Participating players in the Home Run Derby in Paradise hosted an annual kids’ clinic at the Atlantis resort in Paradise Harbour for aspiring student-athletes. Hundreds of clinic participants were drilled at various skill positions, including hitting, fielding, pitching and base running.
#By RENALDO DORSETT
#Tribune Sports Reporter
#IN addition to the Home Run Derby in Paradise, the participating players hosted its annual kids’ clinic at the Atlantis resort in Paradise Harbour for aspiring student-athletes.
#This year, the partnership with the Charles Johnson Foundation brought with it Major League Baseball’s Play Ball Initiative, the branch of the organisation which hosts kids’ camps around the world.
#Hundreds of clinic participants were drilled at various skill positions, including hitting, fielding, pitching and base running.
#Event co-founders Lucius Fox Jr, of the Tampa Bay Rays, and Todd Isaacs Jr, of the Colorado Rockies, said they hoped to continue to use the event as a means to inspire future players and provide more exposure for Bahamian baseball.
#“It was super exciting to partner with Play Ball and we can’t wait for what will happen in years to come,” Fox said.
#“When I was growing up watching the older guys, I didn’t have to work out or field a grown ball but just being in their presence was special to me. Doing this for the kids, having guys from the major leagues and minor leagues that they watch on TV here present for them to see them, take pictures with them, ask them questions – it’s something we never had. It’s special. We’re just proud to make this event successful for them. It just showed the other kids behind me that it’s possible…hopefully I can make it to the big leagues and inspire the kids even more.”
#Community outreach efforts like the kids’ camp remain a mandate of the group for the further development of the next generation of baseball players.
#Play Ball donated foam-lined baseball equipment for beginners in the game.
#“I just want baseball to grow in the Bahamas. Over the years they’ve been talking about the Dominican Republic and all these Latin American countries, but I know we have the talent. If I can do my part to help the young guys be better than us then I will do just that. It’s never selfish when it comes to us, we just look forward to breaking down as many doors as possible,” Fox said.
#“Our whole goal was just to inspire as many kids as possible. We decided to bring it back to help those kids and also to give the Bahamian people something to enjoy. We always encourage everyone to come out and workout with the pros, interact with them and learn as much as you can. It will certainly be a fun-filled experience.
#“We just wanted to do something for the Bahamian people. The kids are the future, we know that they’re the future, we take it upon ourselves to help them every chance we get.”
#Johnson had a major league career that spanned 11 years across six franchises, most notably the Miami Marlins. The former World Series champion, two-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove winner now spearheads a foundation to increase opportunities for youth through the sport.
#“Through Charles Johnson we made contact with the Play Ball initiative. He’s played in the Major Leagues for a long time so a lot of the relationships with people throughout baseball. When they saw the derby, they saw the kids camp and they were blown away by what we were doing,” Isaacs said.
#“It’s just helping us bring more exposure to the future of baseball here in the Bahamas to see what we have home grown. It’s a beautiful place holding a kids camp on the water with a lot of talented kids. Right off the bat we make an impression. A lot of these guys here are people that the kids can look up to.
#“Hopefully baseball can one day change their lives forever. It’s about having fun, instructing the kids, but at the same time creating a memory and it’s something we want to do every year because I feel like this is the most important part, giving back.”
#Kristian Robinson, the No. 2 prospect in the Arizona Diamondbacks organisation, said he also hopes to serve as an inspiration like the Bahamian trailblazers before him. “Antoan Richardson, Albert Cartwright, we wanted to be like those guys, they came up before us and they gave us a goal to strive toward and we want to be that same thing for the kids in the future,” he said. “Being a part of this, it’s an honour. It’s a fun experience for everyone here, not just the kids but the players too, just to be able to interact with them. Me, I’ve spent a lot of my time in the (United) States this year so coming back and being around the kids and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”