Every year USA Baseball puts together events and teams that attract the best baseball players from around the country. Team USA also prides itself on bringing the best coaches and evaluators to help put teams together and lead them in various international tournaments.
Its easy to notice the relationships the players develop as they climb the ranks in baseball, but the coaches share the same experiences. Last month, while on spring break, Ernie Padron brought his varsity and junior varsity teams up from Miamis Florida Christian School to the Raleigh-Durham area to play three games against North Carolina schools. Normally, schools head to South Florida for spring break, but this was a special circumstance. Padron brought his team north so they could play against his friend, Charlie Spivey—the head coach at Lee County High in Sanford, N.C.
Spend some time with Padron and Spivey and you would think they have known each other for years, playing with or against each other in high school, college or pro ball. However, they have only known each other for three years and their paths to their current positions are a bit different. They met in 2008 as part of Team USAs 16U staff.
“It was one of those situations where we felt like weve known each other all our lives,” Spivey said. “Hes one of the funniest people Ive met. Theres never a dull moment with him.”
In 2008, as assistants under Garye LaFevers, Padron and Spivey traveled to Vera Cruz, Mexico and won a gold medal with players like Bryce Harper, Nicky Delmonico, Philip Pfeifer and Peter Tago.
In 2009, Padron stayed on and traveled with the team to Taiwan, while Spivey only served as a scout at the 16U Championships. In 2010, the roles reversed somewhat. Padron was slated to be the head coach with Spivey assisting, but when some international dates got moved Padron had to stay back while Spivey traveled with the team.
“Its been an awesome experience,” Padron said. “To work with that level of talent, its been a blast. The kids are hungry and they listen. Its a tribute to the coaches that have prepared them before we get them.”
Padron was a lefthander, but got hurt his senior year and didnt play beyond high school. He jumped into coaching right away and got his first head coaching position at 23 years old at La Progresiva High in Miami.
“I was not blessed with a lot of ability,” he said. “I threw a lot of offspeed stuff. I just had a passion and love for the game.”
Padron made a stop at Dade Christian School in Hialeah, Fla., where he won a state title in 1996, before taking over at Florida Christian in 1998. From 2001-2006, Florida Christian appeared in the state final four, winning titles in 2004-2005 and finishing as runner-up in 2003 and 2006.
“Hes an outstanding pitching guy,” Spivey said. “He has a great knack of watching kids hit and knowing how to pitch them.”
Spivey was an infielder at North Carolina from 1973-1977 and has been at Lee County since 1984.
“Ive won a couple state championships (1996 and 2001), but nothing compares to playing for USA and wearing that jersey,” Spivey said. “Winning a gold medal is incredible, a lot bigger than I ever thought. Youre talking about being the best in the world.”
Florida Christian returned to Spiveys turf on the last day of the trip to face Pinecrest High of Southern Pines, N.C., which also has a Team USA member leading the way.
Jeff Hewitt is the head coach at Pinecrest and will serve in the same capacity for the 14U team this summer. He grew up near Morehead City, N.C. and played with No. 1 overall pick Brien Taylor in 1991. After two years at Methodist College in Fayetteville, Hewitt transfered to East Carolina. Hes been at Pinecrest since 2000.
“Its been an unbelievable experience,” Hewitt said. “We all have a common goal of developing young players. I love to work with young kids and develop a relationship with them. You cant coach them otherwise.”
• The potential high school matchup of the year was postponed due to rain and cold. Owasso (Okla.) High was set to host Broken Arrow and aces Dylan Bundy and Archie Bradley were set to make starts for their respective teams.
• Bishop Amat High (La Puente, Calif.) upset No. 1 St. Francis in the second round of the National Classic before going on to win the title.
• Farragut High (Knoxville) lefthander Philip Pfeifer will be unavailable for the April 30 game against Science Hill High (Johnson City, Tenn.). Lefty Daniel Norris will get the start for Science Hill. Baseball America will still travel to see Norris face catcher Nicky Delmonico.
• Righthander Taylor Guerrieri was electric in his latest start. Conor Glassey filed a game report from Columbia and well have more in our Draft Preview issue.
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