The Cubs vs. The Curse

The baby bears bested a goat and brought a championship to Chicago.
It was September 2016 and the Chicago Cubs were cruising toward a National League Central title with the best record in baseball and an insurmountable lead. The Cubbies looked like a sure bet for a pennant and World Series title. Yet their fans were panic stricken.
How could outstanding play lead to sleepless nights and cold sweats for Cubs fans? What was the cause of this windy-city woe? It was, quite simply, the curse.
The Curse at Work
To many fans, “the curse” was why the Cubs hadn’t won the World Series for the past 108 years. Despite coming close on occasion, they would ultimately fail. Consider the Steve Bartman incident — a Cubbie nightmare with its own Wikipedia page. Game 6 of the 2003 National League Championship Series was being contested in the Cub’s home ballpark, Wrigley Field. The Cubs led three games to two over the Florida Marlins and were ahead 3-0 in the 8th inning — just five outs away from a World Series appearance. Luis Castillo of the Marlins lofted a foul ball, Moisés Alou of the Cubs was in position to catch it, when Bartman, a Cub fan, reached out and deflected the ball. The Marlins scored eight runs, won the game, and on the following day, won game seven. For Cub fans, this was another example of the curse at work. And the evidence justified their suspicions, with similar examples of bad luck having dashed Cub hopes for a title in 1969 and 1984.
The Legacy of the Goat
The incident that allegedly caused the curse occurred in 1945. The Cubs were in the World Series, having bested a field of war-weakened teams. William Sianis, owner of Chicago’s Billy Goat Tavern (which would later be immortalized in the Saturday Night Live “Cheeseborger, Cheeseborger” skit) would bring his goat, named Murphy, to games at Wrigley Field. The story has it that during Game 4, Sianis and his goat were ejected from the ballpark, because his goat was stinking up the place. He sent a telegram to Cub owner Philip K. Wrigley that said the Cubs would never win the Series because his goat had been insulted. For the next 71 years, the Cubs, rather than the goat, stunk up the place.
No wonder Cub fans were wringing their hands come September 2016, but their lead held, and they clinched the division title with room to spare. But fan anxiety was far from over, as the curse hung like a pall. After winning the first two games of the DLCS division championship, they fell to the Giants in Game 3. And things went south quickly in Game 4, as the Cubs trailed 5-2 in the ninth inning. But somehow the little bears found their way home, winning 6 to 5 and going to the NLCS league championship against the Dodgers.
The Road to the Series
The NLCS turned bad in a hurry, and the Cubs had to come from behind again to win their ticket to the World Series, but win it they did. The World Series had come to Wrigley.
Some fans thought Cub management should invite a goat to the games to please the ghost of Murphy, but that was not to be, and after three games, the Cubbies were down to the Cleveland Indians, two games to one. In Game 4, the Indians clobbered the Cubs, leaving the hapless Chicagoans one game away from defeat, with the Series moving to Cleveland for the next two games. But Murphy must have been on hiatus, because the Cubs came through with two wins in Cleveland, and the Series returned to the friendly confines for Game 7. It couldn’t be easy of course, and the game went into extra innings, as Cub fans closed their eyes. But this time, the baby bruins were not to be denied, and at 11:47 pm on November 2, 2016, the curse of the goat was put to rest.
The fans, on the other hand, would not be put to rest, and thousands of them took to the streets of Wrigleyville, the neighborhood that is home to the Cubs. The party lasted ‘til dawn, and resumed two days later with 5 million fans pouring into the city for the victory parade. More than 100 years in the making, it was a victory celebration to top all victory celebrations, and it brought the city to a standstill.
You can credit the Series win to great pitching, the management of Joe Maddon and timely hitting. But some old-school Cub fans say Miriam Santiago was the difference. She carried holy water, a rosary and a lucky baseball with her throughout the playoffs. Finally, she brought a goat mask with dynamite in its mouth to Wrigley and let fans pose with it outside the ballpark while she prayed. The curse was broken.
-Home Run Hitter
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Batter Up!

Today’s baseball bats are the product of high technology and numerous new rules. Stop by Dunham’s today to find a bat that can send your average soaring…
Spring is a great time of the year. The air warms, flowers bloom, the umpire yells, “play ball,” and bat meets baseball with a resounding crack.
This year as ballplayers take to the diamond, many of them will be swinging some new lumber. Well, not lumber but aluminum alloy and composite bats that mimic the shape of the wooden bats major league players swing. Bats that have been carefully engineered for safe play at the various levels from Little League through ponies, high school, college and more.
Technology Steps Up to the Plate
It wasn’t long ago that baseball bats weren’t subject to a lot of engineering work or testing. A piece of hickory or ash was mounted in a lathe and carved to the right shape. Aluminum bats for amateur play were made from resilient alloys that generated a spring-like affect that could propel a ball at considerable velocity. That was all well and good for the batters, but ball speeds of over 100 mph put fielders and pitchers in harm’s way. To complicate things further, the performance advantage of aluminum bats made it impossible for major league scouts to accurately gauge the power of college-level hitters. Something had to be done, and a host of new rules were created by amateur baseball’s various governing bodies that restricted bat design at every level of organized play. The result was a safer game and statistics that were more meaningful.
While bat design restrictions achieved their primary purpose, they also prompted a wave of research and engineering efforts, as manufacturers sought to design bats that would perform better without violating the new rules. Among those companies that expended maximum effort was Easton, long a provider of bats and other equipment for every level of amateur baseball. For 2016, the company has taken things to the next level, and the new bats that Easton recently delivered to Dunham’s stores break new ground in performance, all well within the rules that govern bat design.
