By Melissa Priebe
On Saturday, the Minnesota Twins Youth Clinic came to Mayer, giving local kids a lesson in baseball basics on the field at Old Schoolhouse Park.
Founded in 1961, the Twins Youth Clinics were the idea of Angelo Giuliana, a long-time scout for the baseball team.
The free program gives the ball club a way to promote the games of baseball and softball to boys and girls throughout the state.
The clinics are broken up into two sessions, one for children ages 6 to 9 years old, and a second session for those who are 10 to 16 years old. The kids get to experience the in’s and out’s of baseball in a format developed by Twins General Manager Terry Ryan and former Twins executive Bob Gebhard.
For the kids on the field, that meant learning three different sets of skills.
“We teach three different things,” said John Wilkens, one of the coaches from the Twins Youth Clinic. “We do hitting; we do infield play and fly balls; and we do throwing.”
The Youth Clinics offer an advantage to both young baseball and softball players, and their parents, as the program bring coaches from high school and college programs to the bat. The coaches answer questions, offer advice and give the children activities they can do to practice their skills, whether they are under the supervision of a coach or just off on their own.
“The problem we see is kids just don’t practice enough,” said Wilkens. “The benefit of the clinic is that we teach them the basic skills. We show them the right way.”
Wilkens said the event drew a large turnout early in the morning, with the numbers of kids who participating lessening in the afternoon. They worked with the kids on all three aspects of the game, and then they shared some advice for life off the field.
“We usually talk to them about how to be good citizens,” he said. “That’s part of what we do.”
Kids from both ages got solid training in ball field basics on Saqturday, and they came away with a souvenir bag inscribed with “Play Ball!”
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