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  • One of my truest friends passed away recently. There were over 500 people at his memorial service. It was a special memorial. Mike made a difference in a lot of lives. Baseball was his passion and ABD (Amateur Baseball Development) was his vision. I’m going to miss him.

    Growing up in MA and Mike growing up in Monterrey, CA. made our connection highly improbable. However, God knows all things.

    When I decided to go to college, HE knew I would need an encouraging friend ... somebody who understood baseball and the grind it would take. I was a twenty one year old FR. Little did I know there would be a 21 year old JR who would become my battery-mate, MY CATCHER, my friend. Mike and I instantly hit it off.

    I can remember like it was yesterday …. I had just pitched in one of my very first collegiate games, and it didn't go too well .... My coach pulled me (early in the game) because I couldn't finish the inning. I was so wild. I remember sitting by myself in the dugout after the game feeling like a complete failure. I was embarrassed, humiliated and felt hopeless.

    Mike must have seen me feeling sorry for myself because he came over and sat next to me and immediately began encouraging me .... This memory is SO VIVID --- He said: "Tim, this is just one game in your career; and you're going to pitch in 500 more games AFTER your COLLEGE years are over. He stressed 500 trying to get me to forget about that one bad day .... and that I had the ability to pitch beyond college.

    As I reflect ...... Mike was the one person who had the ability to calm me down and knew just how to build my confidence. He was ALSO the 1st person to tell me that someday ..... I would pitch in the Major Leagues. I was doubtful, but, somehow believed him.

    BTW ...... that 500 games he said I would pitch beyond college .... well, after pitching 13 years of professional baseball --- I looked it up the other day .... I pitched in 493 games between the Minors and ML with another 70 in Winter Ball and Taiwan.

    I don't think Mike would consider himself a prophet, but, he certainly knew a thing or two about baseball.

    I want to share with those who may not know ...... that MIKE was a gifted athlete and unbelievably talented player in his own right. He had a LASER for an arm .... could really crush the baseball when he hit lineas everywhere ..... shooting the gaps at will – he was a doubles machine. He also showed plenty of light tower power and had his share of homeruns for our team.

    To me .... What separated Mike from most CATCHERS was his unusual speed for the position he played. HE had a knack for stealing bases, from studying pitcher's deliveries. He was a true student of the game. He had a very good college career .... had good numbers, good stats and put together a solid 4 year career.

    Today, as a scout ... I would BOLDLY STATE .... in scouting terms .... he could have been a considered a 5-tool player. Too bad I wasn't scouting, he would have been DRAFTED by the club I worked for. In my opinion, Major League Baseball (scouts) ....... SWUNG AND MISSED ...... ON his talent .... but, God had bigger plans for Mike. He KNEW He wanted Mike to build ABD (Amateur Baseball Development) from the ground up, so after his playing days in college, God started to develop Mike towards that plan.

    During our college days together, some of my best memories were hanging out with Mike on Sundays … We would go to the grocery store, pick out the biggest steaks we could find ..... which HE would so affectionately refer to as "FLINTSTONE STEAKS" and come back to mine and Kelly's apt and he would make his famous potato salad, BBQ those FLINTSTONE STEAKS and talk baseball all day long.

    It wasn't long before he would introduce me to his unbelievable "Chile Verde". To this day …. I can’t make it like him. He was a tremendous cook and, Kelly and I used to love how he could make us laugh with that infectious laugh of his.

    When I was in my first full season in the California League in 1987, Mike was running a small "chuck wagon" in Salinas, CA ... my wife was pregnant with our second child, we were living on a minor league salary -- NOT GOOD! And, Mike wanted to help, so he hired her .... to work for him .... so that we could make some extra money .... he didn't need to .... he wanted too.

    Mike was always there. He made my first ML game when I played for the Angels in 1992 .... (ABD was in its infancy stages then .... But, he was so excited every time he spoke of it) .... And when I changed teams, he flew to Chicago to see me pitch there as well ..... He brought Joe (his son) or Jasmine (his daughter) with him when he could. Mike was always there throughout my career.

    Mike was a true friend. There were many times I needed a CONFIDENCE BOOST ... and I knew EXACTLY who to call .... He took so many of my late night phone calls .... and spent hours on BUILDING MY CONFIDENCE. He had that knack to get me to BELIEVE in MYSELF with just one conversation. He had a gift.

    Knowing Mike helped me develop into a better pitcher, better scout and a better man. Thank you Mike .... I will never forget you.

    Charles Spurgeon put it best when he said:

    "A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you and were helped by you will remember you when forget-me-nots have withered, rather, carve your name on hearts ... not on marble." ..... Mike you have carved your name on my heart.

    RIP my friend; "Until we meet again buddy .... I’ll know where to find ya ... at some baseball diamond in heaven”.