Before purchasing any bat, make sure you understand the requirements of the league in which you or your offspring competes. In general, high school and college competition requires bats that are BBCOR Certified, a specification that governs dimensions and, based on specifications and testing, the velocity at which the ball comes off the bat.
Among the most popular of the Easton bats is the Z-Core Torq® -3. Easton’s Torq technology is said to amplify power via a massive sweet spot and a rotating handle that frees the batter’s hands. Because the batter’s hands aren’t forced out of position when going for that inside pitch, better contact is possible and the one-piece aluminum bat stays on plane through contact.
The Z-Core -3 offers the same expanded sweet spot, but does not have the rotating handle. Try both bats at your Dunham’s store to see which feel you prefer.
Big Barrel, Senior League Bats
Big Barrel Senior League or Big League bats can be used in leagues that allow bats with barrels larger than 2 ¼ inches in diameter. Dunham’s stocks a full range of Senior League bats, including the Easton S3 -10 with a massive 2 ¾-inch barrel. It offers a stiff feel and a huge sweet spot. With its -10 length to weight ratio, it’s relatively light and well suited to a younger player who may not be able to handle a heavy bat.
The Easton S3 -10, with a 2 5/8-inch barrel is a great Senior League or Big League bat with the traditional stiff feel some players prefer. It’s a one-piece bat that offers a big sweet spot and durable construction. The Easton XL3 -8 is another 2 5/8-inch big-barrel bat, but it features an extra-long Hyperlite Matrix Alloy monster barrel that can generate massive power and a -8 length to weight ratio. The XL3 is also available with a -5 length to weight ratio, which means it’s a heavier bat well matched to a powerful hitter.
Other Options
Note that for Little League or Cal Ripken League play you must choose a bat with a barrel diameter of 2 ¼-inch or less. A composite bat has to be on the Approved for Play list, published by the leagues.
Little League Junior and Babe Ruth players have to use all-aluminum bats. Pony League players can swing any bat they choose as long as it has a barrel diameter of 2 5/8-inches or less. USSSA Travel League players are restricted to bats with the USSSA seal on the barrel.
That’s a lot to remember, but Dunham’s sales associates are well schooled in the various requirements and the latest bat technology. So check out the bat specifications published by your league, then stop by Dunham’s, where we’ll be happy to help you choose the perfect bat.
Let’s play ball!
-Home Run Hitter
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Good Glove, Great Game

Learning to catch a baseball can be difficult. Without good equipment, it may well be impossible.

Is there a six-year-old baseball fan out there who doesn’t dream of someday playing like a pro? I doubt it. For the youngest would-be athletes, now is the time to dream of what might be and relish it. Fantasy can be healthy; there will be plenty of time for a reality check in later years. Of course there’s no quicker way to extinguish early ambition than with early failure. And trying to learn the game while playing with inferior equipment is a certain obstacle to success.
There’s a general misconception among parents that good equipment is wasted on a neophyte ballplayer. “Heck, they might not even like the game,” says dad or mom. “Why not spend less and upgrade once they learn to play?”
The Catch 22 is that without good equipment, your offspring might never learn to play, depriving them — and you — of some good times ahead.
That First Glove
Dad bought my first baseball glove in early summer, 1955. Now dad was a kind and generous man who took good care of his family, but he knew absolutely nothing about American sports. Born and raised in Sweden, his interests ran more toward speed-skating and skiing. I had been asking for a glove for months because all the other kids had one, and they were playing this game called baseball in the alley behind our house.
Well, dad picked out a Globe Andy Pafko model. I thought that was pretty cool, since Pafko was a genuine major leaguer and a good one. I thought that with that glove, I could play like Andy, play like a pro. But in truth, the glove’s most memorable feature wasn’t Andy’s name on the front, it was the shape. It was flat as a pancake without a discernible pocket. It was puffy and thick, so it protected my hand when I stuck it out there in the path of the ball. But catching the ball was another matter. It required two hands and split-second timing. My gloved left hand would terminate the ball’s flight and my right would try to secure it against the glove. I rarely succeeded, and in Little League tryouts I failed to make the cut. (In those days, success wasn’t guaranteed to all. You had to make the grade. Cruel perhaps, but a good life lesson.) But life lesson or not, I was intimidated, and although I became a devoted fan of the game, I never again attempted to play in a league.
Playing with the Pros
Fortunately, good baseball equipment that is designed specifically for beginning Little League ballplayers is available at an affordable price, and the best equipment mimics the design attributes of top-of-the-line equipment. That means quality materials and construction features that are thoughtfully designed to improve your little one’s chances of succeeding at the plate and in the field.
There are many fine products available today, and Dunham’s offers a wide selection. Our sales consultants are well schooled in the needs of ballplayers at every level, and they can help you choose equipment that will improve your youngster’s game.
The Wilson A500 Glove
One of the best new products at Dunham’s this season is the Wilson A500 glove. New this year, the glove is crafted of 100% cowhide. It’s soft and game ready and can be broken in and ready to go within a day. Because it’s soft, it conforms to the player’s hand for optimum comfort and control. It’s modeled after Wilson’s celebrated A2000 pro-style glove — arguably the world’s most famous baseball glove — so you can be sure it offers premium design features. It also looks like an A2000, so your youngster will take pride in its appearance. An EZ Snap Closing System means junior won’t be fumbling with the glove when its time to take the field, and the EZ fit system with a flexible Velcro strap ensures that the glove can be customized to fit any size hand.
