TEMPE, Ariz. -- Marquis Grissom thinks Marquis Grissom has a chance to be a good ball player.The former Major Leaguer is also doing his part to make sure his teenage son, Marquis Grissom Jr., and the other participants in this week's Dream Series grow up to be good men."I had
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Marquis Grissom thinks Marquis Grissom has a chance to be a good ball player.
The former Major Leaguer is also doing his part to make sure his teenage son, Marquis Grissom Jr., and the other participants in this week's Dream Series grow up to be good men.
"I had coaches who provided me with equipment, rides back and forth to the ballpark, mentorship and just giving me all the things I needed to prepare for life," said Grissom, who played 17 years in the Major Leagues with the Expos, Braves, Indians, Brewers, Dodgers and Giants starting in 1989. "It wasn't just about baseball. It was getting me ready to become a fine young man and to be productive. I know that's what I'm supposed to be doing, too."
The Dream Series, an initiative from Major League Baseball and USA Baseball that features a diverse group of some of the nation's top high school pitching and catching prospects, began workouts Friday and continues through Monday at Tempe Diablo Stadium, the Spring Training home of the Angels.
The series, which is connected to Martin Luther King Jr. Day, features on-hand coaching from former players like Grissom, presentations on baseball career opportunities on the professional and collegiate levels, and athletic assessments through the Prospect Development Pipeline Premier Events.
"I love teaching, I love development, and I love to see a kid smile," Grissom Sr. said. "When a kid gets it and starts having some success at it, and we're not talking just about baseball, things begin to change. He begins to change, and has more confidence in himself. There are more of us in this space, teaching and developing. Hopefully, we can expand and change the game, and impact as many people as possible that want to pursue the game of baseball."
Joining Grissom on the coaching staff is a list that includes Tom Gordon, Charles Johnson, Kenny Hill, Junior Spivey, LaTroy Hawkins, Darren Oliver, former MLB manager Jerry Manuel and many others.
"The coaches were calling us, asking if we were doing it again because they wanted to be a part of it," said Tony Reagins, MLB's senior vice president of youth programs. "We have probably got about 100 years of Major League experience here. For those guys to share their experience with these kids and hopefully give them some insight on things they never thought about before, it's huge."
Grissom, who retired in March 2006, made a seamless transition from full-time player to full-time youth coach after his playing days were over. It was an easy move, he said, because he coached his two older sons and most of the neighborhood kids in his free time during the final 10 years of his playing career. The former outfielder has spent the last dozen years dedicated to coaching youth.
"This is the perfect time for this event," Grissom said. "It's Martin Luther King weekend, we've got about 80 kids here from all over the country working with 15 to 20 former Major League instructors and we are all trying to get them to understand themselves a little better and understand what it's going to take to become a professional student and baseball player. This is what I've been doing for the last 12 years."
Grissom Jr., 16, is also playing in his second Dream Series. The 6-foot-1, 170-pound right-handed pitcher has participated in MLB's Elite Development Invitational twice and on two MLB Breakthrough Series teams. He says he loves having his father around, and he jokes he is still coming to terms with how good of a player his father really was during his prime
"I just really want to learn a lot from all the veteran players that are here and just to see the level of competition that I'll see in the future as I proceed to, like, college and upper levels," Grissom Jr. said. "Just to know that I'm a prospect feels good to me, but it doesn't stop, because I want to always improve as a player."
The Grissoms realize how fortunate they are to participate in the Dream Series. Grissom is hopeful the experience in Arizona will help his son grow as a player -- and as a person.
"He gets sick of hearing it from me, but when you get a chance to hear it from 10 or 15 other guys, hopefully something might stick," Grissom Sr. said. "And I'm excited for him, I'm excited to be here, and for me, this is what it's all about. I've had a lot of opportunities to go coach at the Major League level, but this is what I enjoy doing right here."
Jesse Sanchez, who has been writing for MLB.com since 2001, is a national reporter based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook.