SAN DIEGO -- On a Sunday afternoon when the Padres were out of town facing the Cubs, there was still baseball being played on the field at Petco Park. In this case, it was the Legends for Youth Baseball Clinic put on by the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association for close to 250 lucky Little Leaguers.
Former Major League greats such as Cy Young Award winner Randy Jones, two-time All Star Blue Moon Odom and longtime Padres hitting coach Merv Rettenmund participated in the clinic to teach kids some baseball fundamentals in hitting, fielding, pitching, running, and general life skills. Other former players participating in the two-hour clinic were two-time World Series champion Jay Johnstone, Kurt Bevacqua, Craig Chamberlain, Gene Locklear, Jim Merritt, Phil Ouellette, Gary Ryerson and Derrel Thomas.
The clinic took place on the outfield grass at Petco Park, and after the kids grouped together by age, they rotated around a variety of stations, each manned by two of the alumni players. The children enthusiastically ran from station to station, eager to participate in the next set of drills and learn from the former Major Leaguers who were excited to give back to the community.
Jones, who is well-known in the San Diego community due to his involvement with the Padres and his local barbeque restaurant success, received the biggest ovation when the alumni players were introduced to the kids and parents before the clinic began. He set up shop in the visitors' bullpen to instruct the kids of pitching basics, but also focus on some throwing techniques. Jones said it was all about teaching each kid at least one thing they could take home with them to improve their game.
"It's all about giving back," Jones said. "You want to come out here and help these kids, and hopefully they'll retain a few of the things you teach them. That's how they're going to get better is to keep coming to these types of camps and learning."
Rettenmund said the excitement for baseball in San Diego was noticeable due to some of the things the Padres have been doing on and off the field, and he could feel that carrying into the clinic.
"Any time Major League Baseball calls, or the Padres call, you try to participate in something," Rettenmund said. "I think the nice thing right now is the enthusiasm level around the city. I think that's why we have such a great turnout here. We will just go over one or two things with the kids, and not get into it too deep. We'll use the facilities as allowed.
"It will be fun. I think these kids just get a thrill for being on the field."
At the end of the clinic, each of the alumni players took the time to sign autographs for the kids, who received a baseball to have signed -- a memento from a special day that the kids will not soon forget.
Tim Powers is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.