A Few Words from Ryan
Wilson ball glove developer, Ryan Smith, recommends breaking in the glove by playing catch. (That means with you, dad and mom. Break out your old mitt and pick up a ball.) Ryan doesn’t recommend steaming or microwaving the glove during break in. But he does suggest that placing a ball in the pocket when the glove isn’t in use can enhance the pocket shape. A weighted baseball works best for that purpose. With the ball placed in the pocket, slide a long tube sock or long sleeve shirt over the glove.
To preserve the glove’s leather and keep it soft and pliable, Ryan recommends glove conditioner. Formulated with lanolin and vitamin E, it prevents drying to keep the leather soft and pliable.
Baseball season is upon us. “Play ball!” echoes across the land, so it’s time to get your youngster out on the diamond with good equipment and a lot of encouragement from mom and dad.
-Home Run Hitter
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The Final Two of My 4 Most

[Written by Greg Kelser].
The final two of my 4Most
You may remember in discussing the four most influential sports stars of my youth, I began by highlighting the great Willie Mays who is considered by many as the best all-around baseball player to ever play the game.
Next I paid honor to basketball great Bill Russell who won 2 NCAA titles at the University of San Francisco, Olympic gold with the United States in 1956, and 11 NBA championships in 13 seasons with the Boston Celtics. There is little to debate when it comes to Bill Russell being considered as the the most prolific winner in team sports history.
Now for my final two…
I remember tuning in to watch a summer exhibition game on television in 1973 between the stars from the old American Basketball Association vs top players from the National Basketball Association. Since the ABA was considered the lesser of the two leagues I thought the NBA players would win in a blowout. The NBA did in fact win but it certainly was no blowout. It was a well contested game and when it was over I knew exactly who I wanted to pattern my game after.
Julius Erving played for the New York Nets of the ABA. Until that time in 1973 I, like most people had never heard of him. Early in the game he stood out because of his flashy dynamic afro that blew in the wind as he ran up and down the court. It did not take long for his dazzling and flamboyant style of play to become the most impressive part of the entire event.
Julius Erving, aka Dr. J did things on that basketball court that I had never seen before. His offensive moves, ball handling wizardry, and antelope-like strides set him apart from all the other players on either team. When he stole the basketball in the second half and dunked from the free throw line on a breakaway I’m sure everyone in that arena as well as those watching on TV knew they had seen something they’d never witnessed before. He proved to be totally unguardable and the sweet moves he displayed in that singular game served as his coming out party causing many people to wonder if he might be the best player in the game at that time.
I was totally in awe call the Doctor from that moment on. I tried my best to incorporate as many of his acrobatic attributes into my own game. I was in high school at that time and dunking was not allowed in games but because of Julius Erving and his influence I would dunk anyway and take the technical that ensued as a result. I wanted it all, the soaring dunks, the slick ball handling, and for a while I even sported the afro.
Dr. J would go on to play 3 more years in the ABA winning championships in 1974 and 1976. When the NBA and ABA merged after the 1976 season Julius joined the Philadelphia 76ers and now would be on full display for everyone who may have missed him in his days in the American Basketball Association.
Known for his style, grace, and class it didn’t take long before he became the most popular player in the league. He scored 30 points in his first NBA All Star Game and was named the Most Valuable Player from the East squad that lost the game. He then led the Sixers to the NBA Finals where they would eventually lose to the underdog Portland Trail Blazers in six games.
Julius would go on to lose two more times in the NBA Finals before capturing his only NBA championship with the Sixers in 1983. By the time he tasted the champagne of a NBA title he was 33 years old and while still performing at an all star level he was certainly entering the twilight of his career. This would explain why the basketball world was cheering for him to finally get his elusive NBA championship ring.
I met Dr J during my sophomore year at Michigan State. I was able to visit with him for a short while in the locker room after a game between the Detroit Pistons and the Philadelphia 76ers. He was very kind with his time and words of inspiration. Shortly after winning the 1979 NCAA Championship for MSU my teammate, Earvin “Magic” Johnson and I were invited to Philadelphia to spend a weekend at the home of Julius and his wife, Turquoise.
Our visit included a game against the San Antonio Spurs, cruising the town, dining with this dynamic couple, and relaxing at their stunning home. This as you might imagine was a dream come true for me. I mean, how often does a young athlete get the chance to be that up-close and personal with the superstar who provided such inspiration for the pursuit of his own dreams. I got a chance to experience that!
As a final note, there was never anything pleasant about trying to guard Julius once I became a NBA player. We played the same position so he was always my assignment and I knew that if I wasn’t ready to compete that the potential for embarrassment loomed large. People often ask who was the toughest of the small forwards when I played in the NBA. I will quickly mention Larry Bird, Bernard King, Adrian Dantley, and several others but the one at the top of list is the one I grew up admiring. The “Doctor. ”
Perhaps my favorite athlete of all is Muhammad Ali. Once again my parents were huge fans when he was known as Cassius Clay. The thing that struck me most about Muhammad Ali was his confidence in himself and his ability. He was never bashful about how much he thought of himself and that he truly believed that he was the greatest fighter of all time.
