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Local Grassroots Effort Hopes to Save Baseball for Future Generations

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Yorktown resident Pat Geoghegan, a former college baseball player has partnered to launch the Save the Game effort in hopes of making baseball more appealing.

Everywhere you turn, a familiar lament from baseball fans has been the interminable length of games and lack of action on the field.

Over the past 10 to 20 years, strikeouts have soared and managers and Major League organizations too often rely on analytics to tell them what to do.

Yorktown resident Pat Geoghegan and former Croton-on-Hudson resident Kevin Gallagher are tired of complaining, so they’re taking matters into their own hands to save the game that they grew up playing and have enjoyed throughout their lives.

The two former college baseball standouts have partnered with former Major Leaguer Jeff Frye, an infielder mainly for Texas and Boston during a nine-year career in the 1990s, to start a social media campaign and petition drive to get the attention of baseball brass that the way the game is taught and played must change.

Their just-launched effort, Save the Game, looks to collect at least one million signatures in an online petition over the coming months to present to Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred and other influential people in the sport. Of serious concern has been the plummeting television ratings, and perhaps worse, the dwindling participation and interest in baseball among children.

“If that does not reverse itself, the game of baseball as we know it may be irrelevant in 10 or 15 years,” said Geoghegan, 60, who played for Mercy College on a scholarship. Gallagher, who now lives in Florida, attended Pace University, where he was a baseball and basketball star.

“That kid is going to be lost,” Geoghegan continued. “They’re not going to be there in 10 or 15 years. Are they going to be there to buy tickets to go to a Major League Baseball game? We think it’s a challenge. So we’re taking this and doing some grassroots efforts as well.”

The multipronged approach is to not only convince Major League bigwigs that most players don’t need to be swinging for the fences every time they’re at the plate, but to more effectively teach the fundamentals of the sport at the youth level. For example, making contact more effectively will enable children to have more fun, even if they’re not going to go on and play collegiately or professionally, Geoghegan said.

If they have fun, then there is greater likelihood they will remain interested in baseball when they are adults and watch and attend Major League games to help grow the sport.

Gallagher wrote a book a few years ago, “Teach Your Kid to Hit So They Won’t Quit,” stressing how to make better contact, lessons that most any parent can use to help their child.

“A parent could actually teach a kid how to hit a baseball because it’s one of the hardest things to do,” Geoghegan said. “But if you have this top-hand hitting approach that Kevin espouses, well, you can hit a baseball, or if it’s for young girls, you can hit a softball, too. It applies to both baseball and softball, so from that he got a lot of positive feedback.”

Putting fun back into the game with action may be a key for the game to appeal to future generations. Studies have shown that baseball has been steadily losing its grip on Americans’ attention over the past 20 years, Geoghegan said. World Series viewership has cratered by 54 percent since 2003, according to sportsnaut.com. As a result, the value of Major League Baseball’s network contracts is dwarfed by those signed by the NFL and NBA.

Trends tracking youth participation in baseball are just as alarming, Geoghegan said. Since 2008, children from six to 12 years old playing in youth leagues has dropped 26.1 percent. All of that is a recipe for disaster.

“What excites people about football is the drive down the field,” he said. “The touchdown, the field goal is the culmination of that drive. Well, in baseball it’s the rally. Somebody gets on, somebody hits behind the man, its first and third, you squeeze him in, you move him over, whatever you do that is the excitement part of the game.”

Geoghegan and Gallagher have been in contact with people who work in Major League Baseball and they have acknowledged the validity of their argument. But too many are hesitant to speak out because they may forfeit their jobs or promotions.

“What worked for the previous 125 years got thrown out the window, and look what’s happened to the game since then,” Geoghegan said.

To learn more about Save the Game or to sign the petition, visit www.savethegameus.com.

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