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Keeping youth baseball flame lit
FB, Inc. teammates hoping to stick together in new league

Within the heartbeat of Farragut youth baseball are teenagers enthusiastic for the diamond yet unlikely to ever help win gold medals — or vie for major college scholarships.

Though Reed Schneider, Gus Jansen and twin brothers Aaron and Tyler Cage are gifted musicians, and contribute in other sports, they have several years worth of friendship bonding tied together within Farragut Baseball, Inc. as teammates.

“It's pretty cool playing with Gus since we were 5, nine years or whatever,” said Reed, 14, whose diamond ties in recent years would have died after being part of the Sandy Koufax Recreation League (13-14 year-olds) champion Blue Jays this summer.

However, a handful of FB, Inc. activists are attempting to revive a 15-to-18 recreation league beginning at the end of August, the first such FB, Inc. league since the early 2000s.

Gus, 14, a second baseman, said it would “be kinda crappy” to break up his Blue Jays group if 15-18 didn't happen “because they're all my friends. It was fun playing all these years, so why would I want to quit now?”

Jeff Jansen — 15-18 league commissioner, Sandy Koufax League commissioner, FB, Inc. maintenance head and coach — joins Jonathan Watkins (FB, Inc. president) and Jeff Gary (former president) to spearhead development of the league.

“A lot of these kids have played together since 8, or played against each other,” Jansen said. “There's 30 or 40 of them that are out there who are pretty regular that have come through [the system].”

Andrew Schneider, a 15-18 coach and coach of the 13-14 Blue Jays, said “there's a lot of kids that like to play baseball that maybe don't have the size to play for Farragut High School.”

Jansen said the new league is geared for “the rec-style player who's working the part-time job at Kroger and who's doing studies and is in the drama club, but who still wants to go out and play baseball.

“But doesn't have time to commit to four practices a week and three games, the rigorous high school schedule,” he added.

Reed, Gus and the Cage twins have been together since age 9.

Schneider said, “That's exactly what the point of this league is. These kids get to do other things. Gus is all-county cello. Reed plays guitar. The [twins] both play piano. I have other kids on my team that are violin players that have made the all-county orchestra.”

Reed, a pitcher who also plays third base, said Gus “is pretty crazy, but he's been a good friend, a good teammate all these years.”

Aaron, a first baseman, said “it's great” to play with twin brother Tyler, a shortstop, because “we turn a lot of double plays together.”

Tyler said he's been playing “since I was young, so it's fun that we'll keep our team together and keep playing with the same coaches and players.”

Planning for a 10-game fall season and 12-game spring league — with games either once or twice weekly — fall regular season action is set to begin “at the end of August or the first of September,” Jansen said.

All games are set to be played at the “60-90 Field” alongside Watt Road at Mayor Bob Leonard Park With a goal of 44 total players for four teams (11 per team), “We'd like to have at least three teams,” Jansen said.

“You'll have a scheduled practice a week and one, maybe two scheduled games a week.”

However, because of lower than expected sign-ups (21 as of Monday, Aug. 9), Jansen said registration deadline is extended through Saturday, Aug. 21. (See registration details in Sports Briefs, page 4C).

Jansen said a $100 per player fall registration fee will “provide uniforms” and allow the hiring of sanctioned umpires.

A handful of parents of Sandy Koufax-aged players approached Jansen last summer and asked, “‘Hey, what happens after this?’ ... It kinda dawned on them when they started realizing, ‘This is little Johnny's last season. ... Where does my son go to play baseball?’” he said.


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