MLB alumni teach game to next generation at Legends for Youth Clinic

June 9th, 2024
MLB alumni participated in a Legends for Youth Clinic on Saturday at Babcock Park in Hialeah, Fla.JC Ruiz/Miami Marlins

HIALEAH, Fla. -- The future of baseball got a glimpse of the big leagues on Saturday morning, as more than 300 South Florida youth learned the game from some former MLB heroes.

The MLB Players Alumni Association and Miami Marlins hosted a Legends for Youth Clinic at the home of the Marlins Youth Academy, Babcock Park in Hialeah, Fla. The free event was an opportunity for local ballplayers, ages 5-13, to receive baseball instruction from former Marlins players, giving these participants an unforgettable experience.

"We love our community -- and events like this are really what we're all about," said Caroline O’Connor, Marlins president of business operations. "Being out here and seeing the kids with MLB alumni, and letting them see those role models and what they can be one day if they stay at it. But also, [it shows them] what they can be if they just get out here and work and enjoy their company. We're building really great community members here, and we're proud to be a part of that."

Some tough weather conditions overnight could have affected the clinic on Saturday morning, but the kids’ love for baseball prevailed. MLB chief baseball development officer Tony Reagins believes that is a sign of great things to come.

Todd Hollandsworth gets ready to shake hands with a Legends for Youth Clinic participant.JC Ruiz/Miami Marlins

"We had some rain [Friday] night and earlier this morning, but that hasn't stopped these young people from getting out there and having some fun with our game," Reagins said. "I'm excited to see what could happen here and in Hialeah going forward. It looks like the Marlins and the City of Hialeah are really excited about growing our sport, which for our sport is a good thing."

Participants rotated across several stations where they learned fundamentals of hitting, fielding, bunting, throwing and more. Beyond the baseball skills they learned, the kids also had a chance to receive some big league wisdom from players like 2003 World Series champion and former NL Rookie of the Year Todd Hollandsworth.

"It's a lot of fun to be able to get back out into the community and give back [because of] what this game has given me," Hollandsworth said. "I'm so grateful for all the opportunities I received and all the coaches that I had that just gave of their time and their effort freely. We know that this game of baseball, if we want to advance it, we certainly need to do our part -- as those of us who got the opportunity to even get all the way to the big league level -- to give back to the community to be able to be a part of it. You see the smiles on all these kids' faces and you really realize how much they appreciate it."

Antonio Alfonseca demonstrates pitching technique to participants at a Legends for Youth Clinic on Saturday at Babcock Park in Hialeah, Fla.JC Ruiz/Miami Marlins

Smiles were abundant across Babcock Park, as participants and their families interacted with each other and the former big leaguers. As the clinic came to a close, Hollandsworth, Antonio Alfonseca and Alex Arias from the 1997 World Series team, as well as former infielder Robert Andino, outfielder Bruce Aven and pitchers Luis Aquino and Hector Almonte, posed for pictures and signed autographs for those in attendance.

"It's thrilling to see so many families and so many kids," said Myrna Vaca, executive director of the Miami Marlins Foundation. "We are unifying the community -- and this is another opportunity for parents to reconnect with not just the Marlins, but with their families. We're building stronger communities through events like this, we're building healthier communities by having the kids be active -- and we're building hope in these kids, as well, because they see these amazing alumni players and it motivates them to work hard and go after their dreams."

For Andino, Saturday was a full-circle moment -- as the clinic brought the Miami native back to a youth field he starred on growing up.

"I played on these fields at Babcock and I grew up playing on these fields all over Miami, so it’s special to be back here today giving back to the kids," Andino said. "It’s great to spend time with the kids, teach them some fundamentals of baseball and put a smile on their faces. When I was that age, I wish I could have met a big leaguer and learned from them and talked to them. Any time I get a chance to come to these events, I am more than happy to do it because I know how much it means to the kids that participate. These kids are our future."