Burn Baby Burn…..

There are some people who inherently can teach. They are few and far between, but when we encounter them we know. We see it in their countenance, in their communication and in their love of and passion for their chosen endeavor.

Two such men are these guys.


Mark Guthrie (L) and Craig Faulkner

Mark is a former major league pitcher who spent 15 years pitching for eight different teams. Included among them was my beloved Red Sox, although I think he would prefer to forget that stint. He pitched 15 games in the post season,  six of those came with the World Champion Minnesota Twins in 1991.

Guthrie Early Twins

Mark was 1-1 with a 1.35 ERA and three holds in the Twins 1991 post season.

Craig played for eight seasons in the minor leagues with the Orioles, Cardinals and Brewers. He led the New York Penn League in home runs in 1987 and the following year led the Orioles Hagerstown Suns in both home runs and RBI. Today he is the head coach of the 2012, 7A Florida State Champion Venice High School baseball team. I have written about his team a few times on this blog.

VHS 2012 State ChampsCraig Faulkner(R) led the Indians to State Championships in 2007 and 2012.

Mark and Craig have been lifelong friends. Meeting as kids, they played together in the Venice Little League, on the Venice High School team and then in college at LSU. In fact they, along with future big leaguers, Albert Belle, Jeff Reboulet and Jack Voigt were a part of the Tigers 1986 SEC Championship team under “Skip” Bertman, the team which changed the culture at LSU.

 Mark was 9-2 with the ’86’ Tigers.

Jack Voigt

Jack Voigt played with Guthrie and Faulkner in the Venice Little League and at Venice High. He played six seasons in the Big Leagues.

Albert “Joey” Belle hit .354 with 21 homers and 66 RBI in 1986 with LSU’s Tigers.

Two decades ago, Guthrie, Faulkner and Voigt founded the Holiday Baseball Clinic! Aimed at the little ones, it established a baseball teaching tradition in Venice Florida which Jack Voigt and Venice alum and former major leaguer Jon Knott continue to this very day.

SCAN0506 Left to right bottom, Pete Dombrowski, Guthrie, Faulkner, Voigt and Justin Tarro. In the back Rich Carroll, Jeff Balsar, Adam Pavkovich, Jeff Callan, Jon Knott, Blake Lynn and Josh Sinibaldi at the Holiday Baseball Clinic in 2000.

Growing families took Guthrie and Faulkner down  different baseball paths. For Craig it was his vision for the Venice High School baseball program. Using Bertman’s model at LSU he set to doing just that; there was a field to build and a community to serve and he began brick by brick and player by player to construct and teach a tradition of “excellence on and off the field.”

For Mark it was travel ball and two of his boys. And like all of us who love this game and want to pass the passion onto our kids, he became entrenched in the life that is Florida travel baseball. And when his playing career came to an end, his teaching career accelerated to another level as he formed the Gulf Coast Greyhounds who traveled the state playing baseball.

Guthrie and Faulkner were never far away from each other and as Mark’s boys grew, as they have a tendency to do, there was never a doubt in his mind that when young manhood beckoned he would hand his boys off to his former teammate, his friend to learn about baseball and life under his tutelage.

With his sons both playing at Venice High, Guthrie figured his days on the travel circuit were over, but then a funny thing happened. The boys wanted more; not just his boys but the boys whom he had coached and were now about Florida’s Gulf Coast playing on various high school teams. He turned to his friend and together they gave birth to the Florida Burn.    http://www.floridaburn.com/

 Goodrich led Spruce Creek to the 20012 Florida 8A State Championship.

Teaming up with Spruce Creek High School coach Johnny Goodrich, the Burn attracted kids from throughout the Gulf Coast and Central Florida and the program literally exploded. Last summer they had an 18 and under team, a 17 and under team, two 16 and under teams and a freshman team. With their goal to “get these kids to college, if they have the talent to play there” the Burn made an immediate impact, not only on baseball in the state of Florida but nationally and they now have younger teams as well.      http://www.floridaburn.com/

Thirty five of the ninety kids who donned the uniform of the Burn committed to colleges this past year. Of those, 25 will play at Division one schools. As for playing the game right, the sixteen and under team won two, catch that two, National Tournaments and those came against teams that were in fact a year older than the Burn’s boys. http://www.floridaburn.com/

There is a committment and focus required to baseball that indeed exposes character and when the teachers of this, the greatest of games is done by men who possess the character of the likes of Guthrie, Faulkner, Goodrich and the men they surround themselves with, than it’s the players who are the winners! And championships have little to do with it, those are simply the frosting.

The first weekend in December marked the first ever Florida Burn clinic. A total of 165 kids traveled to the Buck O’Neill complex in Sarasota Florida to showcase their skills for the two dozen college coaches and pro scouts who gathered.


Tampa Bay Rays coach Davey Martinez talks to the members of the Burn clinic about hitting.

In ever-increasing numbers college coaches have stated that there are only three places in Florida where they look for kids because they know they’re being taught the game and taught it right. “What is most gratifying about that” said Guthrie “is we’re one of them.”

And all this in one full year!

With all due respect to Mr. Guthrie, the best part about the Florida Burn is that the boys are not just being taught baseball but life……….the right way!


Burn Baby Burn!





About fenwaypark100

Hello and welcome, my name is Raymond Sinibaldi. An educator for more than two decades, a baseball fan for nearly 60 years, I have authored four books about baseball and her glorious history; with a fifth on the way in late spring of 2015; the first, The Babe in Red Stockings which was co-authored with Kerry Keene and David Hickey. It is a chronicle of Babe's days with the Red Sox. We also penned a screenplay about Babe's Red Sox days so if any of you are Hollywood inclined or would like to represent us in forwarding that effort feel free to contact me through my email. In 2012 we three amigos published Images of Fenway Park in honor of the 100th birthday of Fenway Park. That led to the creation of this blog. The following year, 2013 came my first solo venture, Spring Training in Bradenton and Sarasota. This is a pictorial history of spring training in those two Florida cities. The spring of 2014 brought forth the 1967 Red Sox, The Impossible Dream Season. The title speaks for itself and it also is a pictorial history. Many of the photos in this book were never published before. The spring of 2015 will bring 1975 Red Sox, American League Champions. Another pictorial effort, this will be about the Red Sox championship season of 1975 and the World Series that restored baseball in America. I was fortunate enough to consult with sculptor Franc Talarico on the “Jimmy Fund” statue of Ted Williams which stands outside both Fenway Park and Jet Blue Park Fenway South, in Fort Myers Florida. That story is contained in the near 300 posts which are contained herein. This blog has been dormant for awhile but 2015 will bring it back to life so jump on board, pass the word and feel free to contact me about anything you read or ideas you may have for a topic. Thanks for stopping by, poke around and enjoy. Autographed copies of all my books are available here, simply click on Raymond Sinibaldi and email me.
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