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Tech-savvy baseball coach hits big time with array of apps

By Sam Wigness, 09/07/17, 2:45PM CDT

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Bay Area's Carl Rendell combines his tech skills and coaching background to develop array of time-saving applications

With the same determination and tech skills that brought brontosauruses to the big screen in 1993’s Jurassic Park, Big Time Coach co-founder Carl Rendell is changing the way Little League players are evaluated, coached and kept safe.

Rendell, 56, is equal parts tech-guru and baseball fanatic with decades of experience in both fields. He has been coaching various baseball teams since he was 19, but it wasn’t until he moved to Benicia, California, in 2009 and coached his son Carson’s Little League team that he began implementing his tech-savviness into baseball.


Carl Rendell and his son, Carson, back 12 years ago when Carson was a 5-year-old newcomer to baseball.


What began as a tool to optimize his practices grew into Rendell’s second start-from-scratch technology business, one which offers six applications to help baseball coaches organize tryouts, plan practices, track pitch counts and report injuries.

Long before he co-founded Big Time Coach, Rendell was a Little Leaguer in Fremont, California, a baseball-centric community that produced Hall of Fame pitcher Dennis Eckersley. As a seven-year-old, Rendell learned to score baseball games and has scored every game he’s watched as a coach, player or spectator. As a high schooler, Rendell hardly grew larger than five feet or 100 pounds and never made Washington High School’s varsity baseball team, but he played pick-up games and American Legion until he was 19.

“I was really fast,” Rendell said. “Whatever hit I had I always stopped at first because I wanted to steal two bases. I was usually a lead-off hitter, and I learned how to switch hit and drag bunt. I was a big fan of Ricky Henderson and Lou Brock. I always liked the science behind stealing bases.”

In 1979 Rendell began his coaching career after a Washington High School varsity coach suggested the 19-year-old coach a local youth baseball team. Around the same time Rendell began working on a history major at San Jose State University. Although he never finished college, Rendell was introduced to computer programming using punch cards which evolved into a career in the technology sector.

Rendell’s first tech job was with Teledyne MEC programming high power Traveling Wave Tubes used on military ships and planes as radar jammers. In 1987, he hopped on with Silicon Graphics, Inc., a software company that provided the equipment used to animate the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park – the first major motion picture to use computer-generated images. Rendell quickly made himself valuable at SGI by learning how to use the company’s cutting edge technology.

Facts

Name: Carl Rendell  |  Age: 56

Resides in: Benicia, California

Occupation: Process and Information Technology Consultant, Sports App Developer

Family: Wife, Joanne; children Elyse and Carson

Interests: Coaching, volunteering, paddle boarding, cycling, surfing and skateboarding

 

Quickie Bio

Rendell grew up in Fremont, California, where his mother, a grade school grammar teacher, passed on her love of baseball and teaching. Rendell also credits his drive and spirit of volunteering to being a "Kennedy Kid." At Fremont High School, Rendell was too small to make the varsity baseball team but played American Legion and pick-up baseball instead. After high school, Rendell began coaching local youth baseball teams and attended San Jose State University for a year. In 1979 he was hired at Teledyne MEC where he worked on the supply chain until 1987 when he continued his technology career at Silicon Graphics Inc. At SGI Rendell became well-versed in software programming and strategy and positioned himself to become a consultant. In 2000, he founded Solution43, a technology consulting firm that he continues to operate. After moving to Benicia, California, in 2009 Rendell began coaching and volunteering at Benicia Little League. He developed apps to make his practices and clinics more efficient, which later turned into Big Time Coach, a software company that offers six apps for baseball coaches.


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“The company president at the time was into Apple computers so we got the first Macs,” Rendell said. “I finally got into the IT side because I always wanted to get my own information, and I bugged the IT guys enough that they just showed me how to write my own reports. I got more and more sophisticated and didn’t have to wait for the IT guys anymore, and I got a leg up in the company.”

At the turn of the century, after helping SGI prepare for the Y2K meltdown, Rendell founded Solution43 Consulting LLC which focuses primarily on helping startup companies with various software needs.

“The whole idea with Solution43 is that when people have a problem they jump to the first solution,” Rendell said. “Our idea is that it could be the forty third solution.”

In 2009, Rendell brought that same mindset to Benicia Little League. He started by coaching his 9-year-old son’s team and within a few years, employing both his baseball and programming prowess, had his fingerprints all over the league. Rendell saw untapped potential in the league’s players and in his first year set up Friday evening clinics, which attracted 10 to 25 players each week. He also spent time one-on-one with players who needed extra practice.

“There’s coaches that coach their sons and son’s friends, coaches that coach to the six best on the team and then there are a few coaches that coach the entire team and focus on ways to get every player’s skills up,” Rendell said. “I always tried to have a project player on every team. Whether he hasn’t played so much or his skills are up so high, we always tried to focus on one player to get him up to speed. That meant extra practices and pullouts during regular practices.”

David Scime coached with and against Rendell for several years in travelling, all-stars and little league games. An East Coast native, Scime focused on scoring runs first and playing defense later while Rendell was focused on the little things – all of them.

