MLB alumni teach SUSD students baseball skills, life lessons

SUSD students do strength and conditioning drills with former Colorado Rockies draftee Ryan Kibler during the Youth Luncheon and Clinic at Scottsdale Stadium (Independent Newsmedia/Josh Martinez)

On Friday, Jan. 27 former Major League Baseball pitcher John D’Acquisto stood near first base at Scottsdale Stadium. But instead of waiting for a base hit, he imparted some advice to the mass of high school students that had formed around him.

Although Mr. D’Acquisto’s playing days are long over, he still finds time to attend the annual Youth Luncheon and Clinic — hosted by the Scottsdale Charros — to teach baseball skