Dick Hormann and Scott Hormann focus on the fundamentals of Lutheran baseball
Dick Hormann played baseball in Japan, so naturally he wants his Lutheran Lions to approach the game like the samurai.
Dick, 86, is Lutheran’s assistant coach under his son, Scott Hormann. Dick is in his 57th year of training in four states, but before that he was a third baseman on an Army team from 1958 to 1962 at Camp Zama – a position just outside Tokyo.
Stationed there as part of the United States’ plan to restore relations with Japan after World War II, Dick’s Army team played minor league teams associated with Nippon Professional Baseball franchises as well than company teams. If he could, Dick would take his Lions back in time to that time in Japan, just to show them “the team we should be.”
“Today the kids come in and they see the fence and think it’s about kicking it over the wall,” Dick said. “But they have to understand the game – and the fact that so far we haven’t been beaten by other teams, we’ve been beaten by the game. Look at the Japanese, those are all fundamentals. That’s what I try to transmit to these children.
“I just want to play the game properly. If we lose playing correctly, it doesn’t matter. But if we don’t play the game well, it’s hard for me.
It’s not like the Lions are a recovery project. Scott took over the program last year, and the Lions outshot 23 of 29 opponents en route to a 26-3 record and a Class 3A semifinal appearance.
But Lutheran moved up to Class 4A this year and plays in the tough Pikes Peak League with Cheyenne Mountain, Lewis-Palmer, Air Academy, Discovery Canyon and Palmer Ridge. That means the No. 7 Lions (4-3-1 heading into the weekend) need to build up their discipline before the league game begins on April 11.
“My dad was pretty hot the other day when we hit 13 times in a game – telling them, ‘You don’t choke, you don’t hit the ball the other way, you don’t have two- hitting approach’ – so he’ll attack them if they don’t play well, and the players respect that,” Scott said. “That’s part of why the kids love him. He is honest with them. And we need it this season because most of the time last year we were up against 72-75 (mph). This year, nearly all opposing pitchers are 83 or older, with about 90 arms in there.
While Dick is still a master with the fungo, Scott, the former head coach of Heritage from 2009-2015, relishes the role his father is playing in his second chapter in Colorado high school baseball.
Scott has mellowed a bit from his days carrying referees to the Heritage games. He will always raise his voice against his guys for not shoving, playing sloppy or making mental mistakes. But whenever the fiercely competitive son feels too pissed off, he glances at his dad.
“I don’t know how long he’s going to be able to do this, so I’m here enjoying every moment with him and these kids,” Scott said. “My dad keeps me down. There are times when I will be really upset, and I watch and he drags them down, and it brings me back. He trains the same way all the time.
It’s not every day a walk through the ballpark between two hard-headed baseball minds, the oldest of whom is still getting used to his role as assistant coach after 55 years as the leader. But they can agree to disagree on the little things, as Scott points out that “the most important thing is that our vision is the same”.
For the Hormanns, that vision is a 4A program with the numbers, talent and approach of a 5A program. Lutheran recorded a record 85 tries for the kids this year, forcing the Lions to four teams instead of three. With the numbers growing, there’s no reason the Lions can’t be a perennial contender in the 4A State Tournament going forward.
“When I came here there was already a great base there, but what I wanted them to do was start thinking like a 5A school because that’s the level of talent that I think we we have,” Scott said. “And here we are: last year we played Broomfield in an exhibition game, both teams using all their pitchers, and we beat them 14-6. They win the 5A State Championship.
Senior right-hander Alex Chumrau (South Mountain Community College commitment), junior right-hander Asher Clark, junior right-hander Eli Morgan, senior shortstop Josh Miller and junior outfielder Drew McNear are the leaders for Lutheran this year.
The Lions are also awaiting the return of senior right-hander Brayden Stork, a Northeastern Junior College draftee who is battling tendonitis in his elbow but hopes to be back at some point this spring.
With this headliner, the Lions believe they have the firepower to win the program’s first state title. The Lutherans once had a 2A state championship game in 2013, losing 5-0 to Denver Christian. Maybe if they watch every game Samurai Japan played in the recent World Baseball Classic, like Dick did, they can narrow down the details and come back to the last game.
“Our first six games, every game, we had at least one set where we had mental breakdowns and physical breakdowns,” Scott said. “That’s what we have to clean up if we’re going to compete for a state title – those crooked sleeves. … That’s why we don’t talk (trash), we just play the game. We sprint on and off the court We want to play the game the right way; the rest will take care of itself.”