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Pitch.jpg (7078 bytes)We began Baseball Excellence in 1998 with the goal of better educating youth players, parents and coaches about the true fundamentals of the game.

Catch.jpg (6706 bytes)In the (Professional) Minor Leagues winning is important but secondary to "player development". We believe that youth leagues should be approached the same way; development over winning. At Baseball Excellence we seek to instruct not only the fundamentals of the game but the "how’s and why’s" of learning to perform them correctly.

Derek Lilliquist

attended Sarasota High School in Sarasota, Florida. He pitched for 3 years at the University of Georgia and pitched in the College World Series his junior year. He also hit 20 home runs that year. He was drafted #1 (6th pick overall) by the Atlanta Braves and pitched professionally for 10 years. He feels the game has given him so much he wants to give something back and that was the motivation for Baseball Excellence. He has been the Pitching Coach at Vero Beach High School and is currently the St Louis Cardinals Bullpen Coach. Derek is a family man with two children.

"Coach" Jack Grant

played baseball at Florida State and has coached for over 30 years. The majority of his players who began and remained with his program the last 10 years have gone on to play in college or professional baseball. Clinton Johnston was drafted #1 by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1998 and Jack has coached several players who went on to become college All-Americans. "Coach Grant is simply one of the finest amateur baseball coaches in Florida." In addition Coach Grant has worked as a Professional Scout.

Bob Byrd

has coached amateur baseball for over 18 years and is one of the founders of Baseball Excellence. Bob says, "I believe a coach has a responsibility to do his best to teach the game. In fact, the permanence of the game of baseball relies on its good coaches. A coach should become a teacher and a student of the game. He should place a great deal of importance on continuing education. His role should be one of instruction and development. Bob has a 22 year-old son Stephen, a college pitcher.

Tim Hopkins

Our newest associate, Tim (THop) has studied and coached the finer points of the game for over 20 years (10 years at the 60/90’ level). He is a true baseball fundamentalist and shares our passion for helping youth parents and coaches better prepare their players for high school baseball and beyond. He is a major contributor to our discussion board and runs our High School Prep Instructional League in Atlanta each fall. Both of Tim’s sons play(ed) college baseball.

Jim Thompson

has been umpiring in Florida since 1953. He has umpired Little League, Babe Ruth League, high school, American Legion, college, semi-pro and professional baseball.

He works spring training games for the Los Angeles Dodgers and is a substitute umpire in the Florida State and Gulf Coast Leagues (Class A professional).

He has umpired 2 Olympic Festivals (1987& 1989) and has umpired 11 Florida high school Florida Finals.

Jim served on the National Federation Baseball Rules Committee for 6 years and has been inducted into the Florida High School Hall of Fame and the National High School Hall of Fame.

He quietly resides on our Ask the Umpire discussion board and quickly springs to action when any umpiring question is asked.

Tim Kafer

Tim Kafer has coached over 25 years of youth baseball. He has worked with players at the college level, High School and youth players. Tim invented the ThrowMAX to help players throw properly and to help them to avoid arm injury and to keep them in the game. Too many players quit baseball because they can not throw.

Coach Grant told me of the times when he and his dad went to a new town to play or watch a baseball game. To find the diamond they always looked for the light poles around the field. He described a feeling of electric anticipation, a thrill, every time.

After all the years and hundreds of baseball diamonds, after more than 25 years of coaching and working as a professional scout, he still gets the thrill of seeing the light poles as he drives up to a baseball field.

All of us have that passion for the game and it is that passion we hope to convey to you through these pages.


Coaches, players, dads we are here to support and befriend you. We have sons who play baseball and we understand what goes on in a baseball family. We know what it takes to be successful. Join in the discussion group on our Web Site and ask any baseball questions you like. Get our Free Tips of the Week by Email (we have a lot of dads and coaches who are making a booklet out of the Tips of the Week.) Call us at 425-591-7612 if you have a baseball question. "Baseball is life-all the rest is details."

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PO Box 1477 ~ Bellevue, WA 98009-1477 ~ Phone: (425) 591-7612

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