ImpACTA Kids Foundation holds annual clinic
Program led by Indians skipper offers instruction to underprivileged
With the support of Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Alumni Association, the ImpACTA Kids Foundation, founded and headed by Indians manager Manny Acta, held its third annual baseball clinic for underprivileged youths on Saturday in the Terreno de Cocolos complex in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic.
The event, led by Acta himself, offered free instruction to more than 300 teenagers on the baseball fields of the aforementioned complex.
Among the instructors were Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano and Indians pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez, as well as former ballplayers Juan Ramon Bernhardt, Hector Eduardo, Andres Santana and Francisco Morales.
Acta worked with all of the participants, devoting 15 minutes each to groups of 20 to 25 youngsters during which he spoke of the proper execution of baseball fundamentals.
In a chat with the press, Acta expressed satisfaction with the support he has received to organize these clinics. He points out that for the third year in a row he has been able to hold the event right after the Winter Meetings, which this year took place in Dallas.
Acta also revealed that a third ballpark in the Terreno de Cocolos complex named after ex-big leaguer Julio Franco will be unveiled Thursday. Currently, the complex includes two baseball fields, named after native sons Sammy Sosa and Rico Carty, as well as a multi-use indoor facility that bears the name of Alfredo Griffin.
Sosa, Carty, Griffin and Franco are products of the former Consuelo sugar mill community, as is Acta, who is paying homage to these figures with the naming of the various facilities. A fourth stadium that will bear the name of Rafael Batista, another star from the Consuelo sugar mill area, is also in the works.
The lands on which the Terreno de Cocolos sit were donated to the ImpACTA Kids Foundation in 2007 by the State Sugar Council and the Sports Ministry, in an area that belonged to the no longer extant Consuelo sugar mill.
"Since then we began to build sporting infrastructure for the benefit of the children and young people of this community," the Indians skipper said. "Currently, between 300 and 400 kids and youngsters come to the complex to practice baseball, which gives us a lot of satisfaction because if they didn't have this place to train, it is likely they would be involved in unwholesome activities.
"Our multi-use indoor facility has classrooms where kids come every day to study and do homework, and they are not allowed to play baseball until they have done so. Save the Children is helping us set up the classrooms and get computers. We are grateful for all that the organization is doing to help these young people. We also have volunteer teachers who teach for free as a contribution to our community."
As for what has motivated him to work on behalf of his community, Acta said, "Since I was a young man, I swore that if I had this opportunity I would come help my people of the Consuelo sugar mill.
"I have always felt that the biggest problem that affects our country is the lack of education, and that is why I want to help to change that," he added. "This is a problem that will take time to solve, which is why we need to start now so that we can have a different country.
"When I was named manager of the Nationals, I invited reporters from The Washington Post to visit the Consuelo sugar mill region so they could see where I was born and where I began playing baseball. The hope was that they would realize the situation in the Dominican Republic and how the lack of opportunity limits the lives of many youngsters. That is the reason why I am helping my people, so they have a chance to get ahead and achieve all that I have achieved.
"To continue with the work we have begun," Acta added, "we need the support of the government or an NGO to help out with maintenance and to provide surveillance and security for the complex, so as to avoid having stolen all that we have worked so hard to get."