This past weekend the Bearcats baseball team finished up full team fall workouts with their annual Red and Black World Series. The Black squad prevailed by taking the first and third games of the three game series. Several former Bearcats were on hand throughout the weekend to get a look at the newest version of the team. One of those in attendance was Kevin Wilson, who played at Cincinnati from 1998 until 2001.
After leaving the Cincinnati program Wilson went on to play professionally for several independent teams over the next few years. In 2001 he also started Kevin Wilson Baseball with his friend and mentor Jeff Manto who is currently the hitting coach for the Chicago White Sox.
“I teamed up with (Manto) and we started our own little academy. We had a 55,000 square foot facility. It was just two baseball guys running this big facility and a business. We learned real quick that’s not our forte. “
In 2006 the two decided to part ways on the project. Manto was coaching in Major League Baseball and had less time to dedicate to the project, while Wilson still wanted to run a private hitting school. He used his connections through coaching to continue his business.
“I started coaching in the minor leagues in independent ball and my clientele grew every year just by word of mouth. Now I am in my eleventh year of doing it and we have got guys from the big leagues all the way down to rookie ball and college guys and high school players.”
Prior to the third game of the Red and Black World Series Wilson had a chance to address the current Bearcat baseball team and tried to convey what being a Bearcat meant to him.
“It was a heartfelt talk with these guys. Just telling them what it is like to be a Bearcat. When I came here in the fall of 1997 this program was not nearly like this. We played at Johnny Bench Field and we had a locker room in Armory Fieldhouse. I remember going to class and kids saying they played on the baseball team and looking at them and thinking, but you weren’t at the 6:00 AM lift this morning. It was almost a joke the baseball program was. When (head coach) Brian (Cleary) came in he changed the culture. I am proud to say we changed the culture as well. We took pride in understanding what the C-Paw meant. That’s what Brian instilled in us. I tried to relay that to the kids today.”
This year’s team is extremely young, but Wilson saw a lot of potential in the short time he watched batting practice and the weekend games. He was also able to give some of his expert advice to the players on the team.
“I think we have some pretty good hitters. They remind me a lot of typical college guys where they have maybe got an idea of how to swing, but they don’t have an idea of how to hit yet. I put myself in that same boat back when I was here. If anyone says they knew what they were doing right when they came in they’d be crazy. (Kevin) Youkilis was the one guy that you knew right away that he knew how to hit. I think Brian does a great job with the staff and they do a great job with these guys. I hope they appreciate it because what they are telling these guys is going to help them. I think the swings will come along as they get to know how to play the college game and how to hit.”
The Bearcat baseball team will now take what they have learned this fall and the advice Wilson gave them into individual workouts until full team practice begins again in January in preparation for the 2013 season.