As a young boy I remember watching him in the mid sixties as he dominated the heavyweight division. He even had the audacity to accurately predict the rounds in which he would win his fights. I probably didn’t know much about boxing and its history at that time but whenever Ali would fight on television it was mesmerizing for my family and me.
I paid close attention in 1967 when Muhammad was stripped of his heavyweight title for refusing induction into the Armed Forces. I was living in Okinawa at the time as my father was stationed on the island while serving in the Air Force. I am certain that Ali’s stance was a hot button topic for all active and retired military personnel around the world and for long time opinion leaned heavily against him.
I remember my parents while military themselves, supporting his position and explaining to me how important it is for a man to stand by his beliefs even though the cost can be high.
For Muhammad Ali the cost was extremely high. He was banned from boxing for three and a half years because of his religious beliefs and his resistance to the Vietnam War. The three and a half years that he lost were right in the midst of his prime as a prize fighter. He lost his coveted heavyweight title and millions of dollars in lost wages. Additionally, he faced jail time after being convicted for refusing induction.
By the early 1970s the Vietnam War became less and less supported by Americans who now felt that far too many lives have been sacrificed needlessly in the South Pacific. Opinions of the former heavyweight champion began to reshape as well and in 1971 the Supreme Court voted unanimously to overturn his conviction and he was free to fight again.
In his first attempt at regaining his crown he lost in an epic 15 round battle against Joe Frazier in March of 1971. Another defeat at the hands of Ken Norton in 1973 had most people thinking Ali might never be champion again. When he signed to fight the new heavyweight champion George Foreman in 1974 few gave him even the slightest chance of surviving afterall, Foreman had destroyed Frazier and Norton in a total of four rounds combined.
Well as Ali promised, he shocked the world with an 8th round knockout of Big George in Kinshasa, Zaire to once again reign as heavy weight champion of the world. For me, it was a full circle moment. Vindication on a grand stage. By now I was in high school and I saw Muhammad’s triumph as more than just winning a title back. I saw it as a test of courage and how one’s beliefs in himself in the face of so many doubters is what’s most important.
It was also a tremendous demonstration of patience, trust, and acceptance. Ali have the courage to accept the fact that he could lose everything, yet he had the trust that if he stayed true to himself and his beliefs that things might work out. He certainly had the patience because it was 7 long years from the time he was stripped of his title until the time he regained it.
I met Muhammad Ali for the first time in August 1980. He was in Detroit to observe the welterweight championship bout between Thomas Hearns and Pipino Cuevas. A friend of mine who was covering that fight as a reporter was going to interview Ali at his hotel room and asked me if I would like to go. I jumped at the opportunity and on the ride downtown to the hotel I could not believe that this was really going to happen!!
When we walked into the room and I saw him sitting on a sofa and I could not believe it. I was 22 years old having just finished my rookie season in the NBA just a few months earlier. Still I felt like a kid staring at some superhero. He could not have been any nicer. We spent 30 minutes chatting though I admit I did most of the listening. He asked about my young career and I will never forget how gracious he was with his time and how he made me feel at ease in his presence.
For me and so many others, Muhammad Ali truly is “The Greatest.”
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NBA Rookie Transition Program

[Written by Greg Kelser].
Greg Kelser graduated from Michigan State University and along with Earvin “Magic” Johnson captained the Spartans to the 1979 NCAA basketball championship defeating Larry Bird and the Indiana State Sycamores. That same year Gregory was named both All-America 1st Team and Academic All-America 1st Team, the first in MSU’s basketball history. He would become the fourth player selected in the 1979 NBA draft by the Detroit Pistons and played six years. Gregory has served as a television broadcaster for the Pistons since 1988 and the Big Ten Conference since 1987.
I recently attended the NBA Rookie transition program which is designed to help all incoming rookies with the arduous transition from being a college or international basketball player to competing in the greatest league in the world.
This is a program that is mandatory for today’s young players but one that did not exist when I was embarking upon my first year in the NBA. I wish that it had been in place because the information that is shared during this four day seminar is invaluable not just to life in the league but life itself.
I must say that everything is covered. The pitfalls, the hurdles to get over, the challenges to succeed and survive, and most importantly, how to go about being a professional. The seminar addressed the importance of maintaining healthy diets and lifestyles. The athletes were given concepts to proper hygiene and grooming of one’s self. There was excellent instructions on how to dress for success and how to best represent your own individual brand through proper presentation.
The sessions also included great information on saving and investing money and ways to use your NBA careers as a springboard to even greater success after basketball. The four days included many demonstrations, interactive exercises, small group discussions, and real life testimonials from former NBA players both from a positive and not so positive perspective.
I was there to serve on a panel that dealt with image and life after basketball. I wanted to emphasize to the young athletes how it is so important to not wait until their careers are over to start thinking about the things that they would like to do later on. I shared with them how they can begin building those inroads to their second careers while playing and also how sometimes they will find many more open doors during their careers than if they were to wait until afterwards.
I found it very enlightening that the NBA also included as part of the seminar presentations from a few former athletes who had made incredible sums of money during their careers but somehow lost much of it through bad investments and poor choices. The stories shared and the honesty with which these players demonstrated while opening themselves in the effort to help others was revelational. It was not hard to see that the young athletes in attendance were riveted to these stories and I believe that many of them will remember these examples when faced with similar challenges in their careers.
