World Series champions coach Skullcandy teams

Ryan Kucherak of the 12U Skullcandy Crushers leads off from third base as coach Kevin Johnson watches the opposing pitcher.
Tanzi Propst/Park Record

Whether or not the Skullcandy Crushers 9U and 12U baseball teams win this week’s Triple Crown World Series tournaments isn’t important.

What is important is that the players on each team stick with the sport and play at next year’s 10U and 13U tournaments.

That’s the message a pair of former professional athletes are trying to pass down to the Crushers this week.

David Dellucci, an outfielder for the 2001 World Series champion Arizona Diamondbacks, and Wayne Rosenthal, who won a World Series as the pitching coach of the 2003 Florida Marlins, are in Park City to help coach the Skullcandy squads.

Both former athletes said the teams’ records aren’t what matters at this age.

“I’m a big advocate of fun first,” Dellucci said. “Winning is important, but having fun and enjoying yourself so that you want to play more and more is more important.”

Rosenthal, who is helping out while in town for a family vacation, agreed with Dellucci.

“I just want to see kids go out there and have fun,” he said. “If they take away one or two things to get better from this game, then it’s a big day. If they go out there and have fun with smiles on their faces, then it’s a big tournament.”

Dellucci lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and has started a Skullcandy baseball program there. He said he hopes to use his major league experience to teach kids what it takes to be successful in baseball and in life.

“If you act cocky and act stuck up, they think that’s how they have to be in order to be in the major leagues,” he said. “Our goal, as stewards of the game, is to pass along that you have to be a good guy and you’ve got to play hard. You’ve got to treat your teammates and opposition with class and respect. I hope that’s what they take away from us more than anything.”

Rosenthal, who grew up in New York City, said he would have loved to have a former big leaguer help coach his youth teams.

“To me, I’m not special,” he said. “I just love playing the game and coaching the game and I don’t want to get out of the game. But if I was a kid and someone was coaching my team who had a World Series ring, I’d look up to them. I hear baseball players and basketball players say they’re not role models, but if you’re a sports figure, you’re a role model to somebody.”

Though both Dellucci and Rosenthal have reached the highest levels of baseball, they said some of their fondest memories are from playing youth games. Dellucci said that’s why keeping the game fun this week is so important for the Crusher players.

“You don’t know if the smallest kid on the 9U team is going to grow up to be 6-foot-6 throwing 100 mph,” he said. “But, if he doesn’t love baseball, and he gets out because of bad coaching or too much pressure, we’ll never find out what he can do. When it’s not fun anymore, these young guys are going to find something else to do.

“You hear all these former professional guys say the exact same thing because we’ve been through it and we know that you’re going to play your best when you’re having fun and you’re going to work harder in your off-time when it’s fun for you.”

Rosenthal said he still keeps in contact with teammates he had in the minor leagues and has friends from every stop of his baseball career. That, he said, is what makes sports so important for youth athletes.

“When you’re younger, just being with your friends and having fun is the most important thing,” he said. “[Baseball] builds friendships that last forever.”

The 12U Skullcandy Crushers finish pool play on Wednesday with games against the Utah Horns at 8 a.m. and against the Niwot Cougars at noon at the Park City Sports Complex. The 12U Park City Avalanche also play two pool games on Wednesday — against Ruckus Baseball at 8:30 a.m. and against Strike Zone Baseball at 12:30 p.m. at the Oakley Sports Complex. The 9U Skullcandy Crushers play the Sin City Shockers at noon and the Utah Rebels at 2 p.m. on Wednesday at the Park City High School Little League field.

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