D-backs host kids during Gila River Hometown Tour
Consider it one of the rare instances where D-backs pitcher Patrick Corbin doesn't mind giving up a long ball.
Less than 24 hours before thousands of D-backs fans were anticipated to descend on Chase Field for Saturday's ninth annual Subway D-backs FanFest, the Gila River Hometown Tour made its way to the ballpark to help give 100 youths from the nearby Boys & Girls Club Komatke and Sacaton branches an exclusive sneak peek of the next day's scheduled fan activities.
That also included a few appearances from some familiar faces. Corbin joined fellow pitchers Josh Collmenter and David Hernandez and outfielder Adam Eaton to help encourage the youngsters from the Gila River Indian Community to enjoy a Subway meal in the D-backs' dugout, participate in a coloring contest, tour the clubhouse and play a little Wiffle ball.
"As a pitcher you never want to give up hits, but to these kids it's fine," said Corbin. "I was telling them all to take me deep if they could. To come out here and make their day is all we're trying to do. When I was a kid, I would have been so excited to meet players and interact with them. I'm sure they'll remember this for some time, and the D-backs do a great job in helping communities with these types of programs."
Hernandez did his part by helping some of the D-backs' young guests with their coloring skills.
"That's something I pride myself on when it comes to coloring -- staying within the lines," said the reliever. "It's fun to reach out to the community, to kids and to fans. They support us, so it's always good for us to give back, and it's definitely fun to be around kids. I have two of my own, so it's great to be out here."
According to Rebecca Martinez, branch executive from Gila River Sacaton, there are 11 Boys & Girls Clubs in the East Valley with two located on the Gila River Indian Community that serve as an after-school, nonprofit organization for youths ages 5-18.
"We're very fortunate today," said Martinez. "This is all thanks to Gila River Casinos and thanks to the D-backs for having us. When we told the kids we were seeing the D-backs, they went 'What time?' so this is great for them. A lot of them never get to go to games, so this is a great way for them to get to know the players. A lot of our kids don't have the opportunity to leave the Gila River Indian Community. Coming downtown is an experience in itself, so this is a first for a lot of them. The D-backs are huge supporters of the Boys & Girls Clubs, so we are very grateful to them."
Following Friday's fun at Chase Field, the D-backs' quartet had one more Gila River Hometown Tour event to go before the next day's Subway D-backs FanFest. The players headed to nearby Gila River Casinos Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino for a public autograph session where 200 lucky fans were eligible to meet them and get a signature.
"It's a lot like FanFest, which should be fun," said Eaton. "It's a great opportunity for players and fans to mingle. Saturday's a unique opportunity here in Arizona, too, because we're doing all this on our field. It's a great chance for everybody to get up close and personal. It's amazing for us and fans, really."