Sunday, May 23, 2004
Q&A: Larry Redwine
Larry Redwine founded the Southwest Ohio League in the fall of 1984. Recently,
he sat for a telephone Q&A with Enquirer reporter John Erardi.
Q. What have you noticed about the state of the young pitching arms in the Southwest Ohio League?
A. You've got a lot of things clashing (with the league's strict rules on how often a youngster can pitch). Parental ego is at the top of the list. Number two, is the coaches' desire to win. Some of them are fantasizing that they are managing the New York Yankees in the seventh game of the World Series. Third, is the kids' desire to win and be a star. When you get those things working together, you have a dangerous combination.
Q. Why do you think there are more throwing injuries today than there were, say, 10 or 15 years ago?
A. I don't think there is a higher percentage of injuries, but I think there are more being reported and more (being recorded). Kids are going to the orthopedist when their arms hurt, and they're getting good information on how to deal with it. Years ago, they'd go to the family doctor, and the treatment isn't what it is today.
Q. How many games were the kids playing in the Southwest Ohio League 20 years ago, compared to how many they're playing today?
A. When I first started the Southwest Ohio League, kids played 12 to 16 games a year until they were age 16, and then they'd play 70 to 80 games. That, to me, is too big of a jump ... Now, there are some 10-year-old teams who play as many as 75 to 80 games; they play from early March into late October. You need to have a lot of pitchers, you need to have strict pitch counts, you need to have kids on a throwing program (between their starts).
Q. So you think throwing a lot is important?
A. Yes. Sometimes I wonder if kids are throwing enough. I didn't say "pitching," I said "throwing." And I didn't say throwing off a mound. I was like a lot of guys. I never had an arm problem. But every day I wasn't playing, I was throwing a rubber ball of my house. We had a brick house. I'd throw the ball off that wall until the cows came home. I did it every single day, 70 to 80 pitches a day.
Q. So you think too much throwing of a mound can be a problem?
A. Yes. Throwing off the mound is the biggest issue. It's a debilitating process. Now, we have a program similar to what the major leaguers do between starts. It's a lot of flat-ground throwing.
Q. So, you're relatively happy with the way kids' arms are being protected in the Southwest Ohio League?
A. I wish I could say that. In the fall of '84, we had six teams and formed the league. Now we have 360 teams at 11 age levels. That's 5,000 kids. We have (rules) to protect the kids. But there are (still) coaches who pitch the kids too much. We are always trying to identify them, and cajole them, and even belittle them, to wake them up. We need coaches to care more about the kids, and less about their "coaching careers."
Q. What about the parents?
A. They can be every bit as contributory to the problem (of over-pitching kids, because they want their kids to pitch a lot and be the star of a winning team). We need everybody to care more about the kids.
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