredictable. And that’s what I love. I have always tried to conquer the unconquerable. I always had a Leatherman tool on my hip, I was always fixing something. In baseball you can’t fix it. Why is it that you can’t win all the time? That’s what motivated me in the game.

It made me an edgy player. People didn’t get to know who I was. I was criticized for being hard nosed, a jerk, an overachiever, aloof, a homophobe, a feminist, a racist. If you know who I am and you watched how I play, you thought, “there’s no way that guy’s a Mormon.” You've watched me to do some pretty outrageous things, but I’ve learned it all through church basketball. What I’m most proud of is being a baseball player. What made me a father was being a baseball player.

Throughout my career I learned about sacrifice. Earlier in my career when I was in high school, I learned to set goals. It was done by a simple gesture by my father. My dad made a bet with me that if I got a scholarship to college, he'd buy me a pickup truck. That was the biggest starting point in my career; it gave me direction and purpose. I got that scholarship to Cal even though I wanted to go to BYU.

If I go to BYU, I’m going on a mission. My freshman year came easy; I made All-Pac-10 as a freshman. The sophomore jinx hit me. It was the first time in my life that baseball was out of control. I broke down and saw a sports psychologist. He told me you are not fearful of failure, you have a fear of success.

I needed to be a little more self-motivated. My junior year I had a decent year, breaking my wrist, but I got drafted in the 20th round. The Blue Jays came to my door and offered me $10,000. I was ready and I was willing to trade my baseball talents for an education to get a real job.

A third major learning experience was told to me by a big bodybuilder dude when I was in the minor leagues. I never wanted to lift weights. I knew I needed to take myself to the next level. I asked is there something I can do to give me a boost. He looked at me and said, “Look son, there is no substitute for hard work.” I started lifting weights and was looking at myself in the mirrors. That was a revelation. No substitute for hard work. Internally I didn’t that acceptance of it, but it motivated me. I was lifting five days a week for three hours. I was putting everything I could because I knew there was no substitute for hard work. I was lucky enough to get called up to the big leagues.

In my first at bat in Toronto, I had an 0-2 count, then 2-2 and started fouling balls off left and right. I must have fouled off about 10 pitches and finally drove a ball into the gap. I’m standing on second base and looking at the crowd of 50,000 standing on their feet. All that could come to my mind was, “I made it.” That was a special moment. I was all by myself. All that work and all the sacrifice.

Later on in my career I’m reminded of a story Tommy LaSorda told. There are three kinds of people in the world. There are those people who wonder what happened, those who watch what happen and those who make it happen. At that moment, I was able to make it happen. Be that third person that makes things happen. Don’t just watch things go by you or watch or wonder. He talked about three D’s, desire, dedication and determination. Tommy always said, "The difference between impossible and possible is your determination."

It boils down to what kind of person you are. Do you work hard when other people aren’t watching you? Do you work on your weaknesses? I wanted to be better at what I wasn’t good at. In the big leagues, they play to your weakness all the time. Be prepared for those.

One characteristic that I learned early on in my career is “staying power.” Great athletes can get there. Once you get there, you gotta stay. Staying power comes from the head. I talked about slowing the game down, using your head. It applies to all life; can you keep your head in the game? It applies to all life. Can you keep your head in the game and made those decisions when they need to be made.

I had a coach when I was traded from the Blue Jays to the Mets in 1992. The Blue Jays went on to win the World Series; I went from the best to the worst team. At that moment I learned I didn’t have the staying power. A new coach, Dallas Green, all he could talk about was head and heart. He was talking to me, because I was the one that was listening to him. That was a guy that motivated me to use my head if I wanted some staying power.

I was soon traded to the Indians and then I found my destiny was with the San Francisco Giants. They traded for me, the third biggest block-buster trade I was involved in, with Dusty Baker. Everything started to fall into place and mesh for me.

I remember vividly about a fact that I played for three years in San Francisco. We were getting ready to open up a new ball park. Managers give you the first-of-the-year pep talk and Dusty was saying, “I feel better about this year than last year.” I was losing faith.

I read a quote by a prophet who would have been an awesome baseball player and that was Gordon B. Hinckley.  “If there is one thing that you and I need, to help us find success and fulfillment in this world, it is faith-that dynamic, powerful, marvelous element by which, as Paul declared, the very worlds were framed (see Hebrews 11:3). I refer to a practical, working faith-the kind of faith that moves us to get on our knees and plead with the Lord for guidance and then having a measure of divine confidence, get on our feet and go to work to help bring the desired results to pass. There is no obstacle too great, no challenge too difficult, if we have faith.” That was a neat revelation and completed the formula for success in 2000. I was lacking faith. I needed to believe in my God that he would help me. I needed to have faith in all the things I had done over my career. I needed to step back and relax a bit and have faith, that was the key.

Tom Holmoe live in the cul-de-sac that we were in and he gave me some good pieces of advice. That ending formula that I had that propelled me to have the best year of my career. 

