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Stillman and Costa Mesa All-Stars continue to play

July 24, 2007

Rob Stillman has coached several players throughout his 15-plus years with Little League baseball.

So it is meaningful when he says that this year's Costa Mesa National Major Division All-Stars is one of the best he's ever coached.

The CMNLL All-Stars defeated Costa Mesa American's All-Stars twice last week, 17-1, and 29-0, to win the Mayor's Cup. But the season's not over for them just yet.

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Today, they will play in a United State Specialty Sports Assn. tournament at Big League Dreams Park in Chino Hills.

They won't be known as the Costa Mesa National All-Stars in this tournament. They're the Costa Mesa Dinger Dawgs and they're playing against Diamond Jaxx of Washington at 2:30 p.m.

Stillman said the Dinger Dawgs finished second at a tournament in Menifee during Memorial Day Weekend to qualify for the ASSSA tournament. Stillman won't be able to be with his players today in pool play, but will be there for their doubleheader on Wednesday.

Stillman, an electrical contractor, would be there if he could today. Baseball has been a big part of his life. And, it's a game he truly loves.

Back in the early 1980s after Stillman graduated from El Modena, he went to play at Santa Ana College. A pitcher, he was miffed that he did not receive enough innings, so he went and tried out for a rookie league. He said he played on scout and rookie teams for the Cincinnati Reds and Oakland Athletics for a little more than two years. He would get about $380 a week.

"One of the biggest games I played in was Double-A spring training in Modesto," he said. "I pitched against Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco."

After leaving baseball, he went straight into coaching Little League in Costa Mesa, leading Major Division teams to district titles in the late '80s. He was also on staff when Costa Mesa All-Stars won district titles three times, he said.

He also coached a Minor A Division team that won district and included his youngest son, Levi, two years ago. Levi is also on the Costa Mesa Dinger Dawgs.

Stillman also coached his sons, Jonathon, now 20, and Brice, now 19. Brice just graduated from Newport Harbor High, where he earned first-team All-Sunset League honors as a cornerback for the Sailors' football team.

He might play for Santa Ana in the fall, said Stillman, who will coach for Costa Mesa Pop Warner starting on July 30, the day after the ASSA tournament ends.

— Steve Virgen

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