    Thank you for your friendship Mike, I miss you already,

    Tim and Kelly Fortugno
  • I started playing for ABD in the summer of 2003. The experiences being apart of this academy helped me improve my skills as a player and person. Before coming to ABD, I had minimal interest from schools outside of Alabama but once I started playing my recruitment as a player increased. The majority of this was due to the fact that Mike truly cared about his players and wanted them to have the best baseball experience possible. We used to joke that Mike spent more time on the phone than a telemarketer. He was relentless when it came to helping the young men in his program get to the college ranks. Of the guys who played with us all went on to play college baseball. He always said if you want to play there is a place for you, and I still firmly believe that.

    He was a great baseball mind who truly practiced what he preached. He will be missed by many but his legacy will hopefully live on forever!

    Fuller Smith, Assistant Coach at Ole Miss
  • From the FieldLevel blog...

    Coach Spiers was incredibly passionate at helping athletes reach their goals of playing college and professional baseball. Mike was committed to developing well rounded, high character young men both on and off the field. Mike was respected and loved by so many in the baseball community.

    Coach Spiers has coached some of the best talent in country, including Major Leaguers Allen Craig, Tyler Chatwood, Greg Dobbs, Tommy Hanson, Xavier Paul, Anthony Rizzo, and Josh Satin. During his career, Coach Spiers also sent hundreds of athletes to college to continue their playing careers and earn degrees.

    A true pioneer and visionary in the sport of baseball, Coach Spiers and ABD were the first club organization to join FieldLevel. Believing that connecting coaches in a private community would benefit both coaches and players, Coach Spiers was influential in the development of what FieldLevel is today.

    After helping build the “promoting system” within FieldLevel, Coach Spiers said:

    “We were able to place dozens of our athletes at schools all over the country. Twenty of them committed to schools from California to Iowa to Louisiana that we didn’t know would possibly be interested in our players [...] Before FieldLevel, it was impossible to respond to all phone calls and emails from coaches interested in our players. Now, we just click a button and get all of our players’ information into the hands of every college recruiter. FieldLevel is different because college recruiters take it seriously and trust it. It’s private for only coaches and athletes.

    Before FieldLevel, I constantly had my phone on me. I was always looking up my players’ information to send back to college coaches. Now it’s all in one place and can be sent so quickly and easily [...] I tell every coach to join FieldLevel because they are missing out.

    Mike will leave a lasting impact on our lives, the lives of the athletes he helped coach and their families, and the baseball world.
  • Stan Musial, Early Weaver, Mike lost three giants on different levels.

    -Les Lukach
  • Mike Spiers, the Passing of a Legend

    The untimely passing of amateur baseball legend Mike Spiers was immediately followed by a flood of poignant postings on social media pages that helped capture the impact he had on the lives of his players and their parents

    Coach Mike Spiers played baseball in college, was a major league scout and coached players at all levels from youth to international. He was also the founder of arguably the largest and most successful travel ball programs in the country.

    Mike Spiers was passionate about baseball. He worked tirelessly to create opportunities for players, regardless of whether they played in his program or not. He had the innate ability to recognize talent in young players and the skill to motivate them to ensure that they realized their full potential. No trophies for participation under Spiers. What the players got was an unvarnished assessment of their ability and future projectability and the constantly reinforced insistence that they live up to those expectations.

    Mike's Amateur Baseball Development (ABD), a year round travel baseball program in Southern California, was instrumental in providing players with a higher level of competition more conducive to preparation for college and professional baseball. There are currently 75 ABD alumni playing professional baseball including notables like Allan Craig, St Louis Cardinals; Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs and Xavier Paul, Cincinnati Reds. More than 75 ABD players have been selected to try out and represent the USA and there are hundreds of current and former college players.

    Mike's contribution to amateur baseball in Southern California was enormous and he will leave a gaping hole in our sport. But his legacy will endure through the structures he has put in place and the lives ha has changed.

    Spiers is survived by his son Joe, daughter, Jasmine, and brother Mitch.

    -Keith Lovegrove, Father of Kieran Lovegrove
  • "Mike Spiers you changed so many lives including my own. You gave the great lessons of being a ball player and even greater lessons of life. You took me in as a 16 year old kid and gave me the greatest opportunity I could ever have hoped for and I left with a new family. You will truly be missed by us all. Rest in Paradise."

    Nik Stephenson, Kansas City Royals.
  • "Mike Spiers was one of the founding fathers of travel baseball. Mike was one of Jayson's coaches and helped him tremendously with his college exposure and with USA Baseball. He helped hundreds of kids achieve pro carriers and college scholarships. The world lost a great man. May he Rest in Peace with his wife, Veronica. Thanks for everything, Mike."

    Father of Jayson Balades, Pepperdine University
  • A father to all of the baseball boys and has changed so many people lives and helped us all on our paths of baseball and life. You will be missed by everyone. We all love you Mike."

    Tanner Rahier, Cincinnati Reds
  • "One of the greatest coaches I ever had the privilege of playing under passed away tonight. The one who taught me how to man up, get out there and compete, and the one who gave me my shot before anyone else. If it wasn't for him I wouldn't be where I am. Thank you for everything Mike, not only from me, but from all the players you have influenced."

    Kieran Lovegrove, Cleveland Indians
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