“He sees more of the science and numbers of the game than I do, and he’s able to get more out of these kids using those things,” Scime said. “I am the dinosaur, and I’m on my way out – and I’m younger than him. He has excelled because he’s much more adept and willing to use the numbers. He even had stats on the parents – whether they were easy to get along with or not.”

Scime said coaching against Rendell was the toughest challenge in Benicia Little League and he always worked a little harder leading up to their matchups. When they coached together, however, their opposing styles combined beautifully.

“The second year we worked together our winning percentage was so high it was embarrassing, and we were 10-running almost every team,” Scime said. “After we won the league we made a deep run in state, and he gave me the banners and let me hang them in my garage.”

We like to say we help the players one coach at a time."
                                                                          - Carl Rendell

Scime’s son, David, benefitted greatly from Rendell’s guidance. With his naked eye, Rendell noticed a hitch in David’s swing that caused his bat head to leave the strike zone too early, leading to fly balls and strikeouts. Rendell checked his suspicion using an app and, sure enough, he was correct.

“David started driving the ball to all fields and raised his batting average significantly,” Scime said.

Rendell marked his progress as a coach by the success of the Benicia Little League all-star team and traveling teams made up of his former players. After three years the teams showed marked success, but Rendell felt he could do more by fulfilling various roles on the league’s board, including webmaster and registrar.

Rendell spent countless hours editing HTML code to update a clunky website created by a previous independent contractor. Scime said he often caught Rendell doing things nobody had asked him to do, like cleaning up batting cages and spending his own money to maintain league equipment.

“I would show up an hour early for games and he would already have been there for an hour,” Scime said. “And then he would stay an hour after I left to work on the field. I learned early on that I could really benefit by watching him.”

While Rendell kept the league running smoothly with his painstaking attention to detail, he approached player development on a much greater scale. Through coaching and running clinics Rendell could influence dozens of players each season, but through his Big Time Coach apps he could reach dozens of coaches and, in turn, hundreds of players each season.

“We like to say we help the players one coach at a time,” Rendell said. “Each coach that uses our apps can help 12 players that much more. Then we can track when each player is ready to pitch effectively or play different positions and explain to the parents why their kids are playing where they are.”

Big Time Coach offers six baseball apps – Practice Planner, Game Planner, Pitch Counter, Injury Report, Baseball Tryout and League Draft – and a Soccer Planner. Benicia coach Scott Wheeler started using the tryout and draft apps as soon as they were released in 2013. Wheeler said the using the apps saves him nearly 30 hours each season.

“What it allows you to do is be done with the tryout once it’s done,” Wheeler said. “You put your grade for each player, and once you make your marks it’s over with. Then you just show up to the draft and you can sort the players right at the table.”

Before using Tryout, Wheeler would take handwritten notes and spend hours putting them into a spreadsheet only to sort and re-sort them for draft day. Although Wheeler never coached with or against Rendell, he, like many others, used Rendell as a mentor.

“One thing he always did was volunteer his time to anyone who wanted to improve their coaching ability and draft strategy,” Wheeler said. “How to run tryouts or clinics – whether you’re using his apps and templates or not – that’s the kind of guy he was. He just always had time to help out.”


Carl Rendell has been combining his tech savviness and baseball coaching background since moving to Benicia, California, in 2009.

After nearly a decade of service, Rendell’s impact on Benicia Little League has rippled upward to Benicia High School.

“Last year, at least eighty-five percent of the freshman, sophomore and JV teams were made up of players that Carl and I coached,” Scime said. “Not one of our players tried out and didn’t make one of those teams.”

In 2016, after years of research and deliberation, Rendell relinquished his website programming duties to SportsEngine and helped design and integrate the new platform for the Benicia Little League website. He published a 2,430 word letter with eight sub-headlines representing the areas the SportsEngine platform would improve upon the old one. Among other things, the letter revealed how thoroughly Rendell had researched his decision.

SportsEngine senior sales representative Mikey Spencer said his average call lasts between 15 and 20 minutes, but a session with Rendell consistently goes well over a half hour.

“Coming from a guy as detail oriented as Carl, it was imperative that we had in-depth conversations so he could figure out how to use the sites and mold his personality into it,” Spencer said. “He was always looking at ways to help our salespeople and our platform to improve. One of the best things he said to me was to stop selling websites and start selling solutions, and I think he’s right. That’s how we can continue to grow.”

The SportsEngine platform erased hours of webmaster duties from Rendell’s workload, which allowed him to more closely track his son’s varsity baseball career. After watching, and scoring, Benicia High School games all season, Rendell was able to accurately predict the dramatic finish to a section final game.

“Benicia was down two runs in the final inning and the other team put in a pitcher we had already faced twice that season,” Rendell recalled. “We were at the top of our order and the first four batters had hit this guy really well, so sure enough we come back to tie the game with two outs. Our fifth batter had a history of walk-off hits, and even with a lefty-on-lefty matchup he hit a walk-off single.

“I had been sitting in the middle of the crowd telling parents on both sides exactly what was going to happen because I had scored the previous games.”

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