A major league of their own

Christine June
U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern

John Noce played professional baseball. He coached American and Italian teams for the Olympics, and European and conference championships. He was inducted into the American Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1993.

***image1***And, he showed close to 300 children how to play baseball Monday and Tuesday during the Major League Baseball Envoy clinic at the U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern’s Twin Fields on Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.

“I’m here to teach them to properly throw, catch and hit the ball so they stay away from bad habits,” said Noce, who has worked as a MLB Envoy coach in Austria, Romania and Holland. “It’s very hard to correct bad habits in throwing, catching and hitting. It’s far better to know the proper way to begin with, and that’s why I’m here.”

Noce taught children, ages 6 to 18, baseball’s fundamentals during the two, seven-hour free clinics. He also discussed education, scholarships, sportsmanship, dedication, attitude and what top college programs are seeking in recruits.

The Garrison’s Youth Sports Director Anthony Broccoli said the MLB Envoy coaches could be called ambassadors for baseball because they travel throughout the world promoting it as an international sport. In this endeavor, they teach baseball clinics to military kids through youth and teen centers.

***image2***For Sandy Merchat, the Landstuhl Middle School physical education teacher, this clinic was a great opportunity.

“We don’t have fields over at the school, and there are a lot of kids who don’t – for whatever reason – play baseball or softball. This is an opportunity for them to get out here and see what they can do,” said Merchat, who brought her students to the clinic on Monday.

Noce and several of the garrison’s youth baseball and softball coaches taught the participants through various throwing, catching and hitting exercises.
Installation Management Command-Europe provides these envoy baseball clinics to posts throughout Europe in partnership with Boys and Girls Clubs of America and Major League Baseball.

This was the fourth year the garrison’s Child and Youth Services hosted the free clinics for youths in the KMC, and it was the second out of six clinics to be held at Army installations throughout Europe.

The Major League Baseball Envoy Coach program has been MLB’s flagship international project since 1993. Since the program’s inception, MLB has sent hundreds of professional coaches to more than 75 different countries to work on baseball development projects.