FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Emmitt Carney and other baseball people in Indiana thought the high school kids in their state were getting overlooked by college recruiters and pro scouts in the early 1990s, so they decided to do something about it. They formed the Indiana Bulls program to give Indiana kids a chance to play summer travel ball, tour the country and get the exposure they needed.
"The whole purpose was to showcase baseball players from central Indiana," said Carney. "During the draft and things, high school kids were being kind of skipped over."
Carney said the Bulls have sent players to Auburn, Texas, Texas A&M, Stanford, Kentucky, Notre Dame and other major college baseball programs through the years. Scott Rolen, a member of the Bulls' first team in 1992, is still playing in the major leagues with Toronto. Drew Storen, a Bulls graduate who played at Stanford, was taken in the first round of the 2009 draft by the Washington Nationals as the 10th pick overall this year.
The Indiana Bulls have eight teams this summer, ranging from 12U through 18U, and they have a team in the Premier Baseball Sophomore Championship in Arkansas this week.
Carney, 52, was the first head coach of the Bulls in 1992. Now it's 17 years later and he's helping as an assistant coach for Eric Riggs, who played for Carney and the Bulls in 1993-94-95 and later played in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization. The other assistant coach on the Bulls team that's playing here is Bert Ness, who played college baseball at Louisville and Indiana. Dan Held is the director of the entire organization.
"We have a lot of fun," said Carney, who has spent 23 years with the Department of Justice as a special agent.
Carney is convinced that baseball players from northern or cold-weather states can compete with players from the south, southwest and west, if given a chance. He said there's a school thought that if a player from the North is equal to a player from the South, that the player from the North might turn out to be a better prospect.
"If he's comparable to somebody in Florida and Texas right now, and he's only getting outside these few months because of bad weather, where's he going to be when you put him in that climate when he goes to Florida?," Carney mused. "If you see a kid from Florida, basically what you see is what you get.
"Usually when they recruit, if they have two guys who are comparable to each other, sometimes they'll take the kid from the bad-weather state because they know he's not out there hitting it and throwing it as much as the guy from the south," he maintained.
The Bulls draw players from all over Indiana. The coaching staff lives near Indianapolis, but there are players from Vincennes, about 2 1/2 hours from Indy, and from South Bend, which is about 3 hours away.
Carney said the Bulls organization tries to help players go to colleges all over the country, and not necessarily in Indiana.
"When we first started out, there were some coaches that were kind of upset, because they felt like we should be trying to push the kids to say Evansville or Indiana State or Indiana," said Carney. "What we told those guys, 'No, we're there to promote the kid and then let the kids go where they want to go and where they want to fit.'"