The Chaparral baseball program held a huge fundraiser last month that could lead Assistant Varsity Coach Kevin Newby to the front steps of the Guinness Book of World Records offices.
After the program had been looking for ideas for fundraisers and didn’t want to go through the everyday conventional methods like car washes and pancake breakfasts, the idea was brought up about doing a Hit-A-Thon, which is something that Kevin Newby, aka ‘The Swing Dr.’, has plenty of experience with.
Newby, a newcomer to the Chaparral program, is a former minor league player and has traveled the college ranks coaching throughout the greater San Diego area for over 25 years.
“I did something like this at Grossmont and it was just an okay event. The way it was managed here in the sweet valley of wines, well, let’s just say, I may never call San Diego home again. The people here are so passionate about their kids and sports, it’s enough to make anyone shell out a couple bucks no matter what the cause is,” exclaimed Newby.
“Of course I’m a little biased,” he added. “We had great support and a great mind running the show in Parent Support Group member Craig John’s, who had an entire team under him ensuring this was going to be as successful as it was. It really brought the program together.”
Newby arrived at the fields by 5 a.m. to start prepping for the day and by 5:30 a.m. was ready to start throwing pitches. Senior varsity player Buddy Sokach was the first to step up to the plate, but not before he read Psalms 91 out loud to bless Chaparral High School on what everyone knew was going to be a long day.
The hitting began at the cages, located just behind the home dugout, with the lights on during the early morning hours. Each hitter would be dealt 25 baseballs per bucket and from there the fun transitioned to the varsity field at 10 a.m. when the first group of youth hitters showed up from the Menace baseball program representing the 12U team.
The junior varsity fields were transformed into a carnival-like atmosphere with jumpers and slides, face painters, snow cones and there was even a dunk tank by the field house where Principal Gil Compton stopped by to see who had the gull to try to dunk him. Of course, the Chaparral coaches all took turns getting wet, many of whom were dunked by their own players.
The varsity outfield had markers all over it and signs from the sponsors were spread out as well. Sponsors like Abeja Services, Faustos Bail Bonds, Jolly Jumps, Bright Now Dental, Manyk Energy, Dick’s sporting Goods, Pipeline, Great Clips and more were all giving free items away when their signs were hit by any of the players and participants.
“The environment was very fun and the kids loved trying to out hit each other, we could see that it built some camaraderie and of course a little competition never hurts either,” said Jason Ehmke, who has a son on the Menace team.
Hundreds of supporters and sponsors stopped by to watch and hit throughout the day. Kenny Barton, former professional baseball player and good friend to the Swing Dr. who played in the minor leagues with Newby then went on to play pro ball with the Giants and Indians, also stopped by to support.
“Newby is a beast,” said Barton. “When he played he came to destroy you, so I knew the only way he would be done throwing is if he ran out of hitters. Sure enough when the younger boys told me he would need ice, I put them at ease telling them the only way Newby would need ice was if his Gatorade was getting warm. They laughed, but I never saw him ice his arm when we were growing up, and it’s been 40 years since I first met him. How was his arm after he was done? I have no idea, but I know he threw for four hours the next morning in San Diego!”
Local MLB scout Dan Dixon backed up Barton, stating, “These kids have no idea how hard Kevin played, when he was on the field, he never gets tired.”
A second travel team, the So Cal Bombers, brought their bats out before the varsity players hit as well as some youth players from Temecula Pony and the local Little League and 11 hours and 39 minutes into the fundraiser, the nearly 60-year-old Chaparral varsity coach, who had also been hit in the ribs the day before by a come backer off of a 6’9, 290 pound prospect named Tim Leary during a batting lesson, had no hitters to throw to and with darkness setting in had thrown his 4,660th and final pitch to the same hitter that started off the day, Buddy Sokach.
The overall long ball winner on the day was Juwan Maxwell from the varsity squad as he smashed 11 home runs and right behind him was Marc Sauceda who ripped eight home runs.
There was a tie at the top of junior varsity with an incredible six launched home runs each from Cameron Haskel and Kyler Downs.
For the freshman team, no players hit any long balls over the fence but Will Mentzer and Chase Parker had 25 total bases each. (Will had 9 doubles, 7 singles and Chase had 6 doubles and 13 singles.)
“All I did was throw and get a few sponsors,” said Newby. “My efforts were nothing next to the countless hours of planning and work done by everyone involved.”
Craig Johns wrapped up the day with a smile by saying, “Thanks and congratulations to Coach Newby for attaining a personal best and new high mark for pitches thrown in a day and I have to send a huge thanks out to Steve Eicher from Uniquemobilesounds.com, he was our public announcer all day, donated his time and was one of the first to arrive and one of the last to leave. We learned a lot about running an event like this and will make this annual event even better next year and for years to come.”