KANSAS CITY -- Early Tuesday afternoon, a couple hundred feet past the left-field wall, approximately 40 special-needs children -- along with their families, a group of volunteers, Royals coaches and players -- gathered at the Little K in Kauffman Stadium's Outfield Experience.Camped out at third base, Royals right-hander Danny Duffy
KANSAS CITY -- Early Tuesday afternoon, a couple hundred feet past the left-field wall, approximately 40 special-needs children -- along with their families, a group of volunteers, Royals coaches and players -- gathered at the Little K in Kauffman Stadium's Outfield Experience.
Camped out at third base, Royals right-hander Danny Duffy stood at one of four stations, helping kids try their hand at tossing a ball into a bucket. The kids brandished big smiles, watching intently as one child asked Duffy to move the bucket back.
On the child's first throw, the ball whizzed right by the opening in the bucket, grazing the rim.
"You're painting the corners," Duffy called out. "I love it."
That station was a part of the Baseball Fantasy Camp for Kids Clinic, hosted by the Royals. During the event, the children were able to rotate through four stations where they could practice pitching with Duffy, catching with right fielder Paulo Orlando, hitting a ball off a tee with catcher Drew Butera and stealing second base with first-base coach Rusty Kuntz.
"This is a place that they can come out and feel safe enough to use athleticism," Duffy said. "That kind of pure joy is so much fun to see."
In addition to the camps on the field, the children got the opportunity for autographs from a host of Royals players and coaches, including Duffy, Orlando, Butera, Kuntz, bullpen catcher Cody Clark, bullpen coach Doug Henry, Royals Hall of Famer Jeff Montgomery and former Royals outfielder Mitch Maier.
As the event started, the children had their names called to receive personalized jerseys, each smiling as they took them. As the event finished up, the smiles continued.
"We got to hang out with a bunch of kiddos, put some smiles on some faces," Duffy said, "It was a great time."
After the camp, Duffy stayed behind for a few minutes to talk with a group of volunteers, in addition to Deborah Wiebrecht, Executive Director of the Variety Children's Charity.
Duffy talked about the importance of Variety and events like the one the Royals hosted. Beaming from ear to ear, Wiebrecht thanked Duffy for his help.
"It just makes them feel included and like they belong," Wiebrecht said. "[It] gives me chills."
Scott Chasen is a reporter for MLB.com based in Kansas City.