Former big leaguers tutor youth at Hall
Children learn baseball fundamentals from men who played
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- Nine-year-old Katelyn Jenkins, wearing a Baltimore Orioles cap and a pink High School Musical T-shirt, got in a bunting position and winced when the first few balls came toward her, missing contact.
So Fred Cambria, a former Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher who had some Major League at-bats, reminded Jenkins to "let the ball hit the bat."
Jenkins followed his advice on the next pitch, and the one after that, and the one after that, until Cambria said, "Good job!" and gave her a high-five. It was a moment like that which made the Legends for Youth Skills Clinic at Doubleday Field on Friday afternoon, one of the many Hall of Fame Weekend events, memorable for Cambria.
"That made my day right there," Cambria said, "because I made her happy."
Cambria was one of several former big league players -- part of the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association -- who were instructors during the annual clinic, which taught approximately 200 children ages five to 12 years old.
The youngsters were taught the basics at seven stations for about two hours, learning everything from fielding ground balls to baserunning to catching fly balls.
Seven-year-old Alex Taylor came from New Berlin, Wisc., and he said his favorite station was the one in which he was taught the mechanics of throwing and playing catch.
"They told me to make sure you step forward, where you want to throw the ball," said Taylor, wearing a Boston Red Sox cap.
Former Yankees infielder Pat Kelly taught the basics of hitting stances at his station, emphasizing bent knees and a balanced approach. He quizzed the players about the rules at the plate and explained why certain ballplayers did things their way.
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"Where do you get your power from?" Kelly asked, then eventually answering, "Your back legs."
The youngsters received a primer on catching fly balls from former Yankees outfielder Ross Moschitto, who said he's participated in the clinic for the past four years.
"This whole thing is about fundamentals, but also showing them a sense of sportsmanship and competition," he said.
Former New York Mets pitcher Galen Cisco taught the basics of pitching, stressing a higher knee kick and leading the throw with the front hip.
After a tutorial, Cisco asked if any player in his group was a pitcher, and 11-year-old Matthew Ogozaly raised his hand. Cisco had Ogozaly show the group what he learned, and Ogazaly wound up, kicked his leg high and pointed his front foot toward the plate.
"You were looking at your toes there at the end," Cisco told Ogazaly. "You have to look at the catcher's glove."
Cisco asked him to show his delivery again, and this one was more successful.
"There you go, much better," Cisco said.
Willie Bans is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.