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Clinic gives area kids get a taste of the majors

Former Zephyrhills ace Dave Eiland headlines a group of ex-major leaguers for a weekend instructional baseball camp.

The Jack Hubbard Baseball Clinic is Saturday and Sunday, 9:30 a.m to 1:30 p.m. each day, at Ridgewood. Cost for players, ages 12-16, is $140 for both days or $70 for one.

"Hubby (the New York Yankees' minor league roving instructor) and I just started talking about a camp and once the season was over we put it together," said Eiland, a 1984 Zephyrhills graduate. "We plan on doing more of these. This isn't just a one-time thing."

Eiland, 40, also played at South Florida before 15 professional seasons, including 10 in the majors.

He retired in 2002 and is the pitching coach for the Yankees' AAA affiliate that has moved from Columbus, Ohio, to Scranton, Pa.

Joining Eiland and Hubbard for the sessions, which emphasize fundamentals, will be retired major-leaguers Rob Ducey (outfielder), Darnell Coles (infielder) and Randy Knorr (catcher).

"We have a guy in every area; hitting, pitching, catching, outfield, infield," Hubbard said. "We've got over 50 years of major or minor-league experience."

All coach in the minors and all reside in the offseason in Pasco and Pinellas counties, which Eiland said factored into the camp's location. Another key to the decision was Ridgewood coach Larry Beets, who coached against Eiland at the high school level and was eager to host the two-day clinic.

"They just wanted to try something in Pasco and I said I'll get the field ready," Beets said. "Any time baseball can be going on somebody can benefit."

Beets, Ridgewood's coach since the school's inception in 1984, also looks forward to seeing Eiland on the field again.

"I enjoyed seeing him pitch," Beets said of Eiland, who also played infield as well as football and basketball in high school. "He was an athlete."

The goal for the clinic is "to try to make (young ballplayers) as good as they can be," Hubbard said. "To have them say, "Oh, wow. I spent two days and I learned something.' ''

For more information, call (727) 463-0406.

Contact Steve Lee at lee@sptimes.com or (352) 521-6517.

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