Former pros pitch in at youth camp
John Dillinger and Clint Weibl have a lot in common. Both were Connellsville High School graduates in the early 1990s and both went on to have lengthy pitching careers in professional baseball. This summer, both Dillinger and Weibl have teamed up to offer instruction to some of the area's young baseball players as part of the Connellsville Parks and Recreation Authority's summer sports program.
"Melissa Tzan (Connellsville Parks and Recreation Authority board member) approached John and I and asked if we wanted to do something for the community of Connellsville," Weibl said. "I enjoy working with the kids because they want to be here and they want to get better, and those are the kids that I want to teach."
According to Dillinger (1991 Connellsville graduate), teaming up with Weibl (1993 Connellsville graduate) was an easy decision.
"We always ran across each other in different cities during our careers and we always kept track of the sports programs at Connellsville," Dillinger said. "We noticed a swift decline over the years and we discussed doing something like this, and Clint brought it to fruition."
The sessions were held at Connellsville High School and at Bats and Bows, Weibl's business in Franklin Township, which serves as an indoor batting cage and archery range.
"The best part is the kids are having fun," Dillinger said. "They are taking our instruction and trying to put it to work."
The clinic's first season, which ends today, attracted 14 players ranging in age from 6-14. Weibl noted that all of the young players were eager to learn.
"I'm happy with the way it's gone," Weibl said, noting that he intends to hold similar clinics in the spring at Bats and Bows.
Of course, one of the main objectives of the clinic is to keep the kids active and allow them to enjoy themselves.
"Anything like this that gets them away from video games is good," Weibl said. "They're having fun and at a young age, it's about having fun."
Weibl, 35, pitched in the minor leagues from 1996-2005. He spent parts of eight seasons in Class AAA with the Memphis Redbirds in the Pacific Coast League and the Indianapolis Indians in the International League. He compiled a career minor league record of 67-65 with a 4.26 ERA.
Dillinger, 36, had a 12-year minor league career from 1992-2005, including parts of two seasons with the Class AAA Syracuse Skychiefs and Columbus Clippers in the International League and the Salt Lake Stingers in the Pacific Coast League. He compiled a career minor league record of 68-70 with a 4.30 ERA.