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Duffy, Maxwell engage kids at baseball clinic

Players Trust City Clinic provides instruction to underprivileged youth

SAN FRANCISCO -- When Giants third baseman Matt Duffy was growing up in Long Beach, Calif., like most other kids in the world, he had a role model.

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Duffy looked up to David Eckstein, a 5-foot-6, 170-pound infielder for the Anaheim Angels, a man he hasn't had the chance meet. But Wednesday morning, Duffy made sure more than 50 members of the Junior Giants program got the opportunity to get to know their role model.

Duffy joined outfielder Justin Maxwell in helping out with the Players Trust City Clinic at Golden Gate Park. The players instructed underprivileged children on the various skills needed to play the game they love.

Duffy and Maxwell also participated in a question-and-answer session with the Junior Giants at the end of the program.

"I think it's always important to remember where you come from and remember that one time you were in their shoes," Duffy said. "Just the thought alone is rewarding, that you could make a difference in a little kid's life."

The Major League Baseball Players Association partners with the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation to offer free instruction from current Major Leaguers for underserved children.

The clinics help encourage youngsters to play baseball, while teaching them lessons about confidence, integrity, leadership and teamwork.

"Baseball is a team game, you've got to work together," Travis Punt, assistant director of program operations for the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation said. "It breeds leadership. It's great to teach the kids that while they're out there having fun and they're learning lessons that they are going to use for the rest of their life."

Shortly after instruction concluded, the children gathered in front of the backstop and raised their hands, eager to ask the players whatever questions came to mind.

After a few minutes of Duffy and Maxwell revealing their favorite things, Punt shifted topics.

"Why is it important for kids to stay in school?" Punt asked Maxwell.

"My parents told me if I didn't get good grades, I couldn't play baseball." Maxwell told the children. "You have many options in life, not just sports."

Hillary Caffarone, senior program coordinator for the MLBPA, said having professional players on site to interact with the children can make a major positive impact on them.

"I think it's a great influence for these kids," Caffarone said. "I think it's something they will take with them all through their years of playing Little League and even high school baseball and college; just remembering that these guys came out, helped them and spent time with them."

Oliver Macklin is an associate reporter for
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