The fundamentals of baseball

Derik Vanderford|The Union Daily Times Participants in the Union County Baseball Camp learned fundamentals of the game over three days this week.

Derik Vanderford|The Union Daily Times DJ Gregory takes a swing at the ball.

Derik Vanderford|The Union Daily Times Garrett Wilson covers third base for his team.

Courtesy photo Former Major League Baseball player Jeff Schaefer assisted with coaching at the camp on Tuesday.

Derik Vanderford|The Union Daily Times Participants enjoyed playing a game at the end of Wednesday’s camp.

UNION COUNTY — A local baseball camp for children taught fundamentals and included a visit from a former Major League Baseball player.

A three-day baseball camp for children ages 5-13 was held at Union County High School this week. The camp was led by Union County High School Baseball Coach Kirk Rebuck, who said there were a lot more participants for the camp than last year.

“They all really worked hard,” Rebuck said. “I’m proud of them.”

Rebuck said the goals of the camp were strictly fundamental, teaching the children skills such as properly fielding a ground ball or having an approach at the plate and hand path with their swing. He said participants worked on pitching, defense, infield, and the overall favorite, hitting.

“That was really what we wanted to accomplish — proper fundamentals — and between myself and Coach (Paul) Wilkes and Coach (Ryan) Young helping out, I think we achieved that goal over the past three days,” Rebuck said Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the camp welcomed a special guest coach, former Major League Baseball player Jeff Schaefer. Schaefer played with the Chicago White Sox in 1989, the Seattle Mariners from 1990-1992, and the Oakland Athletics in 1994. He played alongside famous teammates such as Carlton Fisk, Randy Johnson, Ken Griffey Jr., and Mark McGuire; and he played for World Series-winning managers Joe Madden, Tony LaRussa and Charlie Manuel. In 2007, Schaefer founded the Carolinas Baseball Center in Charlotte, and since then his focus has been on developing and creating opportunity for high school players with the desire to play at the next level. Over 200 players influenced by Schaefer have moved on to play at the collegiate and professional levels.

“Tuesday was special because a lot of these kids have never met a former MLB player before,” Rebuck said, explaining that Schaefer watched the children and worked with them. “He’s a great guy, an awesome guy. He’s always willing to help kids out, and that’s the important thing — helping these kids out.”

Rebuck also said Schaefer works with him through Schaefer’s travel ball organization.

“(Schaefer) liked a couple of these kids enough to extend some invitations for them to come up to Charlotte to work out with him at his academy, and that’s a great opportunity for these younger kids to go out and get some exposure playing against good competition,” Rebuck said. “So I’m really grateful to him for coming down and helping out with my camp that day.”