This program has been in place for several years now with the idea that if you bring the young players in and isolate them from other distractions over a four day period that the chances of providing them with as much insight into what they are about to face perhaps increases their opportunity for success and longevity. Some of the rookies will go on to have great careers but history has shown us that the larger percentage may only spend a very short time in the NBA but whether their careers are long or short the information shared during the seminar transcends basketball because they will be able to take what they have learned and apply it to any career or future endeavor.
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The Shoe Fits!

Today’s Shoes Fit You and Your Game.
Quick, how far back would you say cleats date: 1923, 1874, 1600s or 1500s? The correct answer is 1500s, when King Henry VIII is said to have requested a pair of shoes with cleats so he could play soccer.
From the early days of players hammering metal studs to the bottom of their shoes for greater traction, soccer shoes and those for any sport that requires additional traction, have evolved immensely. Heck, today’s shoes are light years ahead of those worn only 30-40 years ago. In addition to being specifically designed for the sport, they are lightweight, supportive and feature a great deal of technology. Here are just a few offerings to make your spring sport or hobby pursuit more effective.
“For 2015, we’re really excited about our Leadoff line of baseball shoes. They feature full-length ArmourBound® midsole cushions that absorb shock and spread the force over the entire shoe,” said Under Armour’s Pat Baylor.
They also feature Rotational Traction technology for explosive acceleration and power and are available in mid- and low-ankle design.
For those who want to customize their shoe laces to match their team’s uniform colors, check out Under Armour’s Ignite line of baseball shoes. Each pair comes with five lace colors: black, red, royal, orange and pink. These shoes also feature ArmourBound midsole cushions and Rotational Traction technology.
For youngsters who want to release their inner superhero, Baylor recommends the company’s Deception rubber molded alter-ego (Batman) shoe, which features all of the previously mentioned technology, plus ClutchFit.
“Thanks to ClutchFit, these shoes mold to the wearer’s foot to fit the way that is most comfortable for the wearer. This technology also enhances durability,” Baylor added.
Very popular for girl high school softball players is Under Armour’s Spine Glyde cleat.
“With high schools in the Midwest allowing metal cleats for softball players, we’ve seen a lot of interest in our Spine Glyde for women. It features steel cleats in the heel and forefoot for ultimate traction. Additionally, the three-quarter-length ArmourBound® midsole delivers unrivaled cushion and comfort by distributing cleat pressure,” Baylor explained.
Spine Glyde also features abrasion-resistant toe piece for extra protection. As with the Ignite baseball shoes, five lace colors are included to match the player’s uniform.
When I was playing soccer, only a couple of brands offered shoes, so options were extremely limited. The manufacturers followed Henry Ford’s approach to colors, “You can have any color, as long as it’s black.”
A walk down the soccer shoes aisle at your local Dunham’s Sports tells you that’s not the case today. Shoes are brightly colored and much more comfortable than what I wore.
Take Under Armour’s Speed Force FG cleats, for example. They feature a lightweight performance synthetic upper to provide support and enhanced ball control and a TPU outsole with bladed heel for immediate ground penetration. The result is quick acceleration in any direction.
“Comfort, touch and feel are extremely important in a soccer shoe and these deliver just that,” Baylor said.
For runners, Under Armour recently introduced the Speedform® Gemini line in select markets.
“This is the first shoe built in a clothing factory and makes you want to run as soon as you slip it on,” Baylor said. “It features our new Charged Cushioning, which delivers multiple advantages at once: energy return, impact protection and adaptive support for every runner.”
Additional features of the Speedform Gemini include:
A seamless heel cup with foam collar for a locked-in, anatomical fit
Smooth, ultrasonic welded seaming with Bemis tape for next-to-skin support and comfort and
A perforated upper with ultrasonic seal for durable breathability
“Runners will truly appreciate the Charged Foam midsole. It’s cushioned and responsive. Most foams do one or the other. Charged Foam does both and does it better,” Baylor added.
To prepare for the various pastimes, many participants purchase training shoes.
“Because training typically involves more lateral movement than running, which is a more straightforward endeavor, our training shoes are designed to provide plenty of lateral support,” Baylor said.
He recommends having training shoes that are specific to the sport, whether you’re on the field, in the gym, on the court or on the road, as is the case with long-distance runners.
“We have our Strive training shoe that features breathable lightweight mesh with strategically placed, stitched leather overlays for durability. This design also locks down the ball of your foot for enhanced stability,” he added.
When soccer first took hold, players would wear their heavy, work boots – not the best choice when speed and touch are primary factors. Today, we recognize the importance of having shoes that are specifically designed for the sport and that deliver maximum comfort and support.
To ensure your shoes are ideally suited to you and your endeavor, stop by your local Dunham’s Sports and talk to one of the knowledgeable professionals.
-Home Run Hitter
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Covering Your Bases: Injury Protection and Prevention

One of the largest aspects of not only youth sports, but athletics on all levels, is player safety. However, it’s not only limited to keeping athletes safe on the field. It’s helping athletes recover while off of it.
With all of the attention given to the advancements of on-field equipment, especially in baseball, it’s easy to overlook the advancements of protective products. Thanks to EvoShield, players won’t only have a top-of-the-line bat and glove, they’ll have advanced, customized protective gear to maximize the use of their on-field tools.
“Safety has risen to the forefront of both players and parents’ minds with the recent focus on sports injuries,” said John Womack of EvoShield. “EvoShield’s mission is to keep all athletes in the game by providing protective gear that forms to the exact shape of the user, ensuring complete comfort, mobility, and flexibility all season long.”
