It was a perfect Saturday morning on May 25th for baseball and what better diamond to play on but the one at Nationals Park.
AMC 6D Commissioner Ron McBee, Coach Dino, and myself met about 25 kids at the King Greenleaf Recreation Center and walked over to the stadium. Upon arrival, each of the kids were checked in and given a Nationals baseball cap before entering the stadium. Once inside, the kids were broken up into groups and headed out to the field to loosen up. They stretched with Nationals trainer Steve Gober and ran bases with first base coach Tony Tarasco. The infield was roped off as it was being prepared for the evening game against Philadelphia, so everyone used the outfield.
Next, everyone took ground balls in center field with 3B coach Trent Jewett followed by fly balls in right field with bench coach Randy Knorr. The kids also shagged pop flies and practiced playing fly balls off the outfield wall.
Next in the rotation was throwing in the bullpen with the trio Steve McCatty, Jim Lett, and Octavio Martinez. I must admit, sitting in the bullpen was pretty exciting as I watched the kids throw some pitches.
Next up, everyone followed along the Warning Track into the Nationals dugout for a water break and it was time to talk nutrition with Steve Gober. He spoke about staying healthy and answered questions about his life.
The kids received some batting Instruction, such as not to crowd the plate and how to improve their swing.
Once the activities on the field had ended, everyone was invited to have lunch by the picnic area and ate turkey or ham sandwiches with carrots and a drink.
The day wasn’t quite over yet as Roger Bernadina took a seat and signed autographs for the kids (and the adults) and we were given tickets to Sunday’s game against our rivals, the Phillies.
At the game on Sunday, highlights of Saturday’s clinic were shown on the screen and King Greenleaf was announced as part of the festivities. Our community kids had a wonderful time running the field, learning about team sportsmanship and got to spend a morning doing what most kids dream of, which is taking the field at a big league park.
Isn’t that what it’s all about?
Thanks to the Washington Nationals coaches, players, staff, and especially Coach Dino and Ron McBee who helped make this day special for our neighborhood kids.
By Bruce DarConte