MLB Alumni Association hosts clinic for DC kids

Former big leaguers spread love of game with local youth

WASHINGTON -- For Scott McGregor, spreading the gospel of baseball is simply the circle of life.

The former Orioles All-Star, who played all 13 seasons of his big league career for Baltimore, joined fellow members of the Major League Baseball Alumni Association at the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy on Saturday morning. Around 80 grade-school children with their small gloves and big dreams joined them on the field and in the batting cages.

The goals for the adults involved were simple: Teach the next generation how to play the game and hope their love for the sport rubs off.

"When I was a kid growing up in El Segundo, California, the coach used to take us to down to the Dodgers and Angels," said McGregor, who played on the same high school team with future Baseball Hall of Fame third baseman George Brett. "They had clinics in the offseason. We'd be sitting right in front of them. Me and Georgie Brett."

McGregor won 138 games during his big league career and was the winning pitcher in the clinching game of the 1983 World Series for Baltimore. He credits some of those early instructions from real life baseball players for helping his growth.

"[Brett would] sit there and listen to the hitters and I'd listen to the pitchers. They would just talk about their craft and try to help us any way they can," McGregor said. "I realize some of the younger guys here, they're not at that level yet, but it meant a lot to me when I was there so I just feel like I owe to the kids to share what we learned. Hopefully it helps them."

Other former Major League players spending their Saturday morning at the third annual Legends for Youth clinic at the Southeast, D.C. facility included Steve Lombardozzi, Rick Krivda, Jerry Cram and Michael O'Connor. Alumni served as instructors at different stations where kids were taught the basics on hitting, fielding and pitching plus life lessons.

"I think it's a wonderful opportunity that our Major League Baseball Alumni Association is able to get in front of groups like this," said Lombardozzi, a former infielder who played six seasons in the bigs. "It gives the kids another perspective about Major League Baseball. All they see is what's on TV. You have guys that are older, more experienced. I think the guys do a good job relating to kids. It's about baseball, but it's about life to."

Similar free events are held around the country. This one held extra meaning for O'Connor, who grew up in the extended Maryland suburbs, played collegiately in the city at George Washington University and spent parts of two seasons with the Nationals.

"This is definitely a first class facility. It's great that the Nats built this place," said O'Connor, who still lives in the area.

As for those life lessons, O'Connor said, "Baseball is definitely a game that can be pretty frustrating. I think a lot of times the younger kids want that immediate satisfaction of things. I think [baseball] really helps with persistence and learning how to handle failure. Life is not always easy."

It's easy to see why these former professional athletes show up for such events. Baseball didn't just help provide a future career but helped positively shape their lives from early on.

"I grew up in a town that was just baseball-mania. It was huge," McGregor said. "A complex like this is just incredible. I've never seen anything like this. This is a great opportunity. It's still America's game and you want to see these kids enjoy it."