Rogers family provides a pipeline to the pros

"Any time we can help a local kid, we do so," said Keith. "Greg Holle was originally going to play in the Cape Cod League, but he didn't get any playing time. So we invited him to come here, and soon after, he pitched in three games."

Keeping it local is a theme in the Rogers family. Most of the players in George's South Troy Dodgers organization are from the Capital District.

"We always felt that if we were able to get the top players in the Capital District, then we could compete with anybody in the nation," said George.

This year's elite 18s team is a prime example of George's philosophy. Most of the 20-man roster is from Section II schools including CBA's Chris Sand, Bethlehem's Mike Fish and Randy Bowers, Shen's Brian Cogswell and Guilderland's Steven Anderson. Four LaSalle players, two Amsterdam players and a player from Albany High School are also on the team heading to New Mexico.

"For the local players, we do everything we can for them," said George's son Kevin, who coaches the elite 18s. "If we have to start up another team, then we do that."

Starting teams is nothing new to George Rogers. Since he took over the program 37 years ago, George has expanded the number of teams offered from one to six.

George also was the one who decided to accept an invitation to join the Atlantic Coast Elite Baseball League when it formed in 1999, which launched the Dodgers into the national level.

"Once they offered us the chance to join the league, we jumped on it," said George.

Moving into the ACEBL proved to be the Dodgers' first stepping stone. The next came in 2000 when they finished second at their first-ever Connie Mack World Series appearance.

"After being runner-up in the country, that blew us up. People started contacting us asking to play for us," said Kevin.

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