Graveman talks math and baseball with kids

A's starter happily takes part in STEM on-field clinic

Graveman talks math and baseball with kids

OAKLAND -- A's starter Kendall Graveman was more than happy to sign autographs, take pictures and strike up conversation with kids at Tuesday's on-field clinic at the Coliseum hosted by the Athletics and Chevron.

Then he took a quick break to do the same with one his idols, Tony La Russa, who helped out at the event and posed for pictures with the A's 1989 World Series trophy.

"I felt like a kid again when I got to meet him," said Graveman, who had La Russa sign a baseball for him.

La Russa, Graveman, Vida Blue, Ron Washington and others close to the A's organization came out to meet and assist 100 Richmond Little Leaguers on Tuesday to support STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) learning and sports science.

Graveman said he appreciates people who respect the game, so he was thrilled to meet La Russa. He added that he does his best to make sure he's someone young baseball fans can look up to.

"I try to do the same to these kids," Graveman said. "They're excited to be out here, and to be genuine and to be sincere when I meet them. If they ask for an autograph or a picture, to be able to say yeah."

Graveman wasn't randomly selected for this event. He studied mechanical engineering at Mississippi State and is a STEM supporter. He avidly studies the connection between baseball and engineering, a relationship those at the event tried to convey to the kids.

"We track spin, and how we track velocity on a pitch and how we track the distance that you see on SportsCenter," Graveman said. "You see that ball carried 440 feet, well that's engineering and that's math. That's one of the things I can think on maybe a little bit of a deeper basis than some guys, because I've got a background in it. "

While Graveman met Little Leaguers in the outfield, former Athletic Willie McGee taught them how to hit in the infield, at one of many stations set up around the Coliseum.

"Keep your feet still, get wider, boom!" he instructed one aspiring slugger.

Rhonda Morris, vice president of human resources for Downstream, Chevron, grew up in Oakland, and has been a lifelong A's fan.

For her, Tuesday was a chance to bridge two of her favorite things -- baseball and education -- and inspire kids to develop similar passions.

"For us to have the opportunity to take kids who are really passionate about baseball and Little League and connect that to learning and education and science and technology and math is absolutely fantastic," Morris said.

Trevor Hass is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.