Baseball fest features clinic, skills competition, parents seminar
By Chad Thornburg
GARDENA, Calif. -- Many past, present and future Los Angeles-area baseball stars gathered Sunday afternoon at Junipero Serra High School for the inaugural Community Baseball Fest, which celebrated the development of local youth through the sport.
The event commemorated the 10th year of the LA Rockstars Baseball Club, a subsidiary of the Inglewood Baseball Fund. The Rockstars provide a competitive travel baseball program for players in Los Angeles County with an aim toward preparing them to play in high school.
Hall of Famer Dave Winfield and a number of prep, collegiate and Minor League players who previously played for the Rockstars -- including Mets' No. 2 prospect Dominic Smith, who is knocking at the door of the big leagues, and Hunter Greene, the potential top pick in June's Draft -- were in attendance.
"It had a big impact on me growing up off the field," said Smith, who played with the Rockstars from age 12 until high school. "And as you can see, the turnout today, all the prospects that came out, the college guys, it just goes to show that baseball, off the field, is a close-knit family."
"I've been a part of the Rockstar family since I was really young; it's a great, great family to be a part of," Greene added.
The community fest also honored the 2013 Serra Cavaliers championship team and recognized this year's Inglewood Baseball Fund "Coaching Impact" and "Community Impact" award recipients. It also featured a showcase for top players, a baseball clinic, a skills competition and a college-recruiting seminar for parents.
"I tell the kids, 'It's not just about trying to be a professional baseball player,'" Winfield said. "If you play the sport, parents are supporting the kids and you have an environment where it's safe and protective, you can grow and be healthy and nurtured.
"There's certain areas where it means a whole lot to the community, and this Inglewood area is one of them."
Similar to the Urban Youth Academy in Compton, the Rockstars provide coaching and instruction to local youth who might not otherwise have access to it. They also promote diversity in baseball as one of the only Los Angeles County travel teams featuring predominantly minority players.
"The challenges with baseball, it's not an inexpensive sport to be able to train, get exposure," said Erikk Aldridge, LA Rockstars founder. "For people to see you, it takes resources, so oftentimes a lot of kids that we work with don't have all those resources. We put in some infrastructure so that a kid doesn't have to miss playing in a tournament or going to a showcase because he can't afford it."
Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.