Ruffnecks News

2024 Season Opens!

First Posted March 18, 2024 | Updated March 18, 2024 at 8:18 am

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Winter Turns to Spring

The 13u and 14u Ruffnecks traveled to Diamond Nation in Flemington, New Jersey March 16-17 to open the 2024 season.  Both teams competed in the 14u Spring Invitational.  The 14u squad went 2-1 at the event, while the 13’s used an 0-3 tournament to gain valuable experience against older competition.  The trip has been a traditional starting point for the Ruffnecks season for many years.  It gives the players, coaches, and the families an opportunity to be together at the start of four months of Ruffnecks baseball.  For two days, players room together, eat together, and play baseball… just enough to get started after a long winter.  This year the weather was terrific with temperatures in the 60’s.

13’s Show Resilience While Learning

The 13u experience during Opening Weekend is one of learning by doing.  It takes some resilience to put oneself to the test against older competition in the first games as a team on the big diamond.  Mistakes are made, but with the correct approach, those mistakes are opportuniities to build from the game situations that present themselves.  Time spent together, as a team, is just as valuable as the on-field playing time.  The team enjoyed an outstanding team dinner in the hotel, followed by team meetings to review the day’s activity and talk baseball and have some laughs.  Baseball-wise, the 13’s played a typical first game in which they were somewhat overpowered by the experience of a 14u opponent.  In the second game, the 13u Ruffnecks found themselves in a 3-3 tie in the top of the 7th inning.  Despite enduring a 5 run scoring spree by the opponents to fall behind 8-3, the young ‘Necks rallied for 2 impressive runs in the bottom of the 7th before being retired with runners on 2nd and 3rd to end the game.  In the final game, the 13’s responded with rallies twice to hold off a more experienced opponent.

14u Ruffnecks Show Promise

Meanwhile, the 14u Ruffnecks showed some real promise.  The 14’s brought a year of experience and confidence to their three games. The team displayed solid firepower with the bats while playing sound defense in the first two games.  The pitching was kept on a short leash, but was generally effective.  The first game 5-1 win was a cleanly played game.  The second win was an 8-7 contest in which the Ruffnecks were in control despite the closeness of the score.  In the final game the team did not play its best defense against a worthy opponent.  Overall, the take away from the weekend was positive as the 14u Ruffnecks look at a long season ahead of them.  Within several weeks, the 14’s will face prep JV opponents in addition to weekend 14u competition.


Winter Workouts: Quality Time & Effort

First Posted January 28, 2024 | Updated February 7, 2024 at 1:34 am

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The “Off Season” is a time to retool and recharge.  Over the years, we have learned that “less can be more,” with proper intent and approach.  The quality of winter work is more important than compulsory practices that create more tiresome obligations and conflicts than opportunities for development.

Lots of Baseball Brainpower to Learn From

On Sunday, January 28th both the 16u and 17u Ruffnecks had their only “team” hitting sessions of the winter.  Position players hit for 90 minutes (each group).  The 15u hitters gathered on January 21st.  What defined these sessions was the information, personal instruction, and attentive feedback hitters received from an extraordinary gathering of baseball “lifers.”  The January 28th session was particularly good… and special.

NY Yankees Major League Pitching Coach, Matt Blake stopped into the January 28th sessions.  He addressed the group and mingled.  Blake began his coaching career with the Ruffnecks and at Lincoln-Sudbury HS under longtime Ruffnecks coach Kirk Fredericks (recently inducted into the Massachusetts Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame).  Blake openly credits being around the very scouts who attend our workouts with building his career.  Now in his fifth season in the dugout with Aaron Boone and the Yankees, Matt Blake coached seven years in the Ruffnecks program and was the last pitching coordinator until Ace Adams arrived in 2020. Innovative, yet traditional, Blake has earned the respect of pitchers at all levels.

Winter Workouts begin in late November with a smattering of optional developmental opportunities for Ruffnecks players.  Three Pro Scout Hitting Clinics from the Sunday after Thanksgiving to the Wednesday after Christmas gave hitters an opportunity to work in small groups with scouts from the NY Yankees, Oakland A’s, and Detroit Tigers.  A five week Catcher Clinic was conducted for Ruffnecks catchers by Rich Gedman.  As the adage goes, “You never know who may be watching,” the Scouting Director for the New York Yankees attended one of the sessions, while several high academic Division III college coaches also dropped in to watch.  Instruction in the Pro Scout Hitting Clinics is a team effort among core Ruffnecks coaches and the scouts.  Indeed, we let the scouts lead the way.  Why not?  Both Ron Vaughn of the Oakland A’s and Jim Bretz of the Tigers have extensive coaching credentials to go with respected scout careers.  Matt Hyde of the NY Yankees is one of the most highly regarded scouts in the Northeast.  The quality of information is remarkable.  Rich Gedman, Red Sox Hall of Fame catcher and current Triple A hitting coach also attended several sessions, adding instruction, and for those who listened, valuable psychological insights.

