MLBPAA's Legends for Youth Clinic visits Downey, Calif.

July 18th, 2022

Just 15 miles southeast of the Futures Game at Dodger Stadium, where some of the best upcoming talent in baseball took center stage, the next crop of young talent learned from seven former professional baseball players in the Legends for Youth Baseball Clinic on Saturday.

More than 100 boys and girls lined up outside the Downey High School baseball field for an opportunity to develop their baseball skills. From kids who have played in little league to those who have never watched the sport, the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association created an environment where anyone could thrive.

Steve Lyons, a nine-year big leaguer with a career batting average of .252 and 19 home runs, led one of the seven skills stations. Lyons demonstrated the best tactics to attack ground balls at shortstop, as well as flipping the ball to the second baseman.

The novices at the game were noticeable to Lyons but they impressed the former utility player with how quickly they picked up the lessons. His teachings not only applied to baseball, however. Lyons emphasized that the fundamentals of the sport – trying your hardest – would help them in anything they do.

“There are some kids here who have never picked up a baseball before today,” Lyons said. “But their minds are like sponges, so they’re picking things up quickly. It’s really impressive what they can do at this age.”

Former left-handed Houston Astros pitcher Mike Gallo, who appeared in the 2005 World Series with the Astros, brought the heat when showing the dos and don’ts of pitching at the Major League level.

Gallo’s enthusiasm was palpable when he demonstrated to the young groups how to grip a fastball and maintain their balance on the mound. Since retiring from baseball, the Long Beach native has taken up coaching duties in the little league for his 8-year-old son, which has helped how he communicates lessons to the young participants.

“If they don’t bring these kids out here, they’re not going to get better,” Gallo said. “Today, they got better and that’s what the game is about. The game is built around failure, so learn from it.”

Brent Cookson, Rene Gonzales, Phil Ouellette, William Oullette and Jimmy Serrano led the additional skills stations that covered the various aspects of baseball. From hitting to shagging fly balls in the outfield, kids of all playing levels had the opportunity to enhance their skills on and off the field.

Christian Battiest, 11, heard of the clinic from his little league team and wanted to meet some of the players who once donned the Dodgers uniform. Battiest aspires to a be professional baseball player, particularly for his hometown team, and feels that Saturday’s clinic put him closer to his dream.

“I learned new batting techniques today,” Battiest said. “I can hit a lot further and a lot better now. I’ll get to drive in more runs now when I play in my games.”

The clinic was sponsored by Extreme Networks.