MLBPAA holds Legends for Youth baseball clinic

MLBPAA holds Legends for Youth baseball clinic

COSTA MESA, Calif. -- Former Major Leaguers took the field once again Saturday, but this time it was to show local kids the finer points of baseball.

Twenty-four former big leaguers participated in the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association (MLBPAA) Legends for Youth baseball clinic at Vanguard University.

The clinic (one of 110 nationwide) featured 213 kids -- ages 6 to 16 -- to go along with the 24 players, who combined for 180 years, 10,055 games, 5,709 hits and nine World Series championships.

The former players, which included six-time All-Star and former California Angel Bobby Grich and 1976 National League Cy Young Award winner Randy Jones, were split up into seven stations, teaching baserunning, fielding, catching and pitching, among other skills.

"You just see the joy on young people's faces," Grich said. "Really, some of these young kids, the parents know me more than the kids do. They're all very grateful we come out and it's just fun to have a great afternoon with them. It's just pure enjoyment, so why not? It's just a lot of fun."

Grich, a second baseman, was stationed in the infield and worked with the youngsters on fielding grounders, while Jones and former Oakland A's pitcher Blue Moon Odom taught kids how to throw the ball accurately.

"As a retired player, you want to stay associated with Major League Baseball," Grich said. "It brings back great memories and you get a chance to see a lot of other ex-players."

Each age group spent about 15 minutes at each station before Grich finished up the clinic with a talk about life skills. Grich used the acronym ANGELS (Attitude, No Negativity, Goals, Energy and Enthusiasm, Laughter and Smile) to advise the kids about their future.

"Smile because you're going to be a success either as a big leaguer or as the president of a company," Grich said.

Riley Mitchell, 12, from Costa Mesa, said he enjoyed the baserunning part of the clinic most, but he also learned how to turn a double play and hit his target with a throw.

After Grich's short speech, the players lined up to sign autographs and take pictures with the kids.

The autograph session was the highlight of the day for 6-year-old Sean Lucas from Placentia, but he also said he learned how to line up his knuckles when batting.

Grich, who works the Orange County clinic annually, said coming back and teaching reminds him of his playing days.

"We tell some stories, good memories come up," Grich said. "It's amazing how vivid guys' memories are when you get together and we all had good laughs over it. It's just a lot of fun."

More than 15,000 children participate in the Legends for Youth clinics annually, and the MLBPAA has expanded its reach internationally to Australia, Canada, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, the United Kingdom and Venezuela.

Matthew DeFranks is an associate reporter for Follow him on Twitter @MDeFranks. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.