Major Leaguers brought their City Clinics instructional program to veterans and their families in Arizona and Texas in the weeks following the regular season – and sandwiched between the Veterans Day holiday.
Chris Capuano, A.J. Griffin, Donnie Murphy and Eric Young, Jr. took part in a clinic held in Phoenix on Nov. 7, sharing their love for the game with 65 kids whose dads, moms and other relatives have served in the U.S. military.
“The City Clinics give Major League players a chance to really connect with boys and girls one on one in a fun and relaxed atmosphere, sharing the game we love and providing encouragement,” said Capuano, a participant in the program since its inception in 2008.
Clinic attendees were provided with two hours’ instruction from the players, who were assisted by coaches from the local community, followed by a Q&A with the players. All the kids received a new glove in addition to memories that will last a lifetime.
“This particular clinic in the Phoenix area featured military families, and I speak for all the players who participated when I say it was a special honor to be able to thank them for their service and hopefully give back to them in a small but meaningful way,” Capuano said.
The following week, a clinic was held for 120 more kids in Arlington with the help of Brandon Bantz, Vic Black, Mitchell Hansen, Corey Knebel, Ross Ohlendorf, Drew VerHagen and Pedro Villarreal.
The Players Trust established the City Clinics program to bring baseball to disadvantaged kids in inner cities. This was the first year that the players serving on the Players Trust board of advisors decided to designate two of its clinics for a different underserved population — military families.
“We appreciate all the work that veterans have done for us to give us freedom,” said Ohlendorf, a pitcher on the Rangers. “To have the ability to give back as a baseball player and hold a clinic for their children, it’s very exciting”
The Trust partnered with two military support organizations — Defending the Base Line and Team Red, White and Blue – to bring the clinics to Phoenix and Arlington, Texas.
“With no end in sight for deployments related to the continued war on terror, the kids in our program have a lot of stress in their lives,” said Shane Hudella, founder of the military support organization Defending the Base Line.
“For a couple of hours the past two Saturdays, however, our military kids were able to forget about their worries and play the game they love, all while getting an opportunity to meet some great pro baseball players.”
Defending the Baseline has enabled thousands of youth of servicemen and veterans to attend camps, clinics and MLB games free of charge to enjoy America’s pastime with their families. For more information please visit http://www.defendingtheblueline.org/page/show/2088773-baseball.
Team Red White and Blue is a non-profit organization, which enriches veterans’ lives by leveraging the power of physical and social activity. For more information please visit http://www.teamrwb.org/.
To read more about the Players Trust City Clinics program, or to view photos from our gallery please visit www.playerstrust.org/cityclinics