It is a credit to our players that the Pro Scouts voluntarilty return to the Team Sessions in January to instruct, follow up, and actually “follow” some of our hitters they consider “prospects.”  And while that does not necessarily mean hitters will be drafted out of high school, the scouts have been sincerely generous in their willingness to provide players with evaluations.

Roger Clemens and Rich Hill Join Pitchers Zoom

Roger Clemens joins Pitching Zoom January 1oth

Pitchers are not ignored.  A Zoom session on January 10th featured Major League pitcher Rich Hill and MLB Legend Roger Clemens.  These two men engaged in a discussion, Q&A, and presentation.  The topic was “Chasing Velocity – What Can I Do?”  Well… both men were on the same page in emphasizing the simplicity of core strength training, long toss, and the avoidance of gimmick clinics and tools.  It was an informative, enlightening session… a perfect complement to the January 28th Ruffnecks Pitchers Meeting at the Facility held with Ace Adams.  Rich Gedman joined that as well, adding the perspective of a catcher to the equation.  The “workout” was not even a physical throwing workout!  It was a gathering; a discussion; a review of what is truly important for pitcher preparation in advance of high school seasons and a long summer.

13u & 14u Ruffnecks Commence Their Winter Journey

Of course our young players are not ignored.  For the 13’s and the 14’s Winter Work is a more frequent occurance on the schedule, always confined to week Team Hitting sessions at The Facility.  We get our work done in the three hitting tunnls plus the classroom work where we spend quality time on specific topics, video work, and preparation.  Many of the 13’s and 14’s can be found hitting on their own during the week along with a number of older players.  These players are learning that getting better is not a function of scheduling, lessons, or clinics, but rather a commitment to work on your own and enjoying the investment of effort and time.  It is growing up as a ballplayer.

February Brings Indoor Workouts at Boston College

Winter Workouts transition to two high repetition sessions (Spring Training style) at Boston College.  These are early morning workouts that begin at 6:00am in “The Bubble” at Boston College.  These workouts include positional work for all players in the program.  Among the features is the opportunity for our youngest players to learn the drills and to take reps right along with the older players.  And again, pro scouts are in attendance both as instructors and evaluators.  Why?  Because they want to be here, working hands on with players who care to get better.

On Sunday, February 4th, 80 players gathered in the early dawn of winter and participated in a brisk two hour workout.  Positional stations were manned by professional scouts along with Ruffnecks coaches.  Infielders did bucket work and low impact throwing.  First basemen conducted a range of footwork and receiving drills.  Outfielders practice drop steps, conducted angle work, and took fly balls. Rich Gedman prepped the catchers with blocking and receiving drills.  And of course, pitchers listened to Ace and conducted flat ground throwing.


2023 Banquet A Spirited Evening

First Posted December 19, 2023 | Updated February 15, 2024 at 8:39 am

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14th Ruffnecks Banquet Beats the Storm!

Rain, wind, downed powerlines, flood warnings… Yes, obstacles aplenty could not get in the way of the 14th Annual Ruffnecks Banquet on Monday, December 18th.  Close to 200 Ruffnecks players, families, coaches, and friends filled the Needham VFW Banquet Hall to capacity. It was the largest Ruffnecks Banquet ever held.  Special Guest, Kevin Graber, of the Chicago Cubs flew from Arizona to speak and to be with the Ruffnecks on an evening that resonated with energy, laughs, and good fellowship.  KG spoke of how his 12 years as a Ruffnecks coach provided a platform for innovation and team building that contributed to his transition as instructor and manager in professional baseball.  KG managed the Double A Knoxville Smokies to their first Southern League championship in 45 years.  As he spoke, the message for Ruffnecks players and families was clearly grounded in the principles that make team sports, baseball, and the Ruffnecks specifically, so special.  There are the “non-negotiables” KG referred to, such as running hard, active listening, adherence to fundamental teammwork and commitment to skill work.  But his message focused as much on the importance of the bonds of friendship, trust, competition, and living with each other as the cornerstones of the Ruffnecks experience.  They are what endures.  He also spoke of learning from and working with many of the coaches past and present in the Ruffnecks program.  Most of all KG, looked out at the faces of Ruffnecks players, many of whom he had coached as recently at 2022, and credited them with commitment to being ballplayers.  “What the Ruffnecks program does is to give players a chance to decide ‘Do I love baseball?’ because the time and commitment to be good is intense.  There are non-negotiables, and the Ruffnecks remain true to that mission.”

Seniors Celebrated

Most importantly, the evening is a celebration of the Seniors 17u team from 2023.  This was a talented and spirited group that featured 14 players on the roster who played Ruffnecks Baseball since they were 13u or 14u. Ten began as 13 year olds.  Amazingly, all of them attended the Banquet!  No written words can express how the players gathered around the table, mixed, laughed, jostled, and picked up with each other just where they left off after their last game on August 6th in Cincinnati.  Everyone enjoyed the Senior tribute video and another video that captured the essence of the summer season, including some vintage footage of Ace Adams peppering a team meeting with his colorful  stories and liberal use of adjectives.  The 2023 Senior Class leaves a marvelous legacy.  Their energy, affection for each other, and loyalty to the Ruffnecks experience sets a standard that is an inspiration to those who follow and those who continue to coach, teach, and build the program.  Their success is not measured by where they are going to college, but rather by bonds built together as a highly competitive band of teammates.

Johnny Pesky Teammate Awards

The Johnny Pesky Teammate Awards remain a highlight of the evening.  In a program that shuns rankings, all tournament teams, and “elite” labels, the Teammate Awards are valued and met with anticipation each year.  These are the only awards the program issues.  The 2023 Teammate Award winner from the 13u team is Nathan Bills.  The 14u winner is Andrew Plante.  Braeden Homer won the 15u Teammate Award.  Owen Ellsworth was the 16u Pesky Teammate winner.

The Seniors recognized two five-year players for the 2023 Pesky Teammate Award. The honor is distinguished, in part, by the character of the entire 17u team.  Many of the players are worthy of recognition.  Nolan Colby, a five year infielder was recognized for his quiet leadership and steady influence.  Eddie Morrissey was recognized for his unslefish play, performance, and loyalty to his teammates and his team.  Both young men are role models for those who follow.

 


Time for Thanks – 2023 and Twenty Years

First Posted November 22, 2023 | Updated February 13, 2024 at 9:14 pm

As We Begin Our 3rd Decade…

We are grateful to the hundreds of players who have worn the Ruffnecks uniform since 2023.  Not much has changed, in fact nothing, about the uniform in 20 years.  But there has been a positive evolution for our program and culture in two decades.  We owe a debt of gratitude to many coaches, benefactors, parents, friends, teammates.  Indeed, what endures is gratitude for the memories and friendships.  It is, after all, about playing baseball with others who share a love for the game and the same passion for excellence.  To paraphrase  President Kennedy (out of context), we choose to do it, not because it is easy, but because it is hard. The reward  is the time we spend together.  Baseball is a hard game to be good at.  Teammates and friends help in times of frustration or setbacks; likewise, they are there to share the moments of glory in the summer sunshine.

The Porter Effect

Founded in 2003, the Ruffnecks program was transformed in 2007 with the support of Stuart and Susan Porter.  The Porters had two boys, Stuey and Jack, go through the program in the first decade of our history.  Their continued support over the past decade has had an immeasurable impact on the life and fortunes of the program.  Despite rumors, Ruffnecks fees and costs are among the lowest tuitions for comparable club programs anywhere in the country.  This is due to the generosity of the Porters.  Not only have the Porters supported the Ruffnecks, but Stu Porter partnered with the founder of the Ruffnecks to form New England Baseball Enterprises to build the New England Baseball Complex in 2013.  The company still owns the complex, though the rights to management of the fields has been leased.  Nevertheless, a grateful Ruffnecks community and, by extension, the entire New England youth baseball community, would do well to offer thanks to the Porters.

2023 Was a Wonderful 20th Anniversary Season

The Families and players on all five Ruffnecks teams enjoyed another memorable season in 2023.  The 13u Ruffnecks became enmeshed in the traditions and culture with ease.  Their use of the “The Facility” began in earnest last fall.  Currently the rising 14u team, many of these players can be found in The Facility regularly.  The 2023 14U team (now rising 15’s) experienced success early and often.  They won a spring tournament and competed well in several others.  The older three Ruffnecks teams worked all winter of 2023 in Pro Scout Hitting sessions, individual hitting, Winter Workouts at Boston College, and in pitcher preparation with Ace Adams.  Following high school and prep seasons, the 15’s, 16’s, and 17’s resumed “pre-season” workouts at the NEBC in early June.  Then they embarked on an exhaustive, yet exhilarating, two months of every-day baseball.  All three teams finished at the Tournament of Champions in Ohio, with the 16’s and 17’s qualifying for the top tier playoff brackets.  The 17u/Seniors made it to the last day and the championship game.

Thank You Coaches

We are grateful for many wonderful coaches through the years.  Coaches such as John Brickley, Kirk Fredericks, Kevin Graber, Ted Novio, Steve Zerdelian have spent more than 10 seasons of our 20 year history working with Ruffnecks players.  Their efforts are greatly appreciated.  One former pitching coach, Matt Blake (7 years with Ruffnecks) is now the pitching coach for the New York Yankees.  On the other end of the age spectrum, we have the privilege of learning from Ace Adams as our current pitching coach.  With over 30 years in Major League Baseball, Ace brings great value to the Ruffnecks experience.  In 2023 we were fortunate to have three Caseys in our dugouts.  Legendary John Casey joined his two sons, Kevin and Brendan on the coaching staff.  Again… Our thanks.

Thanksgiving for the Players and Families

Finally, nothing happens without the dedication of fine ballplayers and the support of caring families.  We are ever grateful for the families who populate our rosters each year.  Our new 13u class for 2024 is ready to join the family.  We thank our families for doing all they can to support the players, the program, and our coaches.  On to the Banquet Monday, December 18th. And then… to our 3rd decade in 2024!


Over 100 Participate in Ruffnecks Fall Baseball

First Posted October 7, 2023 | Updated October 7, 2023 at 8:44 am

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The Fall in New England presents some of the finest weather of the year… just not on the weekends during September of 2023!  It has been a rainy fall, but the Ruffnecks program has managed to soldier through it with few cancellations.  At the core of our Fall Baseball philosophy is the belief that athletes should play other fall sports.  Accordingly, we confine activity to weekends-only with options for returning players and others to play, mostly on Sundays.  We also conduct our annual 13U Fall Baseball Development program.

13U Fall Program Provides Instruction, Development

The 13u Fall Baseball Program is our signature offering to rising 13u players making the transition to the “Big Diamond.”  We do not hold tryouts; we simply begin the process of teaching the game layer-by-layer, in a six week developmental program that begins in early September and runs through the end of October.  It has been said that “Talent is elastic, and particularly so in team sports.”  Since baseball skills and talent are not fixed commodities, players of varying levels of ability, size, and knowledge of the game, find themselves learning and challenged during the 13u Fall Baseball Program.  Drill work is quickly paced.  Specific positional skills are worked in a sytematic process.  Team concepts are layered weekly to put the pieces of skill development together with a greater understanding of the game on a field that has significantly more real estate to cover than what most 12 year olds experienced.  Relays, communication, catching and throwing, running, leads, fly balls, ground balls… nothing is too ordinary to cover.

Despite the increase in choices, pressure to commit to other teams, and fear of missing out, 35 eager 13 year olds enjoy the weekly program on Sundays.  Get better each week… That is the primary objective.

HS Wood Bat & College Prep Programs

For players with at least one year experience on the full sized diamond, we offer the High School Wood Bat program.  The program is focused on weekly Red vs. Blue games accompanied by modest, instructive, pre-game and in-game coaching.  Usually, a pre-game concept is presented for review, such as relays, or an infield/outfield.  Red vs. Blue games are conducted to manage pitching opportunities responsibly.  We believe one or two innings per week is all a pitcher should throw during the fall.  The purpose is to maintain and develop “feel” for pitches and to work deliberately.

The College Prep Program is for slightly more advanced players, most of whom either already play varsity high school baseball or are on the cusp of competing for varsity.  The College Prep Red vs. Blue games also have instructive focus.  There are also some opportunities to play in the NEBC College Prep Fall Baseball league games.  We use the HS Wood Bat and College Prep programs to shuffle rosters on a weekly basis, mixing returning players with candidates and others who wish to sample the Ruffnecks experience.

 


Updated April 22, 2024 at 7:18 am

Ruffnecks Announcements
Week of April 22-28

Monday, April 22
Open Hitting
2:00 to 6:00pm

Tuesday, April 23
Open Hitting
2:00 to 6:00pm

Wednesday, April 24
Open Hitting
2:00 to 6:00pm

Thursday, April 25
13u/14u Practice
5:30pm at Roxbury Latin

Friday, April 26
Open Hitting
2:00 to 6:00pm

Saturday, April 27
13U Team Hitting
9:00am at Facility
14U at Cardigan Varsity
12:30pm 

Sunday, April 28
13U vs. US9
10:00am at RL
14U at US9
9:00am at Thayer Academy 

Updated April 18, 2024 at 7:31 am

Spring ActivityWeekend of April 19-21
13u/14u Tournaments: See Team Pages

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Tuesday
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Wednesday
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Thursday
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Friday
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Saturday
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VIEW EXTENDED FORECAST
Updated April 1, 2024 at 7:39 am

2024 Rosters & Team Pages
All Team Schedules Now Posted

Ruffnecks Rosters & Schedules

13U Ruffnecks

14U Ruffnecks

15U Ruffnecks

16U Ruffnecks

17U Ruffnecks

Updated February 2, 2024 at 7:15 am

Ruffnecks Apparel for Spring/Summer
(Now Open!)

Link Above to Tri-Valley Sports!
Order Now for Spring & Summer Delivery
Sweatshirts & Other Items available at Facility
Ruffnecks Footwear Available
(Click Image Below)

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