Bobby Sprowl moved to the side to get better view as campers walked forward to pick up baseballs that laid still on the infield dirt.
It’s was a slow-motion style drill meant to show the campers the proper approach and technique to one of baseball’s most fundamental part — fielding ground balls
“Don’t get in a hurry,” Sprowl says to one over-eager camper.
In today’s baseball, Sprowl said players are too anxious to get to the meat of the game. At his camp, he wants the youngsters learning regardless of their age or skill level.
The former major leaguer and longtime Shelton State Community College (Tuscaloosa) head baseball coach returned to Scottsboro this week for his annual youth camp. Sprowl has been holding the camp since 1995.
“It’s my favorite camp,” Sprowl said. “They’re really good kids. The kids always listen. It’s so fun to watch these younger kids. They’re wanting to learn and that’s what you want to see. It’s been a fun week.”
The camp began Monday and concludes today at the Veterans Field Complex. Shelton State assistant coach Jackson Vickers, Shelton State former and current players Jacob Green, Sage Smelley, Colby Smelley, Ethan Holsenback and Jody Colvin, an assistant coach at Helena High School, are working with Sprowl. Approximately 70 players are attended the camp.
“We’ve got some older kids that are good players and some younger ones, that like always, are wanting to learn,” Sprowl said. “The amazing thing is some of these kids have been here for five or six years, so you get to see their progress.”
Sprowl, an Ohio native, pitched collegiately at Alabama and professionally for four seasons for the Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros. He’s been the head coach at Shelton State for 34 years, with a stint in the 1990s as Alabama’s pitching coach in between two tenures at SSCC. The Alabama Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer eclipsed the 1,000-win mark for his career during Shelton State’s 35-21, ACCC North Division-winning season in 2019.
Sprowl has always stressed the finer details of the game with his players and does the same with his campers.
“I try to stress doing things the right way and make sure they’re having fun doing it,” he said. “You teach them while they’re having fun. If you do that, they’re going to learn it.”