Baseball Clinic a Hit with Kids

Former Major League baseball players say parents need to promote baseball with their sons to increase their interest in the game.

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Note: This article appears on Pioneer Press’ Elm Leaves website, http://elmwoodpark.suntimes.com/sports/13183384-419/baseball-clinic-a-hit-with-kids.html

By Kevin Beese

Contributor

Video games may be keeping your son from a multimillion-dollar deal, according to men who played baseball at the game’s highest level.

Kids spending their summer on the couch with a joystick in hand instead of in the neighborhood park with a bat in hand is hampering the national pastime, according to members of the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association who assembled at Triton College on June 9 for a youth baseball clinic.

When asked what needs to be done to get youth back focused on baseball, former Chicago Cubs pitcher Mike Remlinger, who pitched 14 years in the big leagues and made the 2002 National League All-Star team, simply said, “Get rid of video games.”

“I would think the contracts these guys are getting today would get parents initiating their sons getting involved in baseball,” said Milt Pappas, who pitched for the Cubs, Baltimore Orioles, Cincinnati Reds and Atlanta Braves during his 17-year career. “When you see guys making $10 million, $15 million a year, that should be incentive enough.

“When I started in 1957, the minimum salary was $6,000. Now it is $480,000. If you can play one of two years in the Major Leagues, you are set.”

Pappas, the last player to throw a no-hitter at Wrigley Field (Sept. 2, 1972), said he remembers playing sandlot baseball as a youth from morning until the street lights came on at night.

“But there are girls and so many other interests that boys have now,” Pappas lamented. “It’s sad.”

The clinic, sponsored by Hanover Insurance Group, gave Pappas reason for hope though.

“It’s great to see,” Pappas said of the 150 youth gathered for the clinic. “The American youth is still interested in baseball.”

Pappas said by parents promoting the game, it will filter down to their sons. Continuing to follow a Major League team will keep attention on the game within a family and help foster a love of the sport with youth, Pappas stated.

John Martin, who won two World Series titles, was running a fielding drill and complimented Matthew Jensen of Schaumburg on his footwork.

Jensen listened attentively and then went to the back of the line.

“These guys have the experience,” Jensen said, when asked about being praised by a former big leaguer. “These guys have been there, put the work in and know what they are talking about.”

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