Traverse City Record-Eagle

July 21, 2013

Former Traverse City player turns author

BY DENNIS CHASE dchase@record-eagle.com
Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — About 10 years ago, Bobby Humphrey put together a 20-page instructional guide on catching.

"It's something that I'd give to kids periodically," the former Traverse City Central and Spring Arbor catcher said. "I knew that it had been passed down. So, I thought, 'Let's take it one step further, make it a book with photos, elaborations.'"

That idea is about to become reality when his first foray into self-publishing, a book called "The Tools of Greatness," will be available on the Xlibris Web site.

"I should have the final galley this week," he said. "At the very, very earliest, it could be for sale by the end of next week."

Humphrey, an assistant baseball coach at Southern Virginia University, covers all aspects of the position in the in-depth instructional book — attitude and leadership, framing, blocking, throwing, defensive plays at the plate, basic practice routines.

"It's for beginners through advanced," he said. "I break down the entire position. I tried to be as conscientious of my audience as possible so I tried to make many aspects as basic as possible. I want kids, coaches, parents at the Civic Center, for instance, to be able to use this book (as a development guide)."

Humphrey has included about 50 photographs in the book to help illustrate his points.

Most of the information comes from Humphrey's experience behind the plate and what he gleaned during his playing days. He also reached out to other professionals, who share their tips as well. One contributor is Mario Garza, the catching instructor with the New York Yankees.

"Mario Garza helped with the framing and throwing (segments)," Humphrey said. "He helped (Yankees manager) Joe Girardi re-write the organizational catching manual for the New York Yankees. A lot of what he gave me is for those at the professional level."

Humphrey, an associate scout for the New York Mets, calls framing one of the most important aspects of the position that is often overlooked.

"My supervisor with the New York Mets addressed that in the foreword (of the book)," he said. "Framing is a weakness. As a scout, I see that at all levels across the board, generally speaking. Even at that advanced, elite level, it's a struggle. It's all about winning pitches."

The last chapter deals with evaluations — from a scout's perspective as well as a college coach's perspective. "What we look for (in a catcher)," Humphrey explained.

Humphrey. who teaches fifth grade near Charlottesville, is starting his second season at Southern Virginia, a Division III school. He works almost exclusively with catchers, although his duties could expand.

"I'm pretty much responsible for the recruiting and development of catchers," he said. "This year we have two outstanding D-1 potential catchers coming in. It's a great opportunity to get to that level and to develop young men that really want to be there playing college baseball. It's been a joy."

Humphrey also works camps and clinics during the year, as well as offering private lessons.