SAN DIEGO -- Baseball fanatics of all ages were out in full force Saturday morning at Petco Park, as the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association teamed up with the San Diego Padres and Fanatics to host their Legends for Youth baseball clinic.Five former Major League players -- Calvin Pickering,
SAN DIEGO -- Baseball fanatics of all ages were out in full force Saturday morning at Petco Park, as the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association teamed up with the San Diego Padres and Fanatics to host their Legends for Youth baseball clinic.
Five former Major League players -- Calvin Pickering, Allen Dykstra, Jon Leicester, Anthony Slama and Cole Liniak -- helped host a free clinic where baseball fundamentals of hitting, fielding and baserunning were emphasized. MLBPAA's Legends for Youth host 185 baseball clinics each year, impacting nearly 18,000 children around the world. The MLBPAA has reached children nationally across America and has also spread internationally to countries such as Australia, China, the Dominican Republic, Panama and Venezuela. The organization has three goals: to inspire and educate youth, raise money for charity events and to promote the game of baseball.
"I think in this case, the event hits all three of our mission statements," special event manager Devon Thrasher said. "The biggest part is that it doesn't only give back to the kids, but it really gets our former players back involved with the game that gave them so much for so long."
Pickering -- who played five seasons in the big leagues, most notably with the Orioles and Royals -- tends to agree.
"It's fun coming out and giving back," he said. "I've been playing this game for a long time. It's fun to give my hand and work with these kids. This is our future and it's awesome."
"It's just special to give back to the community and teach them the game of baseball," Liniak, who played two seasons with the Cubs, added. "I'd really like for this game to explode in the United States like it's been exploding in Latin America."
Saturday's event seemed to have a surge of popularity as over 90 kids participated. After two hours of drills, they were all treated to an autograph and giveaway session from the former players.
"They [the former players] love instructing, this is what they do now," Thrasher said. "You're a former player much longer than you are a current player, and for them to be able to pass along their skills to their next generation is really awesome."
Katie Woo is a reporter for MLB.com based in San Diego. Follow her on Twitter @katiejwoo.