Youth get baseball essentials at clinic
Current, former Dodgers on hand at Urban Youth Academy
COMPTON, Calif. -- About 250 local children had a chance to participate in a baseball and softball clinic on Saturday with current and former Los Angeles Dodgers at the kickoff event for Major League Baseball's 60th Anniversary celebration of Jackie Robinson joining the Major Leagues.Youth from the ages of 8 to 14 from MLB's Urban Youth Academy and MLB's Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program were excited to work with Dodgers players Marlon Anderson and Juan Pierre, former Dodgers "Sweet" Lou Johnson, Ken Landreaux, Rudy Law and Don Newcombe and Hall of Famer Frank Robinson at the clinic. Jackie Robinson's daughter, Sharon Robinson, who is also MLB's Educational Consultant, was on hand for the clinic and visited with the children. The clinic took place at the MLB Urban Youth Academy's baseball fields. The celebration weekend will culminate with Jackie Robinson Day events at ballparks around the country on Sunday, with the national 60th Anniversary celebration taking place at Dodger Stadium prior to their game with the San Diego Padres. Pierre is looking forward to the Jackie Robinson Day celebration, as all of the Dodgers will wear No. 42. "It's awesome, to put that Dodger jersey on that he wore it's almost like a dream come true, he's why I'm where I'm at today and I owe him a lot of gratitude," said Pierre. Anderson also is looking forward to the honor. "It's huge for me, being able to wear the No. 42 on the Dodger uniform on that day," Anderson said. "It's definitely a blessing, I feel lucky to be one of the guys to get a chance to do it. Just being able to be on this team during this big event, it's a privilege, it's definitely an honor." Pierre and Anderson were happy to work with the kids at the clinic. "It's always good to give back to the community, especially with the kids," said Pierre. "This is the future so we're trying to get them excited about playing baseball again and to tie in the message of Jackie Robinson and add awareness of him in the youth today." Pierre was teaching the kids base-running skills at his station of the clinic and said he reminded them to "touch the base, always touch the base." "I [didn't accomplish anything] if they don't touch the bases, so that's my main thing," Pierre said. Anderson enjoyed helping the kids improve their infielding skills at his station.
"It's fun having a chance to give back, to come out here and just encourage kids," said Anderson. "The theme is baseball, but I think it's more about life than anything -- to encourage them to work hard at whatever it is they do, and enjoy playing the game."This is a great facility for baseball, I wish I had something like this when I was growing up. It's just good to be out here and be amongst the kids." Cy Brown, 13, from Long Beach, Calif., is a participant in the Urban Youth Academy's baseball programs and took part in the Jackie Robinson Day clinic. "It was great, I liked having all the Dodgers here, it was really fun," Brown said. Brown has been playing baseball since he was four years old and he enjoyed getting advice from the Dodgers players. "I learned how to throw better, but I've still got to practice on that," he said. Brown said his favorite part of the clinic was the hitting station. He enjoyed the clinic because it gave him a chance to continue improving his skills. "My goal right now is to make it to college ball, and then after that make it to the Minor Leagues and Major Leagues," he said. Brown's father, Michael Brown, encouraged his son to try baseball and has coached him since he began playing. "The clinic is awesome, it's just an opportunity for all the inner-city kids and it's a beautiful thing for the Major League Baseball players to take their time to come out," he said. The older Brown said he especially enjoyed hearing Newcombe speak to the kids. "Man, Newcombe was the one for me, when he told the story about Jackie Robinson," said Brown. "Jackie Robinson was a little bit before my time, but I most definitely knew about him and his legacy. It was just an honor for me to watch my son be involved in something of a magnitude like this." He said he appreciates having the Urban Youth Academy nearby and that his son is able to participate in its programs. "I can be assured that these guys that are running the program take good care of [my son]," he said. "They're doing more than baseball with them, they're doing homework labs, and just showing him how to be a young man and walk the proper way of life."
Christie Cowles is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.