But with safety comes performance. Players don’t want something big and bulky that’s going to affect how they perform. Luckily, EvoShield takes that into consideration when producing protective gear.
Gel-to-Shell™ technology was developed for this very reason. It’s able to form-fit to the athlete, giving them a custom protective product that forms their bodies. This leads to more streamlined, movement-enhancing gear that molds around the players’ style.
“EvoShield’s Gel-to-Shell™ technology is the only protective gear available that begins as a soft, gel form and transforms to a hard ‘shield’ after exposure to air,” said Womack. “This allows the shield to form to the contours of the athlete’s body as it hardens, creating a unique protective layer that disperses impact to protect better than traditional gear.”
As any athlete or parent knows, it’s impossible to avoid injuries completely. The disappointment that comes with being on the sidelines is what led EvoShield to develop Dispersion Technology in its Gel-to-Shell™ gear. This technology forces the impact energy to be dispersed rather than absorbed or deflected. The slim, form-fitting protection provided by the 1/4-inch-thick shields enable greater athletic movement while maintaining stronger safety.
Don’t think just because you or your child isn’t at the professional level that you can’t get the same kind of treatment or protection. With technology like Gel-to-Shell™, players of all ages can keep themselves in the game and limit time off due to injury. After all, to be the hero, you have to be on the field.
-Home Run Hitter
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The Sweet Science of Baseball

The Zepp Baseball Swing Sensor Has Revolutionized Baseball Training.
You’re in the batter’s box and the ball comes blazing toward you. In milliseconds, you have to decide if it’s in the strike zone. Analyzing the ball’s trajectory, you have to set your hands in motion and execute a swing at the correct angle of attack while achieving maximum bat speed. But you can’t think about it. You have to focus intently on that small white orb. Miss it completely and it’s a strike. Swing low and you pop it up. Swing high and you bounce it to an infielder.
Baseball is America’s game, and kids throughout the land dream of glory on the diamond. But success at even little league level doesn’t come easy. Mastering baseball skills requires countless hours of trial and error practice. But now the difficult task of developing a powerful, effective swing has been quantified and simplified thanks to a revolutionary training aid. It’s called the Zepp Baseball sensor, and it may be the most important advance in baseball training ever conceived. That lofty status is supported the names of the ballplayers who have worked with Zepp in developing the training platform. The current roster includes Mike Trout, David Ortiz, Hunter Pence, Jose Altuve, Giancarlo Stanton, Will Myers, George Springer, Anthony Rizzo, Josh Donaldson, and the world’s number one softball player, Jennie Finch.
The Zepp Analyzer
An innovative product of the digital age, the Zepp analyzer uses a smartphone or tablet app to analyze data generated by a sensor attached to the bat handle heel. The sensor, equipped with an accelerometer and gyroscope, generates 1000 points of data per second and transmits them to the app via Bluetooth, or the data can be stored for download later. The Zepp app, available for both Apple iOS and Android operating systems, provides a 3D image of the batter’s swing from a variety of angles. It charts bat speed throughout the swing, calculates hand speed, records bat speed at impact, and measures swing elapsed time from the beginning to impact. The app can also determine the angle at which the bat is swung relative to the ground, and the vertical angle of the bat at impact
Getting started with the sensor + free mobile app is simple. It attaches to the bat by a mount that fits over the heel, below the batter’s hands. With sensor attached, the player takes batting practice. The analyzer can also be used in a game. The app processes the data, generating video and 3D rendering of the batter’s swing and providing numbers for the values cited above.
So what can a ballplayer and his coach do with all that data? Practice, practice, practice. The Zepp website provides a wealth of training and practice information that utilizes the data to offer tips and prescribe drills designed to optimize a batter’s swing. Tim Walton, coach of the Florida Gators softball team has developed drills targeted at softball players. The baseball drills were developed by Major League hitting coach John Mallee, one of the most respected coaches in the major leagues.
Speaking of the major leagues, Zepp product manager for baseball, Trevor Stocking, said more than 22 major league teams are now using Zepp in one way or another. As mentioned above, Zepp has ten stellar ballplayers on its roster of advisors, all of whom rank among the game’s best hitters. They’ve worked with the device and have developed additional drills.
The Zepp Training Center
The drills and various tools to help analyze the data can be found in the Zepp Training Center and are accessed in the app and online at . For example, bat speed at impact is a critical swing component because increased barrel velocity will drive the ball harder and farther. The Zepp analyzer charts bat speed throughout the swing and at impact, telling you if you’re making full use of your power. Charts compare baseball and softball bat speed values to those achieved by pros and amateur players at various levels.
Other charts tell you how bat speed can vary depending on where contact occurs. Throwback, loose hands, and stepback drills, prescribed and described by coach Mallee, can help optimize bat speed and location at impact. Similar drills are provided for softball players.
Other charts prescribe tips and drills that can help ballplayers work on other swing components measured by the analyzer. For example, bat angle and swing angle are extremely critical. Swing low and you pop up. Swing high and ground out to an infielder. The Zepp analyzer can measure how much your swing angle and bat angle differ from ideal and recommend drills that will have you hitting line drives.
As of February Coach Mallee had developed 30 drills for baseball, and Coach Walton had developed 20 for softball hitters. Stocking said that he had just finished filming additional drills that will be added to the Zepp Training Center by the time this article appears. Analyze your swing, set goals, complete the drills, and watch your batting average soar.
