Sports: PERFECT PLAYCEMENT Might be Right for You

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Yorktown grad Mark Leinweaver, owner of PERFECT PLAYCEMENT.
Yorktown grad Mark Leinweaver, owner of PERFECT PLAYCEMENT.

So I’m talking with my California-based buddy Mark Leinweaver – a 1990s Yorktown High grad who I covered during his baseball heyday under former Yorktown Coach Bob Sarro, who guided the Huskers to their second Section 1 title back in 1995 (1969 the other).

Marky-Mark is telling me about this company he’s started called “PERFECT PLAYCEMENT”, and his upcoming trip back to the east coast where he hopes to promote his new venture, which specializes in assisting high school student-athletes find the perfect college to continue their playing career and study in their preferred field.

“I doubt very much that any of the old guard is still out there coaching, so I’m hoping you can point me in the right direction of some local coaches in the area,” Leinweaver says in regards to some of the summer ball programs that might be in action this time of year.

“Actually, there is one guy from the old guard still out there doing his thing,” I tell Leinweaver. “Sonny Graci is still at the helm of the SOAC/Mahopac Post 1080 American Legion team.”

“Oh my god, I played for Sonny, are you kidding me,” Leinweaver says. “Can you get me his schedule for the week of June 25-27 when I’m back in town?”

As luck would have it, Sonny Graci’s team is playing at Lakeland High this Friday night and Leinweaver expects to be on hand, pressing palms and passing out cards in an effort to reach new clients. Leinweaver has spent 20 years working in baseball as a professional agent, media relations director, TV and radio broadcaster, author, television writer and producer. He is a frequent speaker in and around the Los Angeles area, including at the University of Southern California, about “How To Get A Job In Sports”.

The former Stonehill College catcher has advised hundreds of students on how to break into the sports industry. While at the baseball agency in Cali, his responsibilities included making dozens of cold calls and sending hundreds of emails each week while managing a myriad of business matters for clients. His book, Minor Moments, Major Memories, debuted in bookstores nationwide in 2005 and a dramatic television series inspired by the book was recently sold to Sony Pictures Television.

Leinweaver and his partner, Jake Robbins, a former MLB pitcher with the Cleveland Indians and 11th round draft pick by the New York Yankees in 1994, are conscious of the fact that millions of student athletes and their parents in this country believe their children are good enough to earn a scholarship to any college in the country. But instead of preying on unrealistic goals, their intent is to place li’l Johnny and li’l Jenny in a situation more befitting their skill sets while setting them up with a plan for the future when 99% of them fail to get drafted into their sport of choice.

“We believe that 99% of student-athletes who actively participate on their varsity high school team could play at the college level somewhere in the country and find a school that is right in size, location, proximity from home and desired field of study,” Leinweaver said.

Some folks don’t even know how to facilitate the process, and some coaches don’t have the commitment or time to assist their student athletes take the next step.

“Many high school student-athletes don’t know how, when or even where to begin the process of playing in college,” Leinweaver said. “Too often, their coaches don’t have the time, resources or unfortunately, the interest, in helping with that process. As a result, many parents find themselves helpless in gaining assistance for their son or daughter. That’s where PERFECT PLAYCEMENT comes in.”

You guys know I would not give you the bum steer, so if you want a free consultation hit up my man Mark Leinweaver at or visit the site at and tell him Direct Rays sent you…

Now, speaking of the venerable Graci; the old man by the sea is still at it, strolling baseball diamonds across the state as perhaps the elder statesman among NYS American Legion managers.

On June 14, after a four-day, five-game legion tournament with eight teams from the tri-state area, the Shrub Oak American Legion Post 1080 team won the Joe Graci Memorial Tournament where Putnam Valley junior Charlie Pagani was named the MVP. Pagani came in and closed out the championship game for the save, while batting .470 for the tournament. He made a slew of spectacular plays on the infield, including the second and third outs on a pivotal triple play.

There are literally thousands of former student athletes from Northern Westchester and Putnam County who have played under Graci, the former Kansas City Royals and current Atlanta Braves scout and Lakeland High assistant, who has mentored baseball players for half a century, and done so without ripping folks off. While other baseball organizations are charging an arm and a leg to for Junior to play ball these days, Coach Graci has managed to keep the cost of baseball at a reasonable level – thanks in part to sponsor American Legion Post 1080 of Mahopac — while providing a stiff level of competition.

And as the years crawl up on him, Graci should know that appreciation is at an all-time high, according to Steve Rosen, a longtime friend, SOAC President and Lakeland High School Board Trustee.

“Sonny has helped many players get into college as his teams play in many summer tournaments that college coaches attend,” Rosen said. “Sonny is known by everybody in the community for his big heart when it comes to helping kids in the area. He has served on the SOAC board of directors for over 20 years as Senior Baseball Director and done a terrific job.”

Based on the longevity of Post 1080’s success, that might be an understatement…

Congrats to Croton-Harmon High baseball Coach Eric Rosen on being named Section 1 Class B Coach of the Year. My man has essentially drawn blood from a stone over there, taking a downtrodden program and making winners out of the river city folk with two years of 12-plus wins. That hasn’t happened often at Croton the last quarter century…

Hats off to Putnam Valley’s Steven Brown, who has accomplished an amazing task for his Eagle Scout project by building a 5K trail in the woods around the PV High and Middle schools. He built this from scratch, saving the school district over $75,000 had they done it without him. The district can now can host 5K events and cross country meets on a course dedicated to Caitlyn Bagnato, a 15-year-old who passed away in 2009 from a rare form of liver cancer. Indeed, the Caitlyn Bagnato Memorial 5K Trail is a welcome addition to the Valley…

Not a big fan of Caitlyn Jenner receiving ESPN’s Arthur Ashe Courage Award; just seems to me like attention-starved ESPN is exploiting the system here. Sure, Jenner found inner peace but hasn’t played competitive sports since the ‘70s, so in terms of current events I feel like Lauren Hill is far more deserving. Before her tragic passing this year, she inspired millions with her perseverance in the face of her brain tumors. To think Jenner’s gender change is more courageous than a 19-year-old girl with inoperable cancer fulfilling her dream to play college basketball and inspire millions of people while doing so is unconscionable.

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