Learn Baseball From Some Of The Best

Former Diamond Dogs Steve Gendron and Matthew Maniscalco, two of the best players to play at Mississippi State during the past decade, are now teaching the next generation of youngsters how to play the game of baseball.

"After my first season in pro ball Matthew Maniscalco called me up to see what I was doing," said Steve Gendron, who was working out at home during the offseason. "He said to come on up to Oxford, Alabama and teach kids how to hit and, hopefully, make some money in the offseason (at Excel Baseball Academy). So, every year I was playing (pro ball) for six or seven months and teaching kids in Alabama how to play."

What started out as a part-time business for both Steve and Matthew turned into a full-time gig a couple of years later.

"Matthew and Kim got pregnant when he was in Triple A and he felt it was time for him to retire," said Steve, who made it up to Double A before retiring from pro ball. "Our other (business partner), Josh Beshears, also retired. Then I had a staph infection two years in a row, Mrsa (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and decided to retire. With all of us through with pro ball we decided to make (our business) a full-time business. And the business is going well."

Their business consists of teaching all aspects of the game of baseball.

"We do individual hitting and pitching lessons with strength training as well," said Steve. "Matthew and I are the hitting coaches. I'm also the strength coach. And Josh is the pitching coach.

"We pull (customers) from the Oxford area, Birmingham, the Jacksonville area (Jacksonville State), Huntsville area, and we actually have had a couple of kids from Atlanta."

Due to the rise in business, they are moving into a building twice the size of their current building.

"We are going to be in our brand new building within the next five months," said Steve. "Right now, our building is about 4,500 square feet and our new building is going to be about 10,000 square feet. It's going to have four free-standing batting cages, a free-standing weight room, a parents' lounge, a video review area. It's going to be first class."

Not only are they doing individual instruction but they have formed several fall and summer teams called the Excel Blue Wave.

"We have three fall teams, 13, 14 and 15-year-olds, and two summer teams, 17, 18-year-olds that I coach and 15, 16-year-olds that Matthew coaches," said Steve.

And like their building they plan on expanding the number of teams.

"This coming year we are going to have four fall teams (instead of three) and the two summer teams again," said Steve.

The success of their teams have garnered attention for their players in a big way.

"Last year off our summer team we had three guys who are coming to Mississippi State - Chad Girodo, C.C. Watson and Sam Frost, an academic kid - and two pitchers that are going to Alabama - Adam Windsor and Trey Pilkington," said Steve. "We also have a few guys who are going to juco. I think out of our 14-man roster last year we had 11 guys who signed (with colleges)."

And that trend continues with this year's team.

"We already have two guys who have committed - one with Bama, Cary Baxter, and one with Troy, Clay Holcomb," said Steve. "And I know that Mississippi State is looking at our catcher, Tyler Mims from Hoover. We also have several other guys who are very talented."

To find out more about Excel Baseball Academy or the Excel Blue Wave teams, you can contact Steve or Josh at their email addresses - gendrste@gmail.com or jfbeshears@gmail.com.

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.

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