If Chris Corkum had his own baseball card, it would be packed with stats. The Broad Brook resident has been playing the game since he was a child. Dreams of being a baseball player encouraged him to get outside and play.
“I’ve been involved with baseball since I was about seven years old. I did the normal thing of playing Little League,” Chris shared.
His history with the sport is expansive. Little League was the kickoff that led to playing baseball for Enfield High School and Providence College. He played in the Western Mass Tri-County League for over three decades before retiring in 2009.
Chris has received awards such as the 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Western Mass Tri-County League and the 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Pioneer Valley Umpires Association. In 2008, he became the first player in the 71-year history of the Western Mass Tri-County league to amass 1000 hits.
Chris has also focused on a career in education, receiving a degree from Providence College in 1974. In 1977, Chris received a Masters Degree in Education and Recreation. He went on to teach Social Studies at East Windsor High School. In his education career, he has received awards such as the 2004 East Windsor High School Student Council Teacher of the Year award and the 2005 East Windsor Walmart Teacher of the Year award.
As if Chris wasn’t busy enough, he also works as an expert witness in baseball liability cases.
Okay, so maybe all of these accomplishments wouldn’t fit on a small baseball card. But there’s no doubt it would be a collectible.
While Chris has retired from playing baseball and teaching Social Studies, this doesn’t mean he has stopped interweaving his passion for the game and education. For 36 years, Chris Corkum has been the owner of Corkum’s Baseball, a business offering private lessons, camps and coaching clinics. Since 1984, Chris has enjoyed teaching local baseball players and coaches alike the skills that make for a fun game.
Now in his 60s, Chris spends his time taking all of the knowledge and skills he has developed in the sport and trains players ranging from children to adults in the All-American pastime.
But Chris has always kept busy. “I did three things full-time. I was a high school teacher, I played baseball every night and we ran our camp 363 days out of the year,” Chris explained.
As busy as running Corkum’s Baseball keeps Chris, he said he is thankful for his job every day. “I feel very fortunate that this is my work,” Chris shared.
Corkum’s Baseball summer camps run from June to August in towns including Granby, West Hartford, Haddam, South Windsor, Stafford, Tolland and Longmeadow. Each summer camp is one week long.
Mini-camps are two days long. This year, a mini-camp will take place on April 15 and 16 in Haddam/Killingworth and April 17 and 18 in Longmeadow. At the time of publishing, Chris said space was still available for the mini-camps, but he explained that space could fill up fast. “We usually have 65 players on average but last year, we got 95. We have to limit it for safety,” Chris said.
The private and semi-private lessons that Chris offers help players improve their hitting, throwing, pitching and fielding skills. Chris personally instructs these lessons.
During training, students can expect to practice skills such as fielding, throwing, hitting, pitching, catching, base running and game play. Students leave the program with developed sportsmanship skills and a broadened knowledge of gameplay.
Coaching clinics are available for team coaches to develop skills in subjects such as practice planning, coaching philosophy, throwing, pitching, hitting and defensive play. As Chris described of the coaching clinics, “Learning by actually doing is the best way to learn and improve skills for both children and adults. At the conclusion of a coach’s clinic, so many times coaches will express that they have not had so much fun playing baseball since they were a kid. It is that feeling we want the coaches taking back to their teams and practices.”
Chris explained that one of the goals of the coaching clinics are to help coaches better understand what it is like for a child to learn a baseball skill. “I want them to have the experience of what it’s like to be a kid and go through things for the first time,” Chris said.
While camps are exclusively for youth players, Chris encourages baseball players of all ages to sign up for private lessons. “Last year, my lessons ranged from 6 years old to 55 years old,” Chris explained.
The main goal of any baseball training conducted through Corkum’s Baseball is that players and coaches have a lot of fun doing it. “We want you to go for it. We want you to be carefree,” Chris said.
Chris is also involved in the Western Mass Fall Baseball League. Mark DiFranco of DiFranco Realty Inc. in East Longmeadow founded the league. Fall 2019 will mark its eleventh year. Chris chooses players from the students that come to the baseball training camp throughout the summer. The team is typically made up of players from Longmeadow, East Windsor, Somers and other surrounding towns. As Chris described, “It’s our favorite time of the year.”
No matter where Chris’s career takes him, it’s evident that his love for baseball will never change. In a message on the Corkum’s Baseball website, Chris explained, “Baseball is one of the greatest lifetime companions anyone could ask for. The season itself plays out like a long running serial or soap opera whether it is the team you’re playing on or the major league team you are following. You can collect cards, read box scores or take in games at various ballparks stretched across North America. Numerous fine authors write books on the intersection of baseball and history. But most of all, baseball helps form connections between people of different generations, continents as well as the kids down the street. For all these good things to happen, we have to remember, ‘It has to be fun!’”
For Chris, being able to combine a career in baseball with a passion for education is like hitting a homerun. Coupling his favorite sport with his passion for teaching, Chris said he is happy to make a difference in the community. “It’s like teaching school. You feel you have a hand in making the world better. You’re doing something that really matters.”
The 2019 Longmeadow April Vacation Baseball Mini-Camp will take place at the Greenwood Community Center Field. Players age 7 to 12 are encouraged to sign up. The cost is $75 for Longmeadow residents and $85 for non-residents. For more information on signing up or to learn more about Corkum’s Baseball’s training, please contact Chris Corkum at 860-623-1027 or via email at email@example.com