WOBURN, Mass. -- It's easy to see the fun that Mookie Betts has on a daily basis when he steps between the lines for the Red Sox.Even outside of the lines it's the mission that he lives by and preaches, and something he was sure to reiterate to the 200
WOBURN, Mass. -- It's easy to see the fun that Mookie Betts has on a daily basis when he steps between the lines for the Red Sox.
Even outside of the lines it's the mission that he lives by and preaches, and something he was sure to reiterate to the 200 children on hand for the inaugural Citi Mookie Betts Baseball Clinic at Woburn Memorial High School on Thursday evening.
The All-Star outfielder's main message to the kids was: "Just have fun, enjoy the game and not stress about anything bad right now. Everyone is young, and we have to understand that it's a game and to have fun. As we get older, we start to understand the other sides of it, but right now we just want to have fun."
At the one-day event, boys and girls from grades 1 through 8 were taught hitting, fielding, and running fundamentals of the game.
With Betts on hand interacting with all of the participants throughout the day, it was easy to see that the fun that he was preaching was taking full hold over the clinic.
"Having fun is definitely how you're going to keep yourself loose, and be at your best," Betts said. "I think when you're stressing, or worried about your performance, worrying about this and worrying about that, that's when things start to get tough and you're not enjoying it anymore and it becomes a job. Although it is our job to play, still you have to understand that it's a game and you have to enjoy it."
Of course, the kids did ratchet up their excitement whenever the Sox right fielder visited their station or game in progress.
Betts even took the time to participate in each of the mini-games being held at the end of the camp, though the time spent pitching was a bit of a humbling experience at times.
"I was trying to throw strikes," he said. "Once I saw them hitting it, I tried to mix in a couple of splitters, but it didn't work. You know, whatever, I know it's fun right now. Them succeeding brings a smile to my face. That's the most important thing."
Betts believes that the game may lack some joy and excitement at times, which is why he brings the attitude he does to the ballpark, and beyond, in an attempt to shape the attitudes of those watching.
He also knows that he is in a prime position to teach youngsters the enjoyable aspects of the game, in hopes of cultivating a new group of fun-loving baseball players and fans.
"It's definitely a blessing," Betts said. "I never want to take it for granted. Everything I've learned, everything I've been through, I want to tell them about the experiences and tell them what not to do. ... Anytime I can give back, I want to do that. I think I've tried to have a platform to speak and to help kids understand learning about baseball. I think people don't enjoy it as much as they used to. People say, 'Make baseball fun again.' Well, I'm trying."
There are 200 children who will attest the fact that on this day, he succeeded.
Craig Forde is a contributor to MLB.com based in Boston.