CarGo & Co. teach youngsters to Play Ball

CarGo & Co. teach youngsters to Play Ball

DENVER -- As part of the inaugural Play Ball Weekend, a league-wide effort by MLB and all 30 clubs to engage young baseball fans and celebrate youth participation in baseball and softball, the Colorado Rockies and Root Sports hosted a baseball clinic at the Boys & Girls Club of Owen on Saturday morning.

One-hundred and seventy-four boys and girls, ages 10 to 12, participated in the clinic in which Rockies players Carlos Gonzalez, Gerardo Parra, Cristhian Adames, Carlos Estevez and Scott Oberg taught the fundamentals of hitting, pitching, fielding and baserunning.

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"It's fun. I always have a blast being around these kids," said Gonzalez. "It reminds be that baseball is about having fun and just going to the yard and not worrying about anything else, just playing. Even when you play professionally, you still want to have that in your mind and remember that whenever you take the field, there are a lot of kids watching."

Rockies broadcasters Drew Goodman and Jeff Huson as well as several other volunteers from Root Sports also helped put on the event, participating in the clinic and donating baseballs for each participating child to take home.

The kids broke up into groups and took turns at different stations at Andres Galarraga Field, getting personal instruction on the finer points of the game from big league ballplayers.

"Play Ball is a great idea," said Mica Becker of the Boys & Girls Club of Loveland. "For one, it gets kids off the couch and away from texting and playing video games and gets them outside playing sports. And sometimes that can give them a different opportunity to go on with baseball and softball, maybe get a scholarship and get that education. This could be the catalyst to propel them to do that."

Gonzalez said the event evoked memories of when he was a youngster learning the game.

"I remember my great days in Little League, playing with some good players like King Felix [Hernandez] when I was little, and also Gerardo Parra," Gonzalez said. "This is something that takes you back to great memories of when you were young.

"I think Play Ball Weekend is a tremendous idea by Major League Baseball. You just get to make sure that all these kids stay away from trouble and just play the game no matter what. And for us, we're just trying to educate these kids and just keep them in the game, because this is a great sport, and it's continuing to grow."

Play Ball Weekend is an extension of the Play Ball initiative, which launched last year as the sport's biggest effort to encourage widespread participation in both formal and casual baseball and softball activities.

Each participant in Saturday's event received a plastic bat and ball set to take home, as well as tickets to Sunday's game between the Rockies and Mets at Coors Field.

Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.