LOVES PARK, Ill. — Rockford RiverHawks Manager Rich Austin and hitting coach Pat O’Sullivan are hosting hitting and general baseball skills lessons at Wallbangers Academy in Loves Park throughout the off-season.
The lessons will run all the way into next May before the start of the 2012 Frontier League season.
Lessons are on a first-come, first-serve basis, so those interested in participating are asked to sign up as soon as possible to ensure a spot.
Austin played professional baseball for 10 seasons, including four with the RiverHawks. He was the Frontier League Player of the Year in 2004, when the RiverHawks won Rockford’s only pro baseball championship of the last half-century. Austin hit .359 to win the league batting title that year, and set single-season team records in home runs (15) and RBI (77) that still stand.
Austin also has experience playing internationally in Colombia, Mexico and Italy.
“This is my second year running hitting lessons at Wallbangers,” Austin said. “I love to see the progress in each student I work with, and am glad to have the opportunity to work with area kids once again.”
O’Sullivan played 12 seasons of professional baseball, and was teammates with Austin in Rockford last year. O’Sullivan amassed more than 1,200 career hits and finished last season 13th on the active minor-league home-run list, with 200. He was drafted by the New York Mets in 1999, and played in both the Mets and Baltimore Orioles organizations.
Like Austin, O’Sullivan also spent time playing in Mexico.
“I am looking forward to getting more involved in the community through my hitting lessons,” O’Sullivan said. “I hope to impart some knowledge from my many years of experience to local kids who will be the next generation of stateline region baseball players.”
For more details and to set up a lesson, contact Austin at (314) 625-4905 or O’Sullivan at (815) 988-5487.
The RiverHawks are members of the Frontier League, a 12-team independent professional baseball league that will play its 20th season in 2012. Season ticket information is available by calling (815) 885-2255. Fans can also visit www.rockfordriverhawks.com.
From the Feb. 8-14, 2012, issue