Naquin distributes batting gloves to local youth

June 21st, 2022

Reds outfielder Tyler Naquin distributed over 200 premium batting gloves to kids playing in the Knothole City Baseball Tournament at the P&G MLB Cincinnati Reds Youth Academy on Saturday.

Looking for a unique way to give back to the community and inspire young ballplayers, Naquin and BRUCE BOLT, the batting glove company he partners with, came up with the idea earlier this year to give away the gloves.

While Naquin didn’t emulate any particular athletes when he was growing up, he related to the feeling of a youngster wanting to look and feel like a big leaguer.

“I would think it’s kind of like a young kid when they dress up for Halloween and they want to be Superman or Batman or somebody,” he said. “A lot of kids look at these fields and look at us almost like a superhero of some type. We’re just normal people but to be able to wear the same batting gloves that I wear, if that gives a kid an extra little push, that’s what we’re here for.”

Naquin also spoke with the kids and fielded questions about baseball, life and everything in between.

“I don’t have all the answers, but I’ve been through it,” he said. “I never got to hear a big leaguer talk when I was growing up, so being able to give back in this position is huge because some of these kids, they might not have a positive voice in their life. And if one day they can look back and say ‘Hey remember that time Naquin talked to us’ and that resonates every day when they’re facing something hard, then that’s a win.”

Bear Mayer, founder of BRUCE BOLT at just 16 years old, was also in town to help with the event. In 2017, Mayer was just another kid playing baseball and wanted some better batting gloves. So he started BRUCE BOLT, which is now a fully family-owned and operated business based in Austin, Texas.

The first half of the company name is taken directly from his grandfather, Bruce, who was a great ballplayer growing up. As for the bolt? Bruce was struck by lightning twice in his life and lived to tell the story. Bear thought the name BRUCE BOLT fully encapsulated the spirit of his company -- a team that appreciates every day and every moment as an opportunity to compete and be better.

“When I put this company together, my main goal and my dad’s main goal was to be able to give back to our community and the communities around us,” Mayer said. “The more we build these relationships with MLB athletes and they actually wear our gloves, we’ve been able to put together events with different groups and associations like we did here at the Reds Youth Academy.

“It was an extremely rewarding feeling and super cool watching the kids put the gloves on and seeing their reactions. And that’s the goal -- to make these kids feel good about what’s on their hands and show them that we are here for them and want to help them out and be a part of their baseball careers.”

While Naquin is currently sidelined with a left quad injury, it hasn’t stopped him from making the most of his time off the field. In addition to Saturday’s glove giveaway, he made an appearance at a Reds Baseball and Softball Camps visit on Friday. Each weeklong camp includes a trip to Great American Ball Park at the end of the week where the kids get to take part in baseball and softball fundamentals on the same field the Reds play on. Naquin helped make their big league day extra special by participating in an exclusive Q&A.

After his scheduled time was up, Naquin stayed even longer and encouraged more questions from the older players who were getting close to high school. He wound up taking questions that afternoon for over 45 minutes.

“It can be a process going from middle school to high school,” he said. “You can be unsure of yourself in everything you do and question your ability, especially in a game like this which is a game of failure. So if they can hear some words from someone who has made it and been through it, it’s easier to process it.”