2013-07-25 / News

Old Major League pros coming to town

By Margo Sullivan

Former Boston Red Sox manager Joe Morgan teaches some youngsters the fundamentals at a Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association Clinic at Boston Common in April. 
Bill Wilk/Longwood Giving Former Boston Red Sox manager Joe Morgan teaches some youngsters the fundamentals at a Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association Clinic at Boston Common in April. Bill Wilk/Longwood Giving The lineup is yet to be announced, but some retired professional baseball players and coaches are headed to Jamestown next month when the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association puts on a free clinic and cookout for the youngsters.

This is the first year Jamestown will host a Legends for Youth, according to Jill Goldstein, program director for the Recreation Department. She said Bill Wilk, Jamestown’s newest resident, dropped by her office a few months ago and asked if the town would be interested. He is the executive director of Longwood Giving.

Definitely, she replied. “The kids are going to love this,” said Goldstein.

Originally, the rec department wanted to hold the clinic during the summer baseball program, but the scheduling did not permit.

The clinic is Thursday, Aug. 15. Sign-in is at 9 a.m. and the event runs from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Lawn Avenue baseball fields.

The best part? Everything is free, Goldstein said. Longwood Giving and the town are co-sponsoring the event.

The children are expected to wear comfortable clothes, Goldstein said, and to bring sneakers or plastic baseball cleats. If they own a glove, they can bring it along, but they don’t need to bring a bat.

The clinic is limited to 250 kids. It is open to girls and boys, ages 6 to 16, from Newport, North Kingstown and Jamestown. Registration is required, Goldstein said, and a waiver releasing the town from liability for injuries or damages is also mandatory. All the forms are due by Aug. 9.

Parents can sign their children up by going online to the rec department’s homepage on the town’s website. For more info, parents can call Goldstein at 423- 7260.

Registration forms and waivers are also available at the rec center.

Wilk moved to Jamestown three weeks ago and will be a year-round resident. He knew in March he was moving to the island, and he wanted to do something to “give back” to his new community. He settled on Jamestown for a number of reasons, he said.

Wilk grew up on Long Island, and he says Jamestown reminded him of a summer haunt, Shelter Island. He also has three children and feels the local schools are excellent.

Longwood Events, which is associated with Longwood Giving, owns Belle Mer on Goat Island.

Wilk said that’s why he first brought the baseball clinic to the Newport area. They bring clinics to communities where Longwood Events has a venue.

On April 27, Wilk hosted one in Boston, with the mayor’s office. Another clinic followed on July 16 with the Harwich Mariners in Harwich, Cape Cod. The Jamestown clinic will be the third this summer. Last year, the clinic was in Newport. Former Red Sox manager Joe Morgan attended the camp.

Bill “Spaceman” Lee, the former Red Sox pitcher, and infielder Kevin Youkilis have also participated in the past at various locations.

The organization usually waits until the day before the clinic to announce the names of the old pros attending, he said.

Their parents will remember the MLB alumni, even though the children may not recognize the names, he said. In any case, Goldstein said it’s a great day for baseball. The event is advertised as a baseball clinic and life lessons from former Major League Baseball players, and it lives up to the billing, according to Wilk.

“It is awesome,” he said.

The players teach the children the basics of the game. The instruction lasts between 90 minutes and two hours and follows a familiar format. The children will rotate among stations to work on skills. There will be six to nine stations.

Afterwards, the old pros will tell stories, answer questions and sign autographs.

All the youngsters get a “Life is Good” hat. There’s also a cookout.

Oh yes, there are some rules, but they’re mostly for the adults to follow. Basically, the parents are expected to stay off the field and let the kids play, he said.

“We try to keep the parents away from everything,” Wilk said.

The adults are invited to enjoy some cool drinks – Polar Beverages is providing a tasting station for the whole family.

Wilk has been involved with youth baseball clinics for about 10 years. He started at the Roberto Clemente Sports City in Puerto Rico. When he moved back to the Boston area, he connected with Longwood Events and decided to start baseball clinics about three years ago through Longwood Giving.

Since 2011, Longwood Giving has reached over 2,000 children with these clinics, according to Wilk.

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