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... and other baseball tips


At one point back in 1962, when the first-year New York Mets were bumbling their way to the worst record in major league baseball history, manager Casey Stengel threw his hands in the air and cried, "Can't anyone here play this game?" It hasn't gotten quite that bad for the local nines yet, but considering the A's recent meltdowns vs. the Yankees, and the Giants' season-long struggles, both teams might be able to use some remedial baseball schooling. And the Cal Baseball Camp may be exactly what the baseball doctor ordered. Alas, the camp, which is run by the Bears coaching staff and players, is only for boys and girls ages seven to seventeen. It offers five separate weeks of baseball instruction for all levels of experience, held right on Evans Diamond, where big-leaguers-to-be such as Jeff Kent and current San Francisco pitcher Tyler Walker played ball. It's a great opportunity for any kid serious about learning the finer points of the game. And you can't beat the level of the coaching offered by Cal head coach David Esquer, the 2001 Pac-10 Coach of the Year, and his assistants, former pro pitcher Dan Hubbs and ex-A's infielder Ron Witmeyer.

"The Baseball School" camp (ages seven to twelve) is offered June 28 through July 1 and July 19-22. In that week, campers learn skill development and fundamentals including base running and hitting mechanics. The cost is $260. The "Games Camp" (July 5-8 and July 26-29) focuses on game play and situations. It's also for ages seven to twelve and costs $260. Finally, the "Advanced Camp" (July 12-15) is for older kids (ages thirteen to seventeen). Attendees receive advanced instruction on proper skills, mechanics, and techniques of the game. The fee for that camp is $285.

Kids, if you happen to attend these camps and find the hidden secret to beating the Bronx Bombers or how to avoid hitting into double plays -- a couple of local big league managers may want to hear from you. For more information, visit -- A. J. Hayes

SAT 5/29

En Garde!

Duel personalities

Ever wanted to get into a swordfight? Not a serious swordfight, mind you. A fun swordfight. Think it'd be cool to imitate Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean -- but without the limp wrist? Urban Diversion, an SF "social adventures club" (don't call it a singles club, please), is hosting an East Bay fencing class for beginners this Saturday afternoon (2:30) at 5221 Central Ave. in Richmond. An hour of basic fencing instruction with an "expert, patient instructor," using foil or epée, plus mask and outfit rental, costs $35 for nonmembers. Urban Diversion, started in 1999, boasts 25-35 events per month -- such as biking, skydiving, bungee jumping, grass volleyball, backpacking, and plain old picnics. To sign up or to learn more, visit -- Kelly Vance

TUE 6/1

Take It Outside

This space is not in the habit of praising staffers of other publications, but San Francisco Chronicle outdoors columnist Tom Stienstra is a joy to read. He is extremely knowledgeable about Northern California, an engaging writer for beginners as well as experts, and he looks the part. Dude is grizzled. Get up close and personal with the bearded one next Tuesday at 7 p.m., at REI Berkeley, 1338 San Pablo Ave. Stienstra will show slides and talk about hiking, camping, fishing, and general outdoorsiness in the Bay Area -- and plug his book, Tom Stienstra's Bay Area Recreation. It's free. (The event, not the book.) For more info: 510-527-4140. -- Kelly Vance

SUN 5/30

Come to the Point

The Berkeley Hiking Club heads for the windy Marin County seashore this Sunday. Hikers have two treks to choose from: an easy three-to-four-mile mini hike with leader Marianne Noland around Abbotts Lagoon at Point Reyes, followed by lunch on the beach; or an exploration of Point Reyes National Seashore, led by Don Woebcke along eight to nine miles of trails. The mini hike leaves Berkeley at 9 a.m. Call 510-540-5050 to reserve. For the longer hike, which departs at 8:30 a.m., phone 707-938-2157. Both hikes reconvene at Bear Valley Visitors' Center. Wear warm clothes. For further info, check -- Kelly Vance


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