Even in the midst of the off-season and with the holidays in full swing, it is still a great time to be baseball active. The offseason provides time to set goals and work on improving skills before spring ball. The key to making the most of the offseason is finding fun ways to be active, work out and practice baseball skills.
Touch Base is a newsletter for all the players and families in Team UP.
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Building Baseball Teams
Baseball is in Mike Rizzo's blood. He is a third-generation scout. His father, Phil, was a former minor league baseball player who then spent 50 years scouting in professional baseball. His grandfather Vito, was a semi-pro player before turning to the job of talent evaluation.
Rizzo’s baseball career started as minor-league baseball player from 1982-1984. He was drafted by the Angels in the 22nd round as the 554th overall pick. His playing days ended in 1984, and he then worked as an assistant coach at the University of Illinois, where he graduated in 1988 with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication.
Soon after, he began his Major League Baseball front office career Larry Himes, the General Manager of the Chicago White Sox and the scout that drafted Rizzo as a player, hired him as a scout for the Upper Midwest region. He worked as a scout for the Chicago White Sox, the Boston Red Sox, and the Arizona Diamondbacks, rising to Scouting Director and then Vice President of Scouting Operations.
After not getting the General Manager job he sought in Arizona, he joined the Washington Nationals as an assistant general manager in 2006. Rizzo was named General Manager in 2009 and President of Baseball Operations and General Manager in 2013.
As the President of Baseball Operations and General Manager of the Washington Nationals, Rizzo’s job is to build winning baseball teams, draft skilled players and develop a strong and successful minor league system.
Under his leadership, the Nationals have grown from a new franchise learning to win to an organization with the know-how to do so.
- From 2012 to 2019 the Nationals went 722-566 (.561), the fourth-best record during that time, behind only the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees, and St. Louis Cardinals.
- Rizzo’s teams have won four National League East titles (2012, 2014, 2016, 2017) and one Wild Card berth (2019).
- On June 24, 2021, Rizzo recorded his 1000th win as a General Manager (2009-present).
- He has been honored with several awards during his tenure, including the Executive of the Year by Baseball America in 2019.
After 14 seasons as the head of Washington's baseball operations, Rizzo has built many successful teams. The 2023 season will be his 39th in professional baseball and he is working again to lead the Nationals back to its winning ways.
Negro League Baseball - The History behind "The Taylors"
No family had a more meaningful impact on Negro League Baseball than the Taylor family. The four Taylor brothers, Charles Isham, John Boyce, James Allen, and Benjamin Harrison, helped build the early years of Negro League baseball. The Taylors are now known as the "first family" of Negro Leagues baseball.
The Taylors had nine children—three daughters and two other sons. It was enough to field their own baseball team, but these four men made a name for themselves on the diamond.
The first brother, Charles Isham "C.I." Taylor, was born on January 20, 1875, in Anderson, South Carolina. After serving in the Spanish-American War, he started his baseball career as Clark College second baseman. His professional career began in 1904 when he became the manager of the Birmingham Giants. During his managerial career, he managed the Birmingham Giants (1904-1909), West Baden Sprudels (1910-1913), and Indianapolis ABC's (1914-1921). C.I. became half-owner of the ABC's in 1914 and led them to a "Colored World Championship" in 1916 when they defeated the Chicago American Giants in the championship series. On February 23, 1922, 47-year-old C.I. died during the peak of his managerial career.
The second brother, John Boyce "Steel Arm Johnny" Taylor, was born on August 12, 1879, in Anderson, South Carolina. "Steel Arm" Johnny started his professional baseball career in 1904 and was the ace pitcher of brother C.I.'s Birmingham Giants. His baseball career spanned 21 seasons from 1904 to 1925. After his pitching career was over, he became a manager like his three brothers C.I., "Candy Jim," and Ben. Throughout his career, he played for and managed the Birmingham Giants, St. Paul Gophers, Chicago Giants, Leland Giants, Chicago Black Sox, West Baden Sprudels, St. Louis Giants, New York Lincoln Giants, Chicago American Giants, Indianapolis ABC's, Louisville White Sox, Bowser's ABC's, Hilldale, Bacharach Giants, and Washington Potomac. Johnny Taylor passed away on March 25, 1956, in Peoria, Illinois.
James Allen "Candy Jim" Taylor, the third brother, was born in Anderson, South Carolina, in 1884. Candy Jim started as a player in 1904 when the Birmingham Giants hired him as their starting third baseman. In 1919, he became a full-time player and manager doing both until he died in 1948. Candy Jim was the best manager in the history of Negro League baseball. He won more than twice as many games as any other manager. He also won the Negro League World Series twice and the Negro League National League three times.
Benjamin Harrison "Ben" Taylor was born on July 1, 1888, in Anderson, South Carolina. He was the youngest of the four Taylor brothers. His playing career spanned from 1908 to 1929. During his career, he was a .320 hitter and the top defensive first basemen of his day. Ben Taylor played on thirteen teams and managed five teams during his career. His on-field achievements led to his 2006 induction in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
The Taylor brothers’ successes established the family as a baseball dynasty.
Nationals Player Spotlight
New York, NY
Raised: Dominican Republic
Signed: 2016, Washington Nationals as an amateur free agent
MLB Debut: August 14, 2020
Favorite Food: Pollo con arroz y frijoles (Chicken with rice and beans)
Favorite Color: Red
Favorite Hobby: Golf
Family: Wife, Annileni
Pets: Dog - Pomeranian, named Louis
Advice for Youth Players: Work hard and play hard
STEM Education: "OBP"
On-Base Percentage (OBP) is a baseball statistic used to measure how often a batter reaches base in his plate appearances. On-base percentage is different from batting average (AVG). OBP measures how often a player reaches base by a hit, walk and hit by pitch but does not include reaching base by error or fielder’s choice. AVG evaluates how often a player reaches base by a hit only. A good batting average is .300 or better and a good on base percentage is .330 or better.
Coaches may prefer to use OBP in designing their batting order. Some players may not have a high batting average but may have a high on-base percentage. Players with a high OBP may be put in a lineup ahead of a team’s best hitters or sluggers to increase the chances of scoring runs.
To calculate OBP, find the following player’s statistics: hits (H), walks (BB), hit by pitch (HBP), at-bats (AB), and sacrifice flies (SF).
- Add H+BB+HBP
- Add AB+BB+HBP+SF
- Divide the total of number one by the total of number two to get OBP
What was playoff hero Howie Kendrick’s OBP for the 2019 postseason?
(H+BB+HBP) / (AB+BB+HBP+SF) = OBP
(18 +4+ 0) / (63 + 4 +0 + 0)=
Off-Season at Nationals Park - Not Just for Baseball
Nationals Park is more than just a baseball stadium; it is also a community resource for Washington, D.C., and the surrounding region. Since its completion in 2008, Nationals Park is one of the most sought-after venues for a variety of outdoor events.
Enchant is the World's Largest Christmas Light Spectacular and it will be at Nationals Park from Friday, November 25, through Sunday, January 1. This event is a great place to explore a magical land where the holidays comes to life.
The experience includes a light maze created from more than four million lights, a spectacular 100-foot tall Christmas tree, holiday shopping marketplace, an ice skating trail right on the Nationals Park field, live music and Santa visits. It is a festive adventure that families will always remember.