Santa Clara native Jim Greco has always eaten, breathed and slept baseball. While that may be a cliche, even now, the 42-year-old baseball lifer still gets to eat, breathe and sleep baseball. He is the founder and manager of the Living Legends travel ball program.
Greco works full time in baseball between coaching at Homestead High School and running Living Legends out of Santa Clara, which he founded just three years ago in 2015. Back then the program featured only three teams, but it has already quadrupled in size in what is just their fourth year of operation. The program now has about 150 players, most of whom come from the greater Santa Clara and Sunnyvale areas.
“We started out with just three teams and I just made my 12th team,” remarked Greco. “We have 10U all the way through 18U. One of the inspirations in starting this is that I feel there hasn’t been a lot of guidance out there in baseball. And people kept suggesting to me to start my own program since I always try to be that helpful guy and go that extra mile. Running this program, I’m not that type who feels like I’m being paid just to coach your kid, I’m here to help them get to the next level, whatever that may be, if it’s applying to schools, or other life situations.”
Greco takes pride in honest communication and timely communication being one of the backbones of his program.
“Some coaches who lead other programs are kind of just getting their paychecks, clocking in and clocking out, but I just feel like I’m always clocked in,” said Greco. “I’m texting, emailing my parents all the time whatever it is that they need to know to help them make decisions. I believe in honesty, I tell people I’m always going to keep it 100 with you. If I’m frustrated with you, if you did something wrong, I’m going to let you know why, but then I’m gonna pat you on the back and get you back out there and raise your hopes back up again.”
Unlike other travel programs, Greco actually encourages his younger players to play Little League. With 13 years of experience at Santa Clara Briarwood, including three years as its Vice President, he values his younger players participating in Little League. Parents therefore don’t have to choose one or the other, Little League or travel ball.
“I do run my program 12 months, but I created a program specifically for our 10U to 12U groups,” said Greco. “We want them to focus on Little League. You only get to do Little League once. The All Stars, the TOCs, the dream of going to the Little League World Series, all of that is special. I mean I have a banner at Briarwood that will hang there for the rest of my kids’ life. We can always go back to that field and be like ‘hey, remember that team that my son played on and we won?’ There are just so many memories that Little League can create.”
While Living Legend is a for profit, fee-based baseball program, the last thing Greco wants is players to be turned away based on financial burden.
“I have a few kids who have hardships and probably couldn’t play baseball anywhere else because a lot of programs out there will say ‘if you can’t pay the fee, you’re not playing’ and I could be that guy, but how many breaks have I gotten in my life?” asks Greco. “People have hard times and need help. Ultimately, I donate about $10,000 worth of fees every year. That could be profit for me by selecting other kids who can pay the fees, but I choose to give that money back to some of the kids in the program. So while they don’t pay in the end, they’ll get the same experience as any other player.”
For more on the Living Legends program visit their website: livinglegendsbaseball.com.