DALLAS, Texas – The Major League Baseball Players’ Alumni Association held a youth clinic Saturday morning (July 13) and a coaches clinic in the afternoon at the Texas Rangers’ Mercy Street complex. The MLBPAA holds these instructional events around the county for most of the summer, but this one had
DALLAS, Texas – The Major League Baseball Players’ Alumni Association held a youth clinic Saturday morning (July 13) and a coaches clinic in the afternoon at the Texas Rangers’ Mercy Street complex. The MLBPAA holds these instructional events around the county for most of the summer, but this one had healthy input from the Texas Rangers’ organization.
The Mercy Street complex is a marvelous facility. It includes Oates Field, a state of the art 100% turf surface. It also includes the indoor Globe Life Training facility which has not only a field, but classrooms. The Rangers made the facilities available and provided baseballs.
The Rangers recruited the participating kids from the RBI program they sponsor. Thirty-seven players were on the field Saturday morning, including one female, who got high marks from the coaches for her athleticism. (“She kicked ass,” as one coach put it.)
They initially broke the participants down into five groups with instruction on various locations on the field. Former Major Leaguers, Trey Beamon and Cedric Landrum, were in the batting cages working soft toss and off the tee. Jack Lazorko and Skip Pitlock handled the pitching, with Pitlock demonstrating conditioning exercises and Lazorko working with the kids throwing off the mound in the bullpen. John Knox worked with the infielders, Jimmy Serrano worked with the outfielders and John Briscoe worked on the fundamentals of throwing and catching. Every player worked at each of the stations.
Pitlock noted that this group was older than most of the clinics. There were a lot of 14-16 year-olds, freshmen and sophomores in high school. He also noted this was a more talented group than they usually have at these gatherings. It was obvious that these kids were serious about baseball. He was complimentary of the participants saying, “They pay attention, and they’re polite.”
One participant was Justin Brooks, a 14 year-old with one of the best swings in the group. He readily said “yes,” when asked if he was having fun. He normally plays center field, but Saturday when asked about his favorite station, he quickly answered “the infield.” He was asked to compare the instruction at Saturday’s clinic to the coaches of his summer league team. He said he definitely heard “some different things” from the former Major League instructors.
Osvald Cabrera is also a 14-year-old who attended Saturday. He said he liked the clinic because, “The fact that you’re able to ask questions, and they work with your mechanics. I’m getting better overall.”
Pitlock showed the players exercises he calls “plyo metrics” to build their lower body strength. The stronger lower body then transfers the strength to the upper body and finally to the arm. The exercises also help with injury prevention. He left the players with pass outs that recapped the exercises he taught.
Jack Lazorko is the President of the Dallas Chapter of the MLB Players Alumni Association. He said there’s no problem getting former players involved in these clinics. One big reason is that so many former players live in the greater Dallas/Ft. Worth area. Beamon and Briscoe are from the area having graduated from W. T. White and Lloyd V. Berkner High Schools, respectively.
“It’s a good way for the Alumni to five back to kids around the country,” Lazorko said about the participation of the former players. The Dallas chapter is also sponsoring one of the largest and longest running charity golf tournaments in October.
The clinic for the kids wrapped up in the classroom. The importance of grades was stressed if they want to continue their baseball careers. Staying positive was stressed, often hard to do as baseball can be a humbling game. Knox put it best when he posed the question, “What is the most important pitch in baseball?” The answer is, “the next pitch!”
In the end, they were all given a new baseball, and the eight instructors autographed them for a memento of the day.
Lazorko, Landrum, Knox and Beamon came back for an afternoon session with youth league coaches. All four have been involved in coaching youth baseball. They certainly have the technical knowledge to pass along from playing so many years. They for sure passed along drills to stress fundamentals, particularly defensive and base running fundamentals. The impressive thing though was their knowledge of coaching to give advice on matters such as how to deal with parents of the kids.
This was the third clinic sponsored by the MLBPAA in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area this summer. The clinics continue in Waco and Houston next week, and then east to Louisiana and Arkansas. It’s a great program.