Dave Bergman ushered yet another this week and we caught up with the 1984 World Champion and former Detroit Tigers first baseman for a few quick thoughts on his Redbirds and his Tigers.
We know the Redbirds are entering into their 16th season soon. How are the ball club and the high school teams working together these days?
"My relationship with Frank Sumbera ( varsity baseball coach) goes back a long way," said Bergman. "When I shared with him about what I was thinking of doing with this organization he was very encouraging. Obviously it helps his program to have these kids playing in the summertime and basically whatever I need, he's there to help. We have access to both North's and South's fields now, which is great. Both Frank and ( coach) Danny Griesbaum have been huge supporters of the organization and we are working together as a team. I'll ask them the players they need to have playing in the summer and then we'll try to get them into the program. Some years we have more kids from South, other years we'll have more from North. We try to keep that good blend from the two schools and try to keep it a community baseball team."
The Redbirds organization stresses the importance of developing strong young men in life first and baseball second. With respect to parents, Bergman continued:
"Trying to deal with the parents is probably the most difficult part of our job," said Bergman. "The kids themselves are easy to work with, as are the coaches. Parents have high expectations of their kids and all we're trying to teach are life-skill lessons and stress the true definition of a student-athlete. I really don't care about trophies. I really don't care about winning. What I do care about is just trying to take these young boys to young men. When our kids leave our program, I know they are prepared for college because they have the good academic program and they understand my definition of a true student-athlete. That is, 100 percent on and off the field. I never talk about grades and I never talk about batting averages. If you give 100 percent in both, you are a student-athlete in my mind. That's what it's all about."
What are your thoughts on the Tigers' 2011 season?
"They are going to be competitive," said Bergman. "The only thing I'm waiting to see right now is if they are going to win the close games, if they can manufacture one or two runs. The other night in Boston they lost 1-0 and they need to win those ballgames if they want to be a championship ball club. Their pitching is really starting to come on and they can swing the bat but their team speed is a little limited. I think they'll be competitive only because the division isn't that strong this year. Obviously, I am pulling for them."
The Grosse Pointe Redbirds Baseball Organization celebrates its 16th year of enhancing and developing the lives of young men, while teaching the lessons of life that come from playing baseball. The organization provides exposure to top players from the Grosse Pointes and surrounding areas who want to develop their baseball skills by competing at the highest level. GPBO stresses academic excellence, high moral standards, discipline, respect, concern for others and a winning attitude in the development of their Redbird ballplayers.
For more on the baseball organization, visit www.redbirdsbaseball.com.