Chris Kroll, a pastor at the Hartford Baptist Church in Hartford, Ala., plans to leave by car on Friday, and traveling with him will be 24 members of his church. Together the group will drive the 1,000-plus miles north, through the night, to Jamestown, hoping to arrive by Saturday afternoon.
That's about 20-straight hours of driving; not an easy task, to say the least.
But it's one that Kroll, and his parishioners, are more than happy to undertake, for by making the trip they'll not only be helping out a friend (Larry Sommers, a pastor at J412 Ministries in Jamestown), but they'll also have the opportunity to share with local youngsters their considerable knowledge on a pair of subjects for which they have much passion - baseball and theology.
From June 24 through 28, Sommers' J412 Ministries, along with Kroll and those 24 members of the Hartford Baptist Church, will hold the second annual free - yes, that's right, free - Baseball Camp and, for those uninterested in baseball, Bible Camp at Bergman Park, from 8:30 to 11 a.m.
The two camps will be held concurrently, but are separate. The baseball camp, which will lead participants through a number of hitting, pitching, fielding, throwing and baserunning drills, is for those (both boys and girls) ages 5 to 18 while the bible camp, according to Kroll, is akin to a vacation bible school, and is for children in kindergarten up to the sixth grade.
In addition to working out at Bergman, participants will also get a shot to play and practice at Diethrick Park (on June 27), home of the Pittsburgh Pirates' Class A affiliate Jamestown Jammers.
The idea for the camp came about some two years ago when Sommers was hard at work reestablishing his church, which is located on Martin Road.
"Mr. Sommers was part of our church when he lived in Alabama," Kroll said, "and we were looking for a way to help his new ministry (in Jamestown). We knew baseball was huge in the (area), so we decided to bring what we do well to the community - to teach the kids a sport that is very near to our hearts."
Leading the clinic will be a pair of high school coaches from Hartford, a college player and a standout high school player that made the Alabama all-state squad this past season.
And while last year's head instructor, Jarrod Wagner (who played under former Jamestown Expos pitching coach and manager Q.V. Lowe in college), isn't making the trip this time around - he's adopting a child - Kroll notes that this year's crop of tutors is still exceedingly strong.
"We have more ability coming this year than last," he said with a laugh.
The two head coaches are Clay Shearer and Mike Turner. Shearer, a former college player, is currently the head coach at Geneva County High School.
Also providing instruction, meanwhile, will be Eric Walding, who was a camp instructor last year and is currently playing baseball for Lurleen B. Wallace Community College, and Remington Fowler, a member of the Bulldogs that was an all-state selection.
All in all it's shaping up to be another successful event for all involved, and Kroll is hoping area ballplayers turn out in droves to take part.
"It went very well last year, and we're hoping to add even more (participants) this year," he said. "We'll accommodate as many that come."
For more information, contact Sommers at 499-9133.