Payson To Host Field Of Dreams


Jake Yeck, an 18-year-old senior at Goodyear Millennium High School, was among the first group of aspiring baseball players to attend an Arizona Diamondbacks Training Center in Payson.

"It was fun and I learned a lot of baseball," he said.


Young ball players at the 2007 Arizona Diamondbacks Training Center held at Rumsey Park drill under the watchful eye of a camp coach.

The inaugural training center Yeck participated in was held eight years ago on Longhorn baseball diamond.

On the teaching staff was former PHS baseball coach Teddy Pettet who was fresh from leading the Horns to the 1999 3A state championship.

Also tutoring the about 60 boys who enrolled up was former Arizona State University star and major leaguer Rickey Nelson.

Since the training center's first appearance in the Rim Country, the baseball camps have returned each year
with a new set of coaches and instructors. Now, the camps have expanded to include softball and are no longer held on the PHS field but rather at Rumsey Park.

The next Payson-hosted Diamondbacks Training Center will be held July 7 to 11 again at Rumsey.

Shannon Godfrey, Diamondbacks assistant for Baseball Outreach and Development, said both baseball and softball will again be offered.

However, in the past a softball camp had to be cancelled when not enough participants signed up.

The baseball camps usually fill to capacity.

About the only setback the camps have suffered in past years is that they are held about the same time as Little League postseason area, district and state tournaments.

Which means, some of Payson's finest baseball players -- usually the Little League all-star selections -- cannot participate.

Diamondback training center coaches sent to Payson in the past say they are aware of the problem but because the camps are offered in about 40 towns and cities around Arizona in a short three-month period, the conflict would be tough to resolve.

The camps, which are held through the week from 8 to 11 a.m., feature instruction in all aspects of baseball and fast pitch softball, including hitting, fielding, baserunning, pitching, strategy and sportsmanship.

Coaches usually throw in spirit contests and games to keep the camp sessions fun and interesting.

Godfrey said the purpose of training centers are to instill an enhanced self-image, increased skills, improved knowledge of the game and greater community pride in the participants.

Godfrey estimates that since the inception of the program, "over 17,000 kids have ‘learned to play the D-backs way'."

The training centers are open to all players six to 18 years of age.

The fee of $150 includes 15 hours of instruction, a Diamond-backs cap, and T-shirt, instructional DVD and the opportunity to attend select Diamondback home games.

All profits benefit Diamond-backs Youth Charities.

"We are excited for camp and we will be in Payson," Godfrey said.

For more information call 1-800-821-7152 or go to:

Commenting has been disabled for this item.