I played in the steroid era; an era that I'm not proud of, that era is embarrassing to me. I promise you this, I held true to my moral standards. The standards of the Church, the standards that I represent of the temple recommend that I held in my back pocket. I’m proud of that MVP award that I won in 2000. All the things I learned were accomplished. We were the best team in baseball.

Two years later we were down 10 games, I was fighting for my life, I found the wrong guy to fight with and that was Barry Bonds. I knew we were a good team. I can tell you this, an inning later after our big scuffle and he hit a home run in that game and I hit a home run and won the wild card that year.

We were going to win the World Series. They had wrapped the entire locker room in plastic before the game was over because they knew we were going to win. We lost and they had to rip that plastic down so fast before we got in. All you could see was ripped tape and masking tape. Everybody was sitting down taking their uniforms off. I stood up and turned around and looked at all my teammates and I was upset. I was scared and didn’t say anything. That's the one regret that I have in my life. I would have done this and would have punched Barry Bonds in the face. Why, because all the attention would be drawn on that instead of losing game six. We came back to game seven and I knew we were going to lose. The atmosphere was taken right out of our hearts.

Life in this game was a journey for me. This game is more individual than people think it is. It's a team game, no doubt about it. The great thing about this game is when you add your individual effort with your teammates; it translates into a win for your team. This game is so unpredictable, but a better part of this game is that you get another swing, or another at bat, or another chance tomorrow. What goals we outta have is learn from my mistakes. I embraced my mistakes. I processed them so the next time I had the chance; I either eliminated that mistake or was able to do good against that mistake.

I have lived by a saying that I'd rather be respected than loved. You can’t please everybody. I've been respected in this game. There’s some people who hate me and I like that. I was able to earn respect throughout my career. There’s always a second chance in baseball.

You represent not only the school you play for, but you represent fans that didn’t go to school here and that’s me.

Barry Bonds was a motivator to me. He was the best player in the game. We had a love-hate relationship. We weren’t brothers, but on the field we complemented one another, but don’t’ tell anybody that.

I always wanted to be the best."

June Baseball Blog

Jun 03, 2014 - Posted by Ralph R. Zobell at 8:34 am | Updated: June 8, 2014 5:40 pm | Permalink

VOTE FOR LOPEZ: Cast your vote on Facebook for Cougar designated hitter Bret Lopez to become The Fan’s Choice Award champion honored at the 2014 TD Ameritrade Home Run Derby, airing Thursday, July 3 on ESPN at 8:30 p.m. ET. While Lopez, the past co-chair of the Cougar Athletic Council, is not hitting in the derby, the only way he can get to Omaha is through your vote to help him win. Round 1 voting will take place from 12:00 pm CT on May 27 until 11:59 am CT on June 9. The top 10 vote-getters will advance to the next round.  Round 2 voting will take place from 12:00 pm CT on June 9 until 11:59 am CT on June 16. The top 4 vote-getters will advance to Round 3.  Round 3 voting will take place from 12:00 pm CT on June 16 until 11:59 am CT on June 23.

LITTLEWOOD’S BIG BAT: While in Portland last month when the Cougars swept the season-ending series, Coach Mike Littlewood was searching for a copy of Sports Illustrated which chronicled his son’s part in one of the biggest rallies in minor league history. That copy of Sports Illustrated featured Milwaukee’s Carlos Gomez on the cover, but in the Rockies, Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durrant was on the cover. The account said “…it was 17-13, one out, bases loaded, catcher Marcus Littlewood coming up. His wife, Nicole (her name is actually Morgan and she plays for BYU’s women’s tennis team), standing behind home plate, pressed record on her iPad. Littlewood did not feel nervous. He envisioned a single up the middle. And then the 2-1 pitch came in, a fastball up in the zone. He swung. "Drilled out to deep centerfield," Cheyne Reiter, the LumberKings' radio announcer said, beginning to lose his voice. "Back near the track, at the wall, THAT BALL IS GONE! ARE YOU KIDDING ME? A GRAND SLAM. MARCUS LITTLEWOOD. WE'RE TIED UP 17-17!"

COACH WATCHES SON: With the Cougars not qualifying for the West Coast Conference Tournament in Stockton, Calif., Coach Littlewood took advantage of that time and traveled to watch his son Marcus play five games in the Midwest. One of those games was against former Cougar Jacob Hannemann who had dinner with the coach.

COUGAR IN OMAHA: Former BYU coach Glen Tuckett is a long-time member of the American Baseball Coaches Association Board of Directors and as such often attends the College World Series. This year Tuckett is taking his oldest grandson along to attend the opening ceremonies on Friday and watch two of the CWS games on Saturday.

BYU BASEBALL CAMPS: June 23 marks the start of four baseball camps for BYU’s coaches.

SUMMER ASSIGNMENTS: One of the Cougars not playing summer baseball is relief pitcher Brandon Kinser who has a summer job doing sales for Direct TV in the Kansas City, Missouri area. Other Cougars are playing for the: