No, it is not the TinCaps or the Little League. It is Wildcat Baseball Summer Training Camp for Fort Wayne Youth.
Over 50 years ago, Dale McMillen had a vision and offered the Fort Wayne youth the opportunity to learn the basic skills of baseball.
These skills included proper throwing, catching and pitching, as well as, batting, running bases and sliding. Thanks to McMillen, this summer activity has continued with the support of the McMillen family over 50 years.
Wildcat Baseball is played in several locations around the city each summer. It attracts youth from age 6 through teens. There are four divisions of Wildcat Baseball: Tigers, Kats, Kittens and Kitty.
The coaches at each location have grown up with the sport and instruct the youth on the same basic skills that McMillen did years ago.
Wildcat Baseball starts at 8 a.m. and ends in the mid-afternoon five days a week. There are team practices and games for the youth to sharpen their skills learning the basics from the coaching staff. The staff is patient; if they see a miscue on a play, they will call “time out” and tell the youth the proper way to make the play.
I have three second-generation Wildcatters playing at St. Joe diamonds this year, each playing in a separate division, so I spend a lot of time at the ballpark, just as other parents and grandparents do. It is enjoyable to see the progress that each youth makes as the season goes on.
Don’t use Wildcat as a babysitting summer process. Support your youth and stay at the ballpark and cheer them on. However, no matter how emotional you may get wrapped up in the game; remember the coaching staff at each location are the baseball instructors.
Thank you to all the coaching staff, for devoting their summer to Wildcat Baseball Training Camp for Youth. Thank you to the McMillen Family for supporting this summer activity for Fort Wayne youth for more than 50 years.
John D. Hannigan