LOS ANGELES -- Approximately 80 Los Angeles-area kids congregated behind the Dodgers' bullpen in left field Tuesday morning, awaiting a surprise event.The youth baseball and softball players certainly got more than they bargained for, being treated to a Wiffle ball game in the Dodger Stadium outfield, with appearances from Cody
LOS ANGELES -- Approximately 80 Los Angeles-area kids congregated behind the Dodgers' bullpen in left field Tuesday morning, awaiting a surprise event.
The youth baseball and softball players certainly got more than they bargained for, being treated to a Wiffle ball game in the Dodger Stadium outfield, with appearances from Cody Bellinger, Enrique Hernandez and several former Dodgers.
The event was put on by the team and the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation to support MLB's Play Ball initiative.
"You see, it's the same game -- everyone wants to have fun with it," said Bellinger, while pointing to an ongoing Wiffle ball game. "You're going to have your struggles every now and then, but you've just got to always keep it in perspective and try to have a good time."
The day started with Dodgers strength and conditioning coach Brandon McDaniel taking the kids through some stretches after an address from Dodgers vice president of external affairs and community relations, Naomi Rodriguez.
The kids then went onto the field to take part in a trio of Wiffle ball games.
"It's just really exciting that they get to take over in this way and kind of own the stadium for this couple of hours," said Nichol Whiteman, executive director of the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation. "They're getting to play a Wiffle ball tournament on the field where their star players are playing on most nights throughout the season."
Former Dodgers Kenny Landreaux, Billy Ashley and Derrel Thomas served as the pitchers for the games.
Kids from the Dodgers' RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) and Los Angeles Police Department Community Safety Partnership programs made up the players for Tuesday's Wiffle ball games.
"This is where it all starts, right here, having fun playing baseball," Landreaux said. "And they're getting a chance to do it at Dodger Stadium. This is outstanding."
Bellinger and Hernandez joined the event later, and the Wiffle ball games were put on hold for a bit as nearly every kid in attendance swarmed around the duo.
Both players served as pitchers and even squared off against each other. Hernandez got Bellinger, who homered twice in the Dodgers' 10-6 win over the Mets on Monday, to do what most Major League pitchers have struggled with this year -- hit the ball on the ground.
"I got to face him on the bump and I got him out," Hernandez said. " If you want to know how to get Cody Bellinger out, come see me."
Participants were given tickets to the Dodgers' game against the Mets on Wednesday, when some will be recognized in a pregame ceremony.
The Play Ball initiative sets out to to encourage kids and communities to take part in baseball- or softball-related activities, as part of a collective effort from the sport.
Ryan Posner is a contributor to MLB.com.