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Bull City Summer

Baseball camp always bigger at DBAP

Posted August 12, 2013

— An army of kids stream into the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, their eyes wide. This is it, the big time, the world’s best minor league field, and they’re about to take it like the Visigoths took Rome.

They’ve made it to the show.

Okay, so maybe it’s just one of the baseball camps the Durham Bulls sponsor every summer, but it feels bigger than that. Not only are these kids going to play on a professional field, they’re going to be coached by professional players. Could be Jason Bourgeois, might be Vince Belnome or Kirby Yates. The line-up changes from day to day, but it’s guaranteed that each day of camp is going to put them in direct contact with guys who play ball for a living.

Summer camp at DBAP Slideshow: Summer camp at DBAP

Which, coincidentally, is what these kids are pretty sure they’ll be doing one day, too.

The kids range from ages seven through fourteen. Most of them are boys, but there’s a sprinkling of girls as well. Hats pledge allegiance to the Braves, the Mets, the Phillies, the Rays, and most of all, to the Durham Bulls. At least four campers are dressed in full North Wake Little League regalia, and the South Granville and Wilkes County All-Stars are also represented. On day one of camp, some kids show up without caps or sports bags, but by day two, everybody’s got the gear down.

When they first arrive, the unflappable Mary Beth Warrford, the Bulls’ special events coordinator, directs the campers to the second-tier bleachers behind home plate and lays down the law: Stay outside of the infield at all times. No exceptions. Bags have to be on the dirt, not the grass. She calls out age groups and sends each one to a station — pitching, fielding, conditioning or batting.

The eleven-year-olds head off to right field do conditioning with Dan Rousseau, the Bulls’ strength and conditioning coach. Over in center field, Jason Bourgeois instructs nine- and ten-year-olds in the basics of fielding as he lobs balls at them. You’ve got to catch the ball before you can do anything with it, he tells them. You’ve gotta be ready for the ball. You’ve got to want the ball.

Pitchers Adam Liberatore and Kirby Yates are towering presences in left field. Next to them, the seven- and nine-year olds are barely visible, but they’re clearly committed to throwing strikes — or at least to getting the ball in the general vicinity of the catcher’s mitt. The older kids, the twelve-through-fourteens, are down in the batting cages with Vince Belnome and Craig Albernaz, hitting balls off tees and getting feedback from a caliber of athlete most of them have only seen on TV screens or from right field seats.

The afternoons are an ecstatic riot of scrimmages. You can stay with your age group or you can migrate over to the part of the field where your little brother is playing, and so things are a little more chaotic. Some of the seven- and eight-year olds, armed with plastic cups of water and handfuls of ice, abandon baseball entirely in favor of getting each other soaking wet.

Each day of the three-day camp ends with the coaches sitting behind a long table, autographing shirts, balls, gloves, hats and arms. These guys get paid to be here, but you can tell they’re having fun. After all, it hasn’t been that long since they were the tongue-tied kids getting baseball cards signed. Handing back the caps and the shirts, they look across the table at kids who are dreaming the same dreams they used to dream. They’re looking at the future of baseball. “Good luck,” they tell the kids, and the kids nod back, expressions serious. “You, too,” they say, and then run off, yelling to their moms and little brothers and sisters, waving their prizes in the air.

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Final
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Final
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Final
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Final
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Final
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TOR 110
Final
MIA 103
WAS 105
Final
MEM 97
CHI 103
2nd OT
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POR 104
 
4th
DEN 71
LAC 74
 
1st
LAL 17
OKC 7
 
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YOUNG 92
WILB 71
 
Final
TULA 56
JST 49
 
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SIENA 66
 
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CASEWEST 65
 
Final
LIB 94
CPNC 65
 
Final
SCAR 68
CLEM 45
Final
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CONC 60
 
Final
MIAMI 44
EKENT 72
Final
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HIWASSEE 71
 
Final
ODU 60
MDES 43
 
Final
BUF 88
NIAG 62
 
Final
KSU 71
NCAT 57
 
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UNF 83
 
Final
NORST 81
NARZ 62
 
Final
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NILL 55
 
Final
MORE 60
NKENTUCKY 83
 
Final
UCSB 69
SDCHR 46
 
Final
STJ 53
GAELS 47
Final
ALA 69
STILL 49
 
Final
HAMP 66
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TENN 61
TENT 58
Final
WMARY 86
WSHMD 46
 
Final
MERC 67
COOK 46
 
Final
FLGC 83
FUR 78
 
Final
CALST 49
SDKST 53
 
Final
MTST 68
CHAT 58
Final
NDAK 78
DICKINSON 48
 
Final
LAMON 76
LSUALEX 71
 
Final
PRIN 77
LIP 55
 
Final
LAM 80
MLGN 53
 
Final
MINN 92
SEAT 57
 
Final
LOYC 73
SUTAH 57
 
Final
SELA 81
WINT 71
 
Final
SILL 52
NO 56
 
Final
MARQ 83
ALAAM 49
 
2nd
TTU 70
ARKPB 49
 
2nd
DEN 77
COLST 84
 
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CREI 75
TXPA 60
 
Half
CAL 37
EWASH 26
 
Half
UTST 30
IDST 24
 
11:00pm Tonight
UTEP
ARZ
11:59pm Tonight
CHAM
HAW
 
Final
NJD 3
TAM 2
Final
OTT 6
ANA 2
Final
DET 1
NYI 2
Final
WIN 2
BOS 1
2nd Intermission
CAL 1
DAL 2