Kevin Keefer knows a thing or two about baseball.
The assistant Cosumnes River College coach has been a longtime contributor to the Davis diamond scene.
Keefer is a lifelong local man who played at Davis High (Class of 1979), went on to excel at Cal Poly and has spent a lion’s share of his “down” time helping area kids become better ball players.
His son Cody is a former Blue Devil who is now a minor-league pro after a standout career at UCLA.
The senior Keefer coaches two teams offshore of Little League, provides hitting instruction and will talk baseball with whomever he encounters.
But Keefer has noticed something is missing around here.
“This town has had what people call ‘daddyball,’ ” Keefer told me the other day, alluding to the many travel-ball teams in the county, his included (he coaches two). “There is no structure, however. There are few resources to hire proven coaches, so dads coach their kids.
“If you look at the other communities: Chico Aces has 11 teams. Hard 90 and Golden Spikes (both El Dorado), Best Speed of South Sacramento all have organizations. Elk Grove has two working with the kids,” Keefer explains. “Each is run by baseball people, getting quality coaching. You could really see the difference in teams (baseball schools vs. the so-called daddyballers).”
That said, Keefer made this announcement …
“The Davis Baseball Academy has been formed. We’ll start this spring … our home field will be at the southwest corner of Harper Junior High and we will work it so we encourage our players to pursue Davis Little League while getting top-notch coaching at various levels,” the 52-year-old mentor said.
Milwaukee Brewers scout Justin McCray — a Davis man who has three baseball-playing offspring — has joined the academy and Keefer has hired a couple of his CRC players as coaches.
Keefer adds that he has his eye on a couple of former DHS players who are public-school instructors in the region.
“The academy will have coaching that our kids aren’t getting other places,” Keefer continued.
He said the academy will be open to players with elevated skills and to players who are just getting their feet wet in baseball. There will be teams of varying abilities, but the most competitive of the Davis Baseball Academy squads will see regular tournament action.
He expects to field multiple teams, accommodating players ages 10 through high school.
McCray, who played in three MLB systems, says he wants to see Little League keep its numbers. Joining the DBA would allow participation in both.
McCray and Keefer joined forces last month at the JC Showcase, conducted at American River College.
The Brewers scout was looking for talent, Keefer was shepherding his players. The two started talking …
“What I’ve taken away from it is Davis is a little bit behind when it comes to developing players,” McCray, also a Cal Poly grad, explained. “This will be taking it to the next level in terms of instruction (and competition).”
And without getting in the way of traditional Little League and the family atmosphere that is so cool at the Davis Little League Complex on F Street.
Keefer thanked Davis schools facilities chief Mike Adell for working with him to establish a site.
According to Keefer, a written memorandum of understanding between the schools and academy is the next step — then it’s off to the races to get the field in shape for opening day.
Keefer and his volunteers — of whom he says he has many, but could always use more — will grade the Harper field, get seating installed, find a storage shed and turn the place into a miniature field of … well, you get the idea.
“We’ll get it done by spring. … Several teams will be using it,” Keefer promised.
The program will have a website up next week (www.davisebaseballacademy.com) and if people want more information immediately, Keefer welcomes them to call him at 916-717-1914.
“They’ll be getting coaching in which they’ll learn the right techniques and know what to do when they reach high school,” Keefer said, adding: “And we’ll also have an emphasis on education. We want these guys to be good students.
“The better your grades are, the longer you play. We want them to go on to college.”
While I Have You Here: Among those joining McCray and Keefer on the DBA board are Cosumnes coach/Davis resident Tony Bloomfield and DHS coach Dan Ariola.
Keefer says the cost of kids being involved with the DBA has not been set in stone, “but we know it will be much less expensive than those other schools.”
The academy will build in scholarships for kids who can’t afford to get involved.
Fundraisers, in-kind contributions to construct field amenities plus good, old-fashioned donations are on the horizon.
“We’re thinking of ways to let everyone participate,” concludes Keefer. “We want to keep the player costs down.”
And the skill levels up.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8047.