Baseball is a science. Physicists, scholars and ballplayers have been studying it for more than a century, so the science of hitting successfully is well understood. Now, for the first time, that science can be applied by anyone, because a device that can quantify the mechanics of your swing and help you improve it is available at a truly affordable price. See it today at Dunham’s and play ball!
-Home Run Hitter
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Puddle Wonderful

The snow has melted, the grass is green, and it’s time to play.
It’s spring when the world is puddle-wonderful,” wrote poet ee cummings, heralding the season many love most. Almost everything about spring is wonderful: the greening of nature, the change from bitter cold to just right, the feeling that this is a time for new beginnings. The urge to break out the sporting gear and head out to the lakes, baseball diamonds, links and soccer fields.
If you don’t enjoy a sport, spring is a great time to take one up. If you’re a seasoned sportsman or sportswoman, it’s time to get up and go!
On the Links
I was a golf fanatic as a teenager, couldn’t wait to get out on the fairways come spring. And sometimes I didn’t wait. Back about half a century ago or so, a buddy and I headed out to a public course in Chicago in late March, only to find it was all mud and snow. The clubhouse was shuttered, but we tried to play a round. We made it through three holes before our feet were wet and our hands numb.
Getting out too early isn’t recommended, but you do want to be ready for opening day at your favorite course. If you’re just getting started and would like some helpful hints, golf instructor Nick Lico’s article, “Beginner Golfers Can Play Like the Pros,” can point you in the right direction. Nick’s tips can help you avoid the frustration that ill-prepared beginners can experience.
Seasoned golfers on the other hand, will want to brush up on the latest gear – equipment engineered to lower that handicap. Mr. Lico has the straight dope on what’s new for 2014. See “Advancements in Golf Technology = Better Scores.” You might be surprised to discover how much high science goes into producing low scores.
Batter Up!
Nothing says spring like the crack of a bat, and nobody knows baseball better than Dunham’s. In this issue, we sort through the needs of beginning players, helping moms and dads figure out what’s required for success in Tee Ball and Little League. It all starts with training aids and equipment geared to the needs of young players. You’ll find a review of what’s available in the article titled “Play Ball.”
If you’re an experienced ballplayer moving up to senior leagues, high school ball or NCAA competition, you’ll also want to move up to equipment that’s as good as your game. We talked to experts at Easton and Wilson as well as Dunham’s baseball consultants to put together a review of equipment engineered to help every player succeed in the upper levels of amateur baseball. It’s all in “Moving on Up.”
We’ve Been Kicking this Around
While baseball and football may be America’s most popular spectator sports, the game we all play is soccer. (Just to keep us confused, our friends in other countries call it football.)
But there’s really nothing confusing about soccer. The basics are simple: two goals, two teams, a ball, and no hands please. The last part is the hardest for youngsters to learn. If you watch mini-kid soccer games, you’ll hear the coaches shouting, “no hands! NO HANDS!”
Because it involves high-speed action, soccer is great exercise; with minimal risk of injury, it’s one of the safest sports for kids. And come spring, many kids, teens and adults can’t wait to get back out on the soccer field. Today, with indoor soccer growing in popularity, they don’t have to wait. “The Ins and Outs of Soccer“ takes a look at how the indoor game differs from outdoor soccer and reviews the equipment you or your child will need to take up the indoor game. Find all the soccer equipment you need at Dunham’s.
The Ice is Out, the Kayak is In
The ice has melted on our lakes and streams, and it’s time to get out the kayak. Or should we say the kayaks, because kayaking is an ideal family sport and many of us have several or more boats stashed in the garage, waiting for the first day of the season.
If you don’t have kayaks stashed in the garage, you should. Kayaking is easy with the right equipment, and it’s great exercise for the entire family. Our article, “Families Who Kayak Together Have More Fun,” offers some hints on choosing boats for one and all.
The Season Opener
Me, I’m going bass fishing on the first day of the season, which is the Saturday before Memorial Day on Michigan inland waters. I’ll probably take a baitcasting reel and rod and some crankbaits and see if I can get some love from a lunker largemouth on one of Michigan’s 10,000 lakes. If you’d like to try your hand at bass fishing, you’ll find some tips in the article titled “Tempting Mr. Bass.”
That’s a wrap for now, but don’t forget that Dunham’s has everything you need for every sporting season, along with the expert advice that can make your game more fun. Stop by your Dunham’s store today for everything you need to get in the game.
-Your Friends at Dunham’s
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Moving On Up

You’ve moved up through the ranks of amateur baseball and are looking for equipment that’s as good as your game. Dunham’s can help!
Remember your Tee Ball days? Everyone chose one of two or three bats that the coach provided – usually the one that looked the coolest – and a ball glove was just a ball glove. As you progressed into Little League, you became a bit more particular about the bat you swung and the glove you wielded. Now that you’re on your way to the higher levels of amateur baseball, those choices become more important every day. Without equipment that is well matched to your skill set and body type, you can’t reach your full potential.
In recent years high technology has reshaped the baseball bat and glove, while providing some excellent training aids. With new tight regulations dictating bat materials and dimensions, advanced design provides significant advantages. At the same time, as pro ballplayers have asked for changes in glove construction that can maximize their game, those designs have filtered down to the better amateur equipment. And simple training aids meant to simulate game conditions or improve coordination and concentration have proven a boon to players of every stripe. In the end, it’s all about optimizing your game, which will go a long way toward ensuring that as you move up through the ranks, baseball remains much more about fun than frustration.
Swing a Big Stick
It used to be simple to choose a bat. You stopped in at a store like Dunham’s, picked up a couple, and bought the one that you could swing with ease – the one that felt good in your hands. Today’s ballplayers have a lot more to consider when choosing a bat. For example, new rules prescribe certain materials and set limits on the velocity at which the ball can come off the bat. Your Dunham’s sales consultant can help you determine what type bats are legal for play in your league.
Little League and most other youth leagues specify bats of a certain dimension. Non-wood bats must have been tested to ensure that they don’t exceed a performance standard. Little League baseball allows only those composite bats that are on an approved list. Dunham’s sales consultants can help you choose a bat that’s legal for the league in which you play.
NCAA college baseball, high school baseball and most intermediate, junior and senior leagues allow only wood bats or aluminum alloy and composite bats that meet BBCOR standards. Again, bats for various levels must be sized according to strict specifications.
When bat standards were first introduced, they made shopping for a bat difficult. But now, several years after the regulations have became all but universal, every bat sold by Dunham’s is legal for its intended purpose. But while all Dunham’s bats meet prescribed standards, there are numerous things to consider when choosing a bat.
Ryan J. Weller, a strategic account manager for Easton, says, “Getting the right bat for each player goes a long way toward determining the amount of success that player will have and how much they will enjoy their season.”
The most important factors are length, barrel diameter and weight. In general, the stronger the ballplayer, the heavier the bat. The best way to determine if a bat is too light or too heavy is by swinging it. You shouldn’t have to struggle to move the bat rapidly through your strike zone, yet if it’s too light, it will feel as though you don’t have to exert much force to move it. In other words, swinging the bat should require effort but that effort shouldn’t be debilitating. Delivering maximum force is important, but you must be able to maintain good bat speed to hit a fastball.
Mr. Weller says that composite materials enable a lot of manufacturing design options, resulting in bats that can enhance the game of ballplayers at the highest levels of NCAA collegiate baseball as well as high school and intermediate league players. The new Easton Mako, for example, which is available at Dunham’s, utilizes a new composite technology, which allows for longer barrels and even lighter swing weights than previous Easton offerings.
Dunham’s also stocks Easton’s S2, an aluminum-alloy bat with a composite handle that’s joined to the barrel using Easton’s ConneXion technology. The alloy barrel expands the sweet spot and provides increased durability.
In addition to the Easton offerings, Dunham’s carries a wide range of Hillerich and Bradsby Louisville slugger wooden bats and DeMarini aluminum-alloy and composite bats.
Flashing Leather
While there are various things to consider when choosing a bat, selecting a ball glove requires just as much care. A glove that doesn’t fit correctly or is wrong for the player’s position is a huge disadvantage and can lead to the development of bad habits in the field. Dunham’s sales consultants have expert knowledge of baseball equipment and can help you select a glove. A number of factors are considered in arriving at an optimum choice, including level of competition, throwing hand and position played.
Youth league players who have advanced beyond the basic levels might choose a Wilson Softfit A800 model. These gloves are reasonably priced and engineered to not require break in. They come in various lengths and are tailored to the position played. For example, the Softfit A800 pitcher glove is available in 11.75-inch and 12-inch versions.
Players in advanced youth leagues or high school baseball will probably find that an A1K series glove is a good choice. Dave White, national accounts manager for Wilson says, “The A1K glove is built using the same patterns and construction techniques employed in making pro gloves but sizes them down just a bit for a more snug fit on fingers and wrists.” That fit enables better control in the field than would an overly large glove that flops around. The A1K gloves are offered as infielder, outfielder, catcher and pitcher models in a variety of lengths.
Taking it to the Top
While Dunham’s can provide the equipment you need to play at the top of your game, they also carry a variety of training aids from SKLZ, a leading manufacturer of baseball training equipment. Among them is the Quickster 5-foot sports net. With a strike-zone target outlined in the center, the Quickster provides a way for pitchers to practice their delivery almost anywhere. When a thrown pitch strikes the Quickster dead center, the net springs back and returns the ball. The Quickster is engineered for ballplayers on the go. It can be assembled in as little as 90 seconds while its TenstionTite poles provide a sturdy frame. When it’s time to move on, it can be packed into its carrying case.
SKLZ’s most popular product, the Hit-A-Way® is another great training aid. The concept is simple: a baseball is attached to cords that wrap around a pole. When the ball is batted, it winds its way around the pole and returns, providing another opportunity for the batter to practice his swing.
The Lightning Bolt Pro is an affordable pitching machine that allows hitters to perfect their game almost anywhere. The machine tosses small, lightweight balls that are difficult to hit and can make a regulation baseball look like a beach ball in comparison. The machine is particularly effective when used with the Quick Stick™ training bat. The narrow lightweight bat allows plenty of swings without fatiguing the batter, and its small diameter means full concentration is required to hit the small balls.
Bad bounces have led to many unearned runs and lost games. Now fielders can be ready for them by practicing with the SKLZ Reaction Ball™. Guaranteed to bounce every which way, this training ball improves reaction time and makes those impossible plays seem quite possible. How much fun is that?
The sun is shining, spring is in the air, and it’s time to play ball. Stop by your Dunham’s store today and get in the game.
-Home Run Hitter
*To receive exclusive Dunham’s coupons and information on new products, events and sales, enroll in our e-mail or text message programs (or both). Sign Up Now