Former Major League Baseball player D.J. Carrasco is accustomed to playing in sold out stadiums around the United States, but not one usually so young.
As a pitcher for the New York Mets, Chicago White Sox and Arizona Cardinals, among other MLB teams, he knows how to wow a crowd, but this time is was a group of Tauranga youth who attended a free coaching clinic at Papamoa’s Gordon Spratt Reserve.
The once in a lifetime opportunity was for kids between the ages of 5-16, who are baseball newbies or aspiring young athletes.
Tauranga City Baseball President Shane Woolley says thanks to Tauranga City Baseball and Baseball NZ, Carrasco’s high-profile coaching clinic was open to all kids across the Tauranga region.
“We got D.J. here last minute so we didn’t have much of a chance to publicise the event but ended up with a great turnout of kids eager to learn from him,” he says.
Nearly three dozen boys and girls braved the heat to learn the steps of pitching in the three-hour clinic.
From the right stance, to the ball and glove positioning, to the correct way to throw, Carrasco held a captivated audience with his down-to-earth and kid-friendly demeaner.
He also signed autographs for excited fans. One parent watching the hands-on instruction was thrilled her son was participating,
“It’s an amazing chance to learn tips from a baseball great. Who would have thought my eight-year-old would get coaching from a pro in Papamoa,” she says.
One of the highlights was the question and answer sessions, with kids asking fun, and oh-so-important questions like ‘How often did you practice as a kid?’, and ‘What other sports do you like?’.
Tauranga City Baseball, in its third year as a growing club, and is eager to entice more youth to the sport that’s gaining popularity around New Zealand.
“T-ball and Rookie ball for the younger set has some good numbers and potential, however the Under 13’s and 16’s could use more players to round out the team” says Shane.
Boys or girls interested in trying the sport and joining the club can head to the TCB Facebook page for more information.