McCutchen, Walker, other Pirates lure kids to free baseball clinic
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Devontae Hampton's smile stretched from ear-to-ear.
The 9-year-old McKeesport boy had just caught a fly ball from Andrew McCutchen, was shown how to throw a fastball by Joel Hanrahan and fielded ground balls from Neil Walker.
There were about 250 more children from at least 15 local communities who had that same smile.
The Major League Baseball Players Association: Players Trust charitable organization, in partnership with the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation and Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities Pittsburgh — assisted by the Boys and Girls Club and the McKeesport Youth Baseball Organization — conducted a free youth coaching clinic Tuesday at Helen Richey Field. A record number of kids attended.
“What an absolute incredible turn out,” said Bobby McCaffrey, Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation assistant director of program operations. “We do this clinic all around the country and this was, by far, the most kids we ever had. It was absolutely amazing.”
Boys and girls ages 8 to 15 from McKeesport, White Oak, Glassport, Liberty Boro, Port Vue, Elizabeth, Mt. Vernon, Turtle Creek, Chalfant, East Pittsburgh, Duquesne, Wilkinsburg, Braddock, Clairton, Homewood, North Huntingdon and Irwin, among others, took part in the three-hour instructional clinic.
“If this was a weekend, we would have gotten even more,” RBI Pittsburgh program coordinator Charles Saunders said. “These kids are getting some instruction from the best around and can meet their heroes. That carries a lot of weight with every person here.”
Hanrahan, McCutchen and Walker along with teammates James McDonald and Josh Harrison, helped the instructor during the final 30 minutes of the clinic before taking part in a question and answer session at Blue Top Pavilion across the street from Renziehausen Park.
The kids received autographs, a T-shirt and a catered lunch — all at no cost.
“This is a great experience,” Hanrahan said. “Obviously, everybody here knows McCutchen, and even at the pitching station, they were like, ‘Where's McCutchen, where's McCutchen?' It's nice to be able to help out inner-city kids who wouldn't normally get this opportunity.”
The clinic was months in the making. It started when RBI took a dozen girls to Arizona for the Junior Classic last year.
“They like what we do in Pittsburgh, so they wanted to bring it here,” Saunders said.
After contemplating areas such as Homewood, Wilkinsburg, the Hill District and Northview Heights, the Ripken Foundation, which conducts nearly a dozen clinics in major league cities during the summer, chose McKeesport in large part because of the facilities.
“Anytime you get outsiders into town for something as great and wonderful as this, it is truly something special,” McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko said. “I am very impressed with the turnout and with what these volunteers did here.”
Jim Barry, who runs MYBO and a board member of RBI Pittsburgh, was integral in getting the clinic to come to McKeesport.
“We get hung up of all the negative things in the city, and there is so much good that goes on that you don't hear about,” Barry said. “I want these kids to know that there is something else out there.”
The Ripken Foundation contacted Barry during the winter. Barry contacted Penn State Greater Allegheny baseball coach Jim Chester for help.
Chester called on some coaching buddies — East Allegheny's Ryan Encapera, South Allegheny's Mark Suckfiel and PSGA assistant coach Joe Ranalli, to name a few.
“This had to be one of the best baseball days in the city's history,” Chester said. “In my short baseball career, this goes up near the top of the best things I've been involved with. These kids definitely learned something, but the driving force was that Andrew McCutchen, Joel Hanrahan and all these guys were here.”
McCaffrey admitted that getting a star player such as McCutchen in other cities to volunteer for these clinics are difficult.
“Those guys want to come out and get in the community, and that is just phenomenal,” McCaffrey said. “You also have to give credit to Jim Barry, Ron Bishop and Charles Saunders for all their hard work and dedication to get this thing here. We strive to have 150 kids, and for this thing to touch 250, it was amazing.”
Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Coping with Kids: Cool products for family road trips
- Former Steelers linebacker Harrison retires
- Outbound 376 reopened after man on exit sign caused closure
- Penn State edges Central Florida on last-second field goal
- 90,000 people could hit the North Shore for games, ribs
- Steelers claim former Cowboys cornerback Webb
- Fayette DA’s office will remain on death penalty case
- Pirates notebook: Lambo recalled to bolster bench
- Veteran Keisel settles into role with Steelers
- Retail theft suspect takes off, leaves baby at Rostraver Township Walmart
- Secret judicial ruling blocks release of sexually explicit emails