DALLAS -- Local law enforcement, the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation and the Texas Rangers MLB Youth Baseball Academy came together on Thursday night to host a special clinic for about 100 children at the Mercy Street Sports Complex.Badges for Baseball is a program put on by the Ripken Foundation involving
DALLAS -- Local law enforcement, the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation and the Texas Rangers MLB Youth Baseball Academy came together on Thursday night to host a special clinic for about 100 children at the Mercy Street Sports Complex.
Badges for Baseball is a program put on by the Ripken Foundation involving a life-skills training program that pairs at-risk youth with law enforcement mentors from local communities. The program also strives to repair contentious relationships between inner-city children and law enforcement.
"We're trying to flip the perception that young kids might have of law enforcement," said Travis Punt, senior director of programs for the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation. "Show them there is somebody behind the badge and they are out there to help them. They can use them as a friend and a mentor."
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Rangers third-base coach Tony Beasley and former pitcher Darren Oliver were also there to help with the clinic on a cool spring night in West Dallas.
"It's good for kids to see there is a human being behind the badge ... a real person," Oliver said. "They are not afraid to be with them in this environment and get a better understanding of how law enforcement works."
The clinic included baseball and softball drills for infield, outfield, hitting, pitching and quickball. The participants were also treated to dinner and a concert from country music artist Matt Stillwell. There were also demonstrations by K9 squads and SWAT teams put on by the Arlington and Grand Prairie police departments.
"I love kids and I love people," Beasley said. "A lot of these kids, we can impact them in a positive way. When you get a chance to make an impact like this, you need to take advantage of it."
The Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation -- created by Billy Ripken and Cal Ripken Jr. -- hosts Badges for Baseball clinics across the country as part of its mission to impact at-risk youth and organizations by using a sports and character development curriculum to teach important life lessons.
The Texas Rangers MLB Youth Academy officially opened in December and averages approximately 700 children a week using the facility. The 17-acre facility includes two professional-sized fields, three youth fields and the indoor Adrian Beltre Field in the Globe Life Training Center. In addition to baseball and softball instruction, the academy provides access to off-the-field programs such as tutoring, college and career fairs and math courses taught through the use of baseball statistics.
The academy is home to all Pinkston High School practices and home games as well as Sunset High School baseball games and Edison Middle School softball games.
T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.