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Astros players teach kids fundamentals at local clinics

Dominguez, Barnes, Veras and Wright visit three Houston-area parks

HOUSTON -- The Astros organization continued to give back to the community, hosting three baseball clinics at youth baseball parks across the Houston area on Saturday morning.

Four players, along with Astros president Reid Ryan, teamed up with the Astros Urban Youth Academy to host clinics at Ingrando, Diez and Moody Park. Third baseman Matt Dominguez, outfielder Brandon Barnes and pitchers Jose Veras and Wesley Wright participated in the clinics to teach kids ages 7-12 some baseball fundamentals.

"This program is not just benefiting the Astros by creating long-term fans, but it's getting more kids involved with the game of baseball," Ryan said. "There are some great life lessons in baseball: How to work with others, how to play within the rules and, more importantly, how to fail and how to overcome failure. If you hit .300, you are failing seven out of 10 times. Hopefully, these kids will have some fun, win some games and, when their careers are over, they will go away with some life lessons."

Ryan has been very busy in his first week as club president, but still made time to come out to the different clinics to work with the kids.

"I think the more kids you can get involved with sports -- and the more kids you can get involved with baseball -- the better people you will have in your community," said Ryan. "Houston has so many fields and so many leagues, that having someone like BlueCross BlueShield to come infuse a bunch of money into the fields, not only does it make the field nice but it gets the whole community fired up."

The clinics are a continuation of the Community Leaders program launched by the Astros. All of the parks have been newly renovated by the Astros Foundation, in partnership with various corporate sponsors. Each sponsor is responsible for the continued support of the youth ballfields, which will include additional programing such as the clinics held on Saturday. The youth teams will also receive tickets to Astros games at Minute Maid Park, visits from players and alumni, and other donated goods and services over the course of the five-year initiative.

The clinics were led by staff from the Astros Urban Youth Academy and the coaches of the Dixie Little League.

"It is very important for [kids in] inner cities to have places where they can play -- with green spaces and equipment and things like that -- and the Astros are making great strides [toward] getting that done," said Brandon Denton, coordinator for the Astros UYA. "I know this community here is appreciative of what we are doing."

The Astros Community Leaders program has pledged to invest $18 million in city-owned public youth baseball and softball fields in the disadvantaged areas of Houston over the next five years.

"It's about saying that the community is important to this organization and to the players," Wright said. "It is always good to see people in the stands, and the way to [help that happen] is to get out in the community and let them get to know you, and let them know that you appreciate what they do."

With the addition of the newly renovated fields at Ingrando Park on May 18, 11 fields have been reopened through the Community Leaders program, and additional renovation for more fields is underway. These revitalized fields will serve thousands of at-risk youth in Houston.

Ryan Cantrell is an associate reporter for

Houston Astros, Brandon Barnes, Matt Dominguez, Jose Veras, Wesley Wright