The mystique surrounding the history of American baseball is part of what makes visiting a Major League park so special. A fortunate group of Detroit area youngsters can now say that they know what it’s like to play in the big leagues. A game-day conditioned field at Comerica Park was home to the Chevrolet Youth Baseball Clinic on May 17, 2014.
As “The Official Vehicle of Major League Baseball”, Chevrolet initiated a grassroots community outreach program geared towards merging our youth with America’s favorite pastime. In it’s ninth year of existence, the program has helped raise nearly $20 million dollars for youth baseball leagues, as well as provided equipment kits and apparel.
The providers of all on-field instruction, Cal Ripken Baseball Inc., noted that throughout the span of the day they had worked with nearly 400 youth baseball players. “Anytime you get to be on the big league field like this with these kids, you could be having the worst day, and once your here, it doesn’t matter” said Operations Coordinator Matt Rowland. Scheduled as a half day event serving two groups, players were given the opportunity to walk the field, run the bases and enjoy the dugout during rest periods.
Matt went on to say “I wish I had this in my hometown when I was growing up”. Members of the PAL LoveTrain baseball organization were provided hitting nets, batting tees and baseball buckets. Coach Ron Bailey was ecstatic to hear his player’s reaction to practicing on the big stage, “They went out there and they absolutely loved it” he said.
Stations systematically placed in different areas of the field allowed for complete isolation and demonstration of a variety of baseball fundamentals. Rowland and his team assign players to stations concentrating on infield play, outfield play and effective base running. The LoveTrain girls spent 20 minutes at each station with Rowland, learning the basics of handling and swinging a bat, as well as proper gripping when throwing a baseball.
The conclusion of the event brought standard ballpark refreshments and commemorative Chevrolet shirts for all participants. After filling out a ballot, attendees were also entered into a draw for the chance to win a 2014 Chevrolet Malibu. Admittedly, most youth won’t be spending the rest of their lives hitting home runs playing baseball, but thanks to Chevrolet and the Detroit Tigers these young hopefuls have been given a nice head start.