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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Mike Spiers trailblazed in travel ball: Baseball Profiles

Mike Spiers 1990 Salinas Spurs card

Mike Spiers started his work in college baseball and, briefly, in the pros. But he went on to make his name in another type of baseball, travel baseball.

His work in travel baseball grew so much that the American Baseball Coaches Association called Spiers "a trailblazer in travel baseball" when it posthumously award him its 2024 ABCA Travel & Youth Baseball Service Award. Spiers passed away in 2013.

"Beyond his success on the field, Spiers was widely-known for teaching not only baseball skills, but giving his players the tools to succeed in everyday life," the association wrote in its award announcement.

Spiers' work in baseball began in the 1980s, in college, where he played catcher. He then served as a coach at San Jose State University in 1987, then at San Mateo College in 1988 and 1989. 

For 1990, he signed on as a coach with independent Salinas, but his tenure proved brief. He was out by the end of April.

By 1992, Spiers started Amateur Baseball Development in Corona, Calif., described by the coaches association as one of the first travel teams.

The association credited Spiers with 14 national championships and with working with young players Nolan Arenado, Christian Yelich and Anthony Rizzo.

Spiers also worked as a scout for the Mariners, coached the Ecuador national team and ran his baseball academy, The Los Angeles Times wrote. His son Joe Spiers went on to play in the minors.

Spiers also scouted for the Braves and worked with the scouting organization Perfect Game. In 2008, he ran a showcase in Hawaii that resulted in four players getting junior college scholarship offers, West Hawaii Today wrote.

Hawaii youth coach Kaha Wong told West Hawaii Today, "We played two games, and he offered those kids scholarships. That's something that no coach in Hilo or anybody else has done for these kids except Mike Spiers from Perfect Game."

Upon his passing in 2013, Perfect Game's Andy Ford recalled Spiers as being closely involved with them, spending "just as much time helping Perfect Game as he did his own programs."

"He sent hundreds of players to college and professional baseball and many of the players he helped never donned an ABD uniform," Ford wrote. "Mike was never shy about sharing his opinion, and he did so intent on improving the game of baseball."

Mike Spiers 1990 Salinas Spurs card

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:4,350
Made the Majors:1,401-32.2%
Never Made Majors:2,949-67.8%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors:570
10+ Seasons in the Minors:352

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