07/15/2008 – The New Dominion.com
Story by Chris Graham firstname.lastname@example.org If you’re familiar with the name John Leonard, then you’re really in the Valley League Know. Leonard, 38, is All Things Valley League, literally. The Eastern Mennonite High School English and journalism teacher by trade turns into a daily sports blogger in the late spring and summer at allthingsvalleyleague.typepad.com – with reports on the hitters and pitchers of the day, updates on how former Valley League stars are doing in the minors and the bigs, feature stories on players and coaches and game reports and diaries from the press box. It’s a labor of love for Leonard, who isn’t paid for his work and doesn’t even accept advertising on his website. “I just really enjoy player development,” said Leonard, a 1993 Eastern Mennonite University grad who played baseball and basketball in college. Here’s how much he enjoys the development end of things – he has his own JUGS gun that he takes with him to the park to add the element of how hard pitchers are throwing to his game reports. The site is geared more toward baseball geeks like me than the average fan. Influenced by the Moneyball theories of Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane and Boston Red Sox GM Theo Epstein, Leonard reports the offensive statistics of everyday players with a standard line giving their batting average, on-base percentage and on-base percentage plus slugging. “You have to think that way. That’s where baseball is,” Leonard said. The hardcore fans seem to appreciate it, as do a growing number of league insiders, including media-relations director Kevin Warner, who made sure that Leonard is among those who receive All-Valley ballots, and Harrisonburg Turks co-owner Bob Wease, who said he reads All Things Valley League “every other day.” “Ninety-nine percent of what I hear back is very positive. Fans appreciate what I’m doing. And parents like being able to go to one place and see how their son might be doing,” Leonard said.