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This Just In ...

Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely young daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.

Franklin All-Star snub is perfect example of what's wrong with Little League

 

All this past winter, 12-year old Devin Baehr of Franklin worked hard in rented out gyms, throwing fastballs. His dream was to make the Little League All-Star team this season.

The regiment seemed to be successful. Baehr was a pitching powerhouse, leading his Franklin Rockies to first place with a record of 6-0. Virtually unhittable, Baehr went 4-0 as a starter, striking out 36 batters, walking only three while compiling a sparkling earned run average of 0.50 that would make Yovanni Gallardo envious. He pitched two shutouts and gave up only two runs in four complete games. It was customary for Devin to reach an 85-pitch count each game. Those are amazing numbers.

His father, Carl Baehr told his son during the off-season that it would be “ridiculous” if he didn’t make the All-Star Team, and his incredible statistics, the best of any starting pitcher in the league made Devin appear to be an All-Star shoo-in.

On June 8, 2009, the All-Star Team was announced and Devin’s name was missing.

‘I was devastated,” Carl Baehr told me in an interview.

“I was pretty mad,” said Devin Baehr. “I felt cheated.”

The All-Stars are selected by the managers of each Little League team about halfway through the season. While Devin’s name was noticeably absent from the final list, other players on teams that lost to Devin, players who were sons of managers from other teams that lost to Devin and his Rockies were curiously named All-Stars.

Upon learning that Devin was omitted, Carl Baehr told his son, “Politics happens, the world isn’t fair. What do you want to do?”

Devin who is a 6th grader at Southwood Glens Elementary School in Franklin knew immediately.

“I didn’t want to play anymore,” Devin told me. “I didn’t think the league was fair.”

Devin quit the team with about a week of games remaining. His father uses a different word, saying his son is now boycotting the Rockies, and he fully supports the decision he says Devin made on his own.

“He felt it would be more meaningful to walk away from it. If being the best doesn’t get you in as an All-Star, why continue?”

“I feel I made the right decision,” said Devin.

After Devin departed, his former team has gone 1-3.

Being named an All-Star is a big deal. Each All-Star receives a special jersey and a plaque. What’s more, the only way for a player to get into the Little League World Series and play for the championship in Williamsport, Pennsylvania is to be declared an All-Star.

“I’m not one of those parents who thinks their kid is perfect,” said Carl who felt All-Star selections should be based solely on performance.

Here’s where the story goes from ugly to uglier.

The proud but distraught father circulated flyers around the Little League field in Franklin that proclaimed the Franklin Little League was corrupted by nepotism and the good ol’ boys. He soon got a phone call from the Franklin police informing him that the president of the Franklin Little League had complained about the flyers and that if he showed up at any Franklin Little League games, that he could be arrested for trespassing.

I repeatedly asked Carl Baehr, who is hoping the Little League will change its process for selecting All-Stars if there was more to this story, if there was a personal axe to grind or any other possible reason his son was blackballed.  He insisted there wasn’t.

“Devin’s a very likeable kid,” said Baehr.

This is a very unfortunate story that illustrates all that’s wrong with what should be the wonderful experience of Little League.

I have no idea what would motivate opposing coaches not to put whatever competitive feelings they have aside and select Devin Baehr as an All-Star. If what Devin’s father says is true, then there are petty, personal jealous parents unjustly and unfairly penalizing a deserving young boy and depriving him of what he has worked so hard for and has rightfully earned. The numbers don’t lie.

To rob this young boy of what he unquestionably achieved on the field is one thing. To then involve the local police is another. How pathetic!

Another kid played better than your kid. Be a man. Be a proper role model, Do the honorable thing, explain to your child that this is part of life, and congratulate the other child.

As for Devin, he’s not done with organized baseball. He wants to play again, “just not for Franklin.” He told me his dream is to be a major league pitcher someday. I hope he gets his wish.

But I had to ask. Devin, isn’t there a part of you that wanted to keep playing Little League and show them what a terrible mistake they made? What do you say to those people who think you should have hung in there and kept going despite how badly you felt?

“They’re not in my shoes,” said Devin.

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