By Frank Rizzo
MOUNTAINDALE September 4, 2001 Bert Bellcase, who pitched for the Catskill Cougars in 1996-97, returned to the home of the now-defunct independent minor league team.
He was at Baxter Stadium in Mountaindale on August 13-15 to help out a former Cougar teammate, Steve Pinto, run the Pro Prospects Baseball Camp.
It was one of six clinics that Pinto, of Rock Hill and a Monticello HS grad, has put on this summer at various venues around the county.
Ive been trying to get Bert up here for years, Pinto said of Bellcase, who makes his home in Mobile, Alabama.
Its a nice stadium, Bellcase said moments after the intrasquad scrimmage ended. Its a shame they had to fold up. They just cant seem to draw here.
What drew Bellcase to come back was the prospect of working with Pinto in shaping young hardballers.
Id like to get into coaching and I wanted to see how Steve does it, said Bellcase, who also hopes to teach after finishing his studies at the University of South Alabama.
Bellcase said his baseball playing days are over.
I honestly thought I should have hung it up after our championship season, he said, referring to the Cougars Northeast League title in 1996. What better way to end it?
Pinto said that about 150 youngsters participated at his camps this summer.
He capped things off with a three-day tournament August 20-22 at Collins Park in Mongaup Valley.
There was a waiting list to get on the teams, he noted. Each team played six games, and each kid got a uniform.
Pro Prospects is sponsoring several teams this fall. The softball team will play in the Collins Park Girls Fast Pitch Softball League.
On the baseball side, two teams will make Baxter their home for an eight-week schedule. The 16-and-under squad will play in the Mickey Mantle division of the Connie Mack League while the 18-and-under team will play in the Connie Mack circuit proper.