In partnership with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation, Spectrum SportsNet LA hosted 65 children from Los Angeles County, ages nine to 12, for a skills clinic at the Compton MLB Youth Academy, providing t-shirts and caps.
Instruction was led by SportsNet LA analysts and former Dodgers infielders Nomar Garciaparra and Jerry Hairston Jr., along with analyst and former general manager Ned Colletti, SportsNet LA studio host John Hartung, and several trainers who specialize in the field.
The kids were put through various drills, including hitting, throwing, baserunning and infielding stations set up.
Although a focus was on the fundamentals of the game, there was also fun built in. The group of kids each took turns in a Home Run Derby contest, taking their hacks from center field and being rewarded for not only clearing the fence, but earning additional points for distance.
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There was also a chance to test their skills at becoming the next Yasiel Puig by making leaping catches at the wall in right field.
Over in left field, the fence included the jersey numbers and names of those who played at the Compton MLB Youth Academy. Former Dodgers outfielder Trayce Thompson was among them. While the group of kids were implored to have fun with the day, there was a message behind the clinic.
“There’s so many kids that maybe don’t necessarily realize there are these opportunities for them here in this part of the city,” Hartung told DodgerBlue.com.
“What we try to do, Nomar, and Jerry, and all the former Major Leaguers who are out here, they’re trying to give this instruction to these kids and let them know baseball is such an incredible game.
“To be able to come out here and have former big leaguers who accomplished so much, to give them this kind of instruction, I wish I had this kind of instruction available to me when I was a kid. For them to be able to learn from a Major League player is invaluable.”
After hours spent honing their skills, the group were treated to a Q&A session with the SportsNet LA personalities followed by a lunch. But first, there was a final surprise.
Dodgers vice president of external affairs and community relations Naomi Rodriguez informed the children they were going to be treated to Sunday’s game against the Houston Astros. As one might suspect, her announcement drew a rousing applause.
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