NEW YORK -- As any New York City resident with a baseball glove and a MetroCard knows, finding a vacant field within the five boroughs is not always easy.
As one of 30 Major League teams seeking to grow youth baseball in their local area, the Mets are hoping to solve that problem for some Queens children this summer. The team is partnering with the Flushing YMCA to provide a pair of baseball camps for local children, running from July 13-17 and Aug. 10-14.
The Flushing YMCA has long offered various sports camps to its members, but never one focused on baseball. So the Mets worked with that branch and the New York City Parks Department to organize a program that will bus children from the YMCA to Flushing Meadows Corona Park, where Mets head groundskeeper Bill Deacon has already made multiple visits to offer tips on field upkeep. As part of their relationship with Flushing Meadows, the Mets are also donating some of the dirt that they use at Citi Field when it rains, allowing the park to better maintain its field surfaces.
"We're hopeful that this is going to expose kids who wouldn't normally have the opportunity to play baseball or softball," Mets director of communications Danielle Parillo said, "give them the chance to get their feet wet, and hopefully grow their love for the game."
Children attending the camps will participate in baseball drills each morning, followed by games in the afternoons. Though the Mets are on a road trip during the July session, the team hopes to recruit several players and coaches for guest appearances in August. During both sessions, members of the front office will help run the camp while training YMCA employees to do the same.
The hope is that the initiative will wind up being more than just a one-year event, allowing the Mets to cultivate the game in their own backyard.
"We're hopeful the program will grow in future years," Parillo said. "This is the first time that we've been involved in a baseball camp like this, so we have high hopes for the future."
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.