MLBPAA, Miami Marlins host Legends for Youth Clinic

August 22nd, 2022
Miami Marlins

MIAMI — As a youngster growing up in the Dominican Republic, Antonio Alfonseca knew of a number of players who made it to the big leagues.

Any guidance he received from them came in passing or simply by chance meetings.

Nothing, he said, was like the baseball clinic he took part in Saturday morning at loanDepot Park with other local members of the MLB Players Alumni Association.

Alfonseca, a popular reliever during his time with the Florida Marlins, was one of seven former MLB players who helped run the Legends For Youth baseball clinic on the same field the Marlins play on.

More than 100 youngsters from ages 6-13 spent more than two hours working on everything from hitting drills in left field to baserunning and pitching work.

Saturday’s Legends for Youth clinic was one of more than 180 free events held each year.

Alfonseca, who still resides in South Florida, said he is happy to help out the kids whenever asked.

“I have such a great time, I love being out here,” said Alfonseca, wearing his familiar black jersey with Marlins across the front in silver and a matching Florida Marlins cap.

“People always say I’m like a big kid and I don’t care. I love helping these kids. Whenever they need me, I’ll be here because it is for the kids. Whatever I may be doing at the time, I’ll put that aside.’’

Jon Jay may not have played for the Marlins but he grew up in the Miami area, attending Christopher Columbus High School before moving on to the University of Miami.

A World Series champion with the St. Louis Cardinals, Jay addressed the group of kids following their on-field activities and gave them a bit of advice which has served him well over the years.

“Always have fun,’’ said Jay, wearing his Cardinals’ home jersey, “and always try your hardest. If you do that, you will get a little better each and every day.”

Unlike Alfonseca, Jay did grow up by getting some advice from his heroes — but it came at various camps run by then-Hurricanes coach Jim Morris.

The University of Miami held camps similar to the one in Little Havana on Saturday and Jay attended a lot of them before eventually signing and playing for the Hurricanes.

Jay continues to live in Miami and said he is currently working toward his degree in business at UM.

“Anytime I can give back is amazing, especially in my community of Miami,” said Jay, who was a second-round pick by the Cardinals in 2006 and ended up playing in over 1,200 games with the Cardinals, Padres, Cubs, Royals, Diamondbacks, White Sox and Angels.

“To be able to do a camp on a Major League baseball field is just unbelievable. This is something these kids will look back on as they get older and remember. For me, going to the camps at UM were my memories as a kid so it is very cool to be able to pay it forward, see the future on the field here.”

Mark Worrell, who grew up in South Florida and lives in Boca Raton, has helped out in over a dozen MLBPAA camps in Florida and Texas but said Saturday’s event was something special.

Being in a genuine Major League ballpark simply cannot be replicated.

“To work with these kids and see their excitement at being able to work with Major Leaguers is always awesome,” said Worrell, who pitched at Miami’s Florida International University before appearing in the bigs with the Cardinals and Orioles.

“Today is like icing on the cake because you not only get to be part of one of these events but it is inside an actual MLB stadium. It is a lot of fun for the staff and the kids as well.

“There’s only 30 of these ballparks around. Being able to be on the field you see every day on television, put your feet on the ground your favorite players play is really cool for them.”

Aside from Alfonseca, one of the more popular players among the parents watching from the third base box seats was Alex Arias.

An original member of the Marlins, Arias pinch-hit in the team’s first game in 1993 and was part of the 1997 World Series championship team with Alfonseca.

Wearing his commemorative 25th-anniversary Marlins’ World Series cap, Arias was impressed by the skill some of the kids possessed.

Arias spent five seasons with Florida and played 775 games with the Marlins, Cubs, Phillies, Padres and Yankees.

“It’s great and we saw a lot of talent out here today,” said Arias, who ran the infield drills.

“These kids can play some baseball. Hopefully, we can keep that tradition going and help these kids have stories when they get older. This is something, we hope, that they will always remember.”

Added Alfonseca: “I remember being a kid and now I get to help these kids. I will always do so when asked. These kids are very lucky to have something like this. It was a lot of fun.”