Legends hit the field, give tips at Palm Coast events

Alumni participate in game and instruct kids at Legends for Youth clinic

September 27th, 2012

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- When Roy Smith received the Most Valuable Player award for going 3-for-4 with a three-run homer in the 2012 Greatest Save Hall of Fame Legends Game, it didn't matter that he had only appeared in 13 Major League games over two seasons.

Playing alongside Legends Game teammates like Darrell Evans, Rollie Fingers and Mark Whiten solidified him as part of an exclusive fraternity.

"If you're a ballplayer, whether you're playing in the Little Leagues, high school, college or the Minors, it [making it to the Major Leagues] is something everyone dreams about," said Smith, who started one game and pitched in 13 games for the Indians from 2001-02. "It's a special moment when you make it to the big leagues, so it is pretty remarkable to come out here and be a part of something like this. It feels like I was a rookie again. When I came into the clubhouse today, I walked in and the first person I see is Rollie Fingers. It's pretty awesome."

Smith joined a group of former Major League players that came together over the weekend in Daytona Beach, Fla., for an instructional clinic for kids, an auction benefit dinner and a charity golf tournament to raise awareness for KinderVision - The Greatest Save organization, a national safety program focused on teaching kids and teens about personal safety.

Fingers, the Hall of Fame pitcher who played for three teams over 17 seasons, is the national spokesperson for KinderVision board and was the main attraction at the Legends Game. Fingers and another pitching great, Lee Smith, shared stories and answered questions from the audience at the dinner about their careers.

The fifth annual clinic and the game were held at the Jackie Robinson Ballpark where the players taught kids the fundamentals of the game. Stations that included base-running, hitting and fielding were run by former legends like Jackie Brandt, Jim Perry and Bob Stinson.

"It was awesome to get such great advice from players who have played the game on the highest level," said Joey King, 14, who plays second base and shortstop for his high school in St. Augustine, Fla. "I feel a lot better about my swing and my hitting now."

King said the most influence came from Stinson, who advised the teenager to "bend his knees more and stay back on his back leg to drive off with more authority."

The game, held on Saturday night, attracted fans young and old, including John Kapcar, 70, who grew up in New Jersey rooting for the Brooklyn Dodgers before their move to Los Angeles.

"It's great to come out and see players who played alongside some of the people I grew up watching," said Kapcar, who is now a fan of the Cubs because of their affiliation with the Daytona Minor League franchise. "It's interesting and neat to see how they can still hit the ball and that they are still very coordinated."

Mark Whiten, who played for nine teams over his 11-year career and is most known for hitting four home runs in a game while playing for the Cardinals in 1993, appreciated being back together with Major Leaguers he competed against and alongside with.

"It's always fun coming out here playing with these guys I played with and the alumni guys who were in the game so long," Whiten said. "It's great to be able to give back to the kids and give back to the game and the fans who love it so much. The game blessed us with the chance to do that, and it's always special to do something like this."