Rangers show kids benefit of PLAY at ballpark

Chirinos, Holland pitch in to show children importance of healthy lifestyle

ARLINGTON -- When Rangers catcher Robinson Chirinos was growing up in Punto Fijo, Venezuela, he never had the chance to take batting practice with a Major League baseball player and spend time learning from them.

Saturday morning at Globe Life Park, approximately 140 kids got that opportunity, as the Rangers hosted the National PLAY (Promoting a Lifetime of Activity for Youth) Campaign, teaching the importance of a healthy and active lifestyle for children.

"I think as a baseball player, you can never forget where you come from. To be able to have the chance to help these kids learn something today, it's a blessing," Chirinos said. "You make those kids' days when you come out here and throw batting practice. You can see the smile on the kids, they were so happy. So for me, it's something that I do with my heart."

Chirinos stressed the importance to the kids of not losing passion for the game, and to remember days like Saturday. That's something he's also taught to his 8-year-old son, David.

"I never had this chance when I was 8 years old. I just want to teach him to not take anything for granted, to show respect and learn the most he can from these players," Chirinos said.

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PLAY is a public awareness campaign of the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society and works in conjunction with the Taylor Hooton Foundation and the Henry Schein Cares Foundation.

"It's a fantastic way to get a bunch of kids out on the field to enjoy our second home," said Rangers athletic trainer Matt Lucero. "It's a way to educate the parents and the kids on ways to stay healthy and stay active -- whether it's nutrition, sleep or staying away from performance-enhancing drugs.

The Taylor Hooton Foundation began getting involved with the PLAY campaigns in 2008. The non-profit organization looks to educate children on the dangers of performance-enhancing drugs.

Coming to Globe Life Park has a special meaning to the foundation's president, Don Hooton Sr.

Don's youngest son, Taylor, the namesake of the foundation, played baseball at Plano West High, approximately 30 minutes from the stadium. Taylor took his own life in 2003, resulting from depression after taking anabolic steroids.

"There's a little more passion when I come here, because I think it has more meaning to the parents," Don said. "I tell them, 'We're just from Plano, just around the corner from here. This is real.'"

Since being created in 2004, the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society has held over 150 PLAY events inside all 30 Major-League stadiums.

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