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Conversations with College Coaches: Johns Hopkins University

Baseball Factory is privileged to work with programs from every level of college baseball. We strive to educate and guide our players when it comes to choosing the right school. The more information a player knows about a school, coach and program, the better. Recently, Woody Wingfield went one-on-one with Bob Babb the head coach at Johns Hopkins University. Hopkins finished first this past season in the Centennial Conference.

1. How long have you been coaching? How long at Johns Hopkins University?
I started coaching American Legion baseball when I was a junior in college. After graduating from Johns Hopkins University, I served as an Assistant Coach at my alma mater for two years. In 1980, I was named Head Baseball Coach at Hopkins and have served in that capacity ever since. The 2011 season is my 32nd as Head Coach!

2. Who are some of your mentors or coaches that you look up to?

My father was a high school baseball coach in Bloomsburg, PA and a very good baseball man. I grew up around his teams and practiced with them when I was still in Elementary School. He taught me the fundamentals of the game. I then played at JHU under Denny Cox who exposed me to lots of good baseball people (Walter Youse, George Bamberger, Terry Crowley). I consider myself an innovator and take the good ideas of many coaches and also use my own philosophies.

3. What is the first thing about your school and program that you’d want a recruit to know about?
At JHU, I expect our players to work very hard both academically and on their baseball skills and development. One cannot be successful at JHU without a tremendous work ethic. In addition, I have high expectations for how our players should behave and expect them to be very involved in the many community service projects which our baseball team undertakes.

4. What do you look for in a prospective recruit on the field? Off the field?
The first thing I look for in a recruit (assuming that he meets all our academic requirements) is obviously his talent level. We try to bring into our program Division I type players. I then look to see what that player's potential is. For example, how much better can he be in a few years after completing our conditioning programs?

5. Where do you try to see a lot of your recruits?

Many of my assistant coaches take part in showcases and prospect camps. I demand that every player who is seriously interested in joining our program must make and send me a video which depicts all his skills. I want to see that player at his best, and believe that a player will only send me his best in a video. If I do not see enough in the video, I will ask him to make another and tell him specifically what I need to see.

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6. Johns Hopkins is a very tough school academically, and yet the baseball program is consistently ranked in the Top 25. Can you give any insight on how the team is a perennial contender year-to-year?

Our team works very hard all year round to be in excellent shape and powerful. In addition, we have very good indoor facilities which enable our players to hit and pitch year round. Our goals every year are to win our conference, win the regionals and advance to the Division III World Series!

7. Given those tough academics, do you have any advice for a prospective baseball player looking to attend a school like JHU?
Players considering JHU should know that they need a great work-ethic! The combination of academics and baseball requires a huge time commitment, and a self discipline to complete all school work and baseball requirements.

8. Can you break down your fall practice schedule? What do you try to accomplish?
In the fall, we are allowed, by NCAA rule, 16 practice opportunities. After the first practice, our squad is broken into three different teams. These three teams will play a game schedule during the next 15 practice opportunities. We play three, four-inning games each day. Twice during the fall, we will re-arrange the teams so that all players have the chance to play with other players. At the conclusion of the fall, our hitters generally have between 40 and 50 plate opportunities, and our pitchers will have made at least five appearances. The players' performances and potential determine whether or not they will be kept on the roster.

9. Do you have a strength and conditioning coach?
We use an off-season program developed by one of my former players who now specializes in strength and conditioning. One of our assistant coaches oversees the program.

10. What do you think of the new BBCOR bats?
The new BBCOR bats have not been as big a factor as I originally anticipated them to be. Our players have adjusted to them well.

11. Is there anything you would like to add about your assistant coaches, recruits, parents, or program that we have not asked you about?
We have a true baseball family here at Johns Hopkins. Our parents are the most supportive of any that I've seen. They supply us with dugout baskets for every game, home and away, feed us between games at all DH's, and supply a post game meal at all weekend away games. Our alumni support is strong both in terms of helping financially and in coming to games. I'm lucky to have a large number of assistant coaches who work very hard to help our players and commit an enormous amount of time to the program. We expect to have a new state-of-the-art field for the 2013 season. The program is in really good shape here!

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