Nats' academy hosts DC kids, ex-big leaguers
WASHINGTON -- Roughly 50 boys and girls from the D.C. area flocked to the Nationals Youth Baseball Academy on Saturday morning to test their skills and learn the game from former Major Leaguers.
"It's a great experience for the boys," Dan Melchior said of his two children, Daniel, 12, and Mitchell, 6. "This is our third that we've been to. My oldest, he's been coming for four or five years now every time it happens. He gets excited meeting the players, picking up some tips. And from my perspective, it's great to see guys like Al Bumbry, who I watched as a kid."
Bumbry was the 1973 AL Rookie of the Year and spent 12 seasons with the Orioles, including 1983, when Baltimore won the World Series. He still resides in Baltimore and helps out at clinics "whenever he's asked."
"I enjoy these myself, but it's all about the kids," Bumbry said. "I make sure they enjoy themselves and learn something."
Chuck Goggin, who played for the Tigers, Pirates and Red Sox in the early 1970s, was another of the seven former big leaguers teaching various aspects of the game. Bumbry and Goggin are two of three living ex-Major Leaguers who served in Vietnam.
Daniel Melchior, the older brother, played in a Nationals hat with several signatures, including that of his favorite player, Jayson Werth. Melchior excelled at Bumbry's outfield station, but his favorite session was in the hitting cage with Stephen Lombardozzi, or, as Melchior called him, Steve Lombardozzi's dad.
The coolest part of the morning for Melchior, though, was playing with members of the Jackie Robinson West Little League, the 2014 U.S. Champions. Several members of the team were visiting the D.C. area and joined in the clinic.
"[This] gives the kids in the area a chance to come and work with the Nats and they become more of the community, too," Dan Melchior said. "In general, the Nats players have gone out of their way in the whole 10 years that they've been here to reach out to the kids, reach out to the community."