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Former MLB players cherish chance to teach children

March 4, 2019

CELEBRATION, Fla. -- If you could get free hands-on instruction for your child from former MLB players, would you?More than 50 families jumped at just such an opportunity March 2 at Celebration Little League. A group from the MLB Players Alumni Association coached their children in the fundamentals of hitting,

CELEBRATION, Fla. -- If you could get free hands-on instruction for your child from former MLB players, would you?
More than 50 families jumped at just such an opportunity March 2 at Celebration Little League. A group from the MLB Players Alumni Association coached their children in the fundamentals of hitting, baserunning, fielding and throwing.
This edition in the Legends for Youth baseball clinic series featured retired players Orestes Destrade, Lenny Faedo, Jason Johnson, Seth McClung, James Parr, Wily Mo Pena, Mark Worrell and World Series champions Dave LaPoint and Mike Devereaux. Young players moved among these alumni in six stations: baserunning, infield technique, throwing form, pitching motion, outfield footwork and swing mechanics.
The session ended with a group photo, autographed baseballs and words of wisdom from the instructors. They stressed dedication as crucial to success, whether in baseball or elsewhere in life.
"We've been doing this a long time," LaPoint told the children, pointing to one sitting directly in front of him. "Look at the sweat on this dude's hat. That's a hard worker right there, kids."
LaPoint used this light moment to transition to the importance of hard work. He used outfielder Bryce Harper's record $330 million contract with the Phillies as an example. All of the children were familiar with Harper's deal, which LaPoint used to demonstrate the importance of good character.
"We all know that if we want to play baseball, certain people are going to be looking at us along the way," LaPoint said. "Scouts come and look at you, and they're going to send an evaluation on what type of person you are. One of the first things they do is go talk to your teachers. ... Not just your grades, but what kind of a person are you?
"When I got signed to a contract, a scout came up to me and said, 'The one thing we noticed about you is that you're that guy out there helping pick things up after practice … and you were trying to help your teammates.' If you're going to play this team sport … be a good teammate. We're going to try to make that guy better because that's going to make our whole team better."
McClung affirmed LaPoint's message and drove home to the children how critical determination and desire are.
"Anything you want in this world … requires commitment and sacrifice," McClung said. "If I could leave you with anything today: If you want something, make an action to get it." 
These messages seemed to resonate with the children. Brothers Asher and Judah Erickson, 11 and 7 respectively, said they understood the primary importance of sticking with it.
"Be calm," Judah said. "If you did something that you think is really bad, you don't have to just worry about it. You made a mistake, and you can always make up those mistakes."
The Ericksons also said they appreciated extended time to learn from experts. The alumni's attention to details stood out to Asher.
"I learned what the steps are to throw as an outfielder, kind of taking a little shuffle," Asher said, describing a crow hop. "I also learned for batting you need to have an even horizontal line of the bat, and usually you want your knuckles to be even."
But Asher made sure to reiterate LaPoint and McClung's parting words about taking nothing for granted and working every day.
"If you want something, you have to earn it," Asher said. "Life isn't given to you. If you want a job, you have to earn it."

Zak Kerr is a contributor to MLB.com.