Instruction-Based League Teaches 150 Kids
Before starting his own Sandlot baseball league in Marshfield, Randy Montalvo was long involved in the sport.
He played baseball in high school, at the University of Hawaii, and semi-professionally with the Maui Stingrays in the Hawaii Winter League with teammates like Craig Counsell. Other major league players like Ichiro Suzuki, Preston Wilson and Todd Helton made their way to Hawaii as well. After graduation, Montalvo stayed active in baseball and coached various sports, including softball. He had a trial with the Brewers in the late 80s and played with Marshfield Chaparrals and Eau Claire Cavaliers before breaking his arm in a collision at first base.
His injury may have ended Montalvo’s playing career, but his coaching career was born. He was the head baseball coach at the high school level in Hawaii for eight years before moving to Wisconsin. Currently, he is a teacher and coach at Loyal High School.
After coaching in local programs, Montalvo felt he wanted to do more, especially during the summer. Other coaches were picking tournament teams, and he wanted to provide an opportunity for those who did not make these teams to learn and play, but mostly have fun. He decided to start Marshfield Sandlot Baseball in 2011, coaching with an emphasis on instruction and repetition.
“We had thirty something kids registered,” recalled Montalvo. “I started it as an instructional league. Even the games now that we play, we stop to instruct.” At that time, there were two age groups that would come in separately and play a pick-up baseball game on Sundays at Braem Park with no fixed teams or scoreboard.
Since then, the small baseball league has grown from its small beginnings to over 150 kids. Three age groups, 7-8, 9-10, and 11-12, play on certain evenings during the week at Montalvo’s home, where over the years he’s been able to install a baseball diamond complete with dugouts and two indoor batting cages. Like in the iconic movie Sandlot, there’s even a junkyard across the street.
Originally just a summer league, Montalvo has expanded instruction to the winter months as a way to prepare kids for the spring season. From January to March this winter, 130 players came for nine weeks, twice a week, to hone their skills.
“We make a lot of adjustments in the winter, and do a lot of repetition,” he said. “You have to get a head start here in Wisconsin.”
The 8-week summer session is aligned with whatever other leagues are doing in the community to give kids multiple opportunities to play during the week. At Sandlot, coaches are out in the field, advising the players on what to do during various situations. “We try to keep the pace going, but the instruction high,” said Montalvo. Players are able to apply the skills that they have learned during the winter.
Sponsors have helped build Sandlot from the beginning, and keep costs down. Any business interested in sponsoring can contact Montalvo. “We’re fortunate to have the sponsors that we have,” he said.
All funds go toward the league only. “I have never paid myself,” he said. “Whatever monies we get, we reinvest.”
Most recently, Montalvo was able to purchase a pitching machine that throws curve balls, extend his driveway for more parking for parents, and add a fence-line. “We are looking to put lights on the Sandlot Diamond and bleachers for people to sit and watch the game on a warm summer evening,” he said.
Parents are able to watch Sandlot games during the summer at 5:30 on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and can get a registration form by messaging Montalvo on the Sandlot Facebook page with their email address, or by calling (715) 207-8566. The cost is $65 for ages 7-8 and $85 for ages 9-12.