Michael Bosveld is only a seven-year-old second grader at Kearny’s Roosevelt School, but he was able to talk about what he learned at the annual Kearny Kids Kamp for aspiring baseball players held last week at Franklin School.
“I learned how to throw the baseball with three fingers,” Bosveld said. “I learned how to use my whole body when I throw. I learned to hold the ball with the seams. I also learned to always keep my eye on the ball and keep the ball on the bat. I also learned to catch the ball with two hands, to get the ball and then close the glove.”
Yes, Michael is only seven. But he spoke like he was a grizzled veteran.
“I had a lot of fun,” Bosveld said. “It was great to be here.”
Bosveld wasn’t alone with his feelings about learning baseball and having a good time.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Michael Antunes, who is only six years old and will be a first grader at Garfield School. “I learned to always keep my eye on the ball and I learned how to throw a four-seam fastball.”
There were older kids present as well who also wanted to learn more about the national pastime.
“I learned to try to stay inside the ball and then drive it up the middle,” said Chris Serrano, a 13-year-old who will be in the eighth grade at Lincoln School this fall. “It really helped me a lot as a player.”
Serrano plays shortstop in the Kearny Senior Little League.
“This also helped me to get to know who the coaches are, so I can be ready when I get to Kearny High next year,” Serrano said. “But I had a lot of fun.”
Jack Cullen is a 13-year-old who is headed into the eighth grade at Lincoln School as well.
“I worked on my hitting a lot,” Cullen said. “With my size, I’m expected to hit a lot of homers, but I only hit the fence. I want to get more power. That’s why I’m here.”
The camp was not limited to just boys. There were a handful of girls who attended as well.
“I came here two years ago and I enjoyed it,” said nine-year-old Emma Carson, a fourth grader at Schuyler School. “I don’t have any problem being with the boys because I have two brothers, so I’m used to it. I like it here and I like playing baseball.”
Emma was asked what she learned most over the course of the week.
“I learned how to throw the ball properly and run the bases properly,” Carson said.
Isabella Fortatalo was another girl who attended.
“I actually play softball, but I like baseball,” Fortatalo said. “I thought I could come here and learn a lot about baseball.”
How about being with the boys?
“The boys just make you work harder,” Fortatalo said. “I try hard to be better than them.”
Fortatalo also said that she worked hard on gripping the baseball.
“I learned how to hold the ball properly and throw it,” Fortatalo said.
That’s all good news for camp director Dave Smart, who inherited the Kearny Kids Kamp from former head coach Frank Bifulco, who has left the district to become the athletic director at Millburn High School.
“We had good numbers because we had short notice putting it all together,” Smart said. “We had 51 kids. We had to put things together quickly. With Frankie leaving, we didn’t want to lose the Kamp. The parents were a tremendous help. They helped to publicize it on Facebook. That was a huge help.”
Smart said that he was grateful to have a lot of the current and former coaching staff on hand to help run the camp. Former head coach Jim Sickinger, Harrison head coach Jairo Mendez (a Kearny High graduate), and current assistants Doug Gogal, Jeff Caputo and Jay Scavalla were all there to lend a helping hand.
“We worked well as a team and it came out great,” Smart said. “For me, it was just a case of put me on the field and let me do my thing.”
Smart was encouraged by the youngsters.
“They really wanted to be there and wanted to show everyone that they could play,” Smart said. “There was a lot of nice young talent there. It gets me excited to see what they will become when they get to Kearny High.”
Smart, who hopes to become the new head coach after Bifulco’s departure, said that he loved working with the younger kids.
“The little ones are a lot of fun,” Smart said. “The things they say are incredible. They listen and learn so much, more than anyone else. They get out there and get after it. Their attitude shows how much they love the sport.
Added Smart, “They all bring so much to the table that I’m encouraged by it. It wasn’t hard to get excited with the younger ones being so eager. I loved this camp. It was great to be there.”
And it was obviously great for the youngsters to have a chance to learn from the very best.
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Jim Hague | Observer Sports Writer
Sports Writer Jim Hague was with The Observer for 20+ years — and his name is one of the most recognizable in all of sports journalism. The St. Peter’s Prep and Marquette alum kicked off his journalism career post Marquette at the Daily Record, where he remained until 1985. Following shorts stints at two other newspapers, in September 1986, he joined the now-closed Hudson Dispatch, where he remained until 1991, when its doors were finally shut.
It was during his tenure at The Dispatch that Hague’s name and reputation as one of country’s hardest-working sports reporters grew. He won several New Jersey Press Association and North Jersey Press Club Awards in that timeframe.
In 1991, he became a columnist for The Hudson Reporter chain of newspapers — and he remains with them to this day.
In addition to his work at The Observer and The Hudson Reporter, Hague is also an Associated Press stringer, where he covers Seton Hall University men’s basketball, New York Red Bulls soccer and occasionally, New Jersey Devils hockey.
He’s also doing work at The Morristown Daily Record, the very newspaper where his journalism career began.
During his career, he also worked for Dorf Feature Services, which provided material for the Star-Ledger. While there, he covered the New York Knicks and the New Jersey Nets.
Hague is also known for his announcing work — and he’s done PA work for Rutgers Newark and NJIT.
Hague is the author of the book “Braddock: The Rise of the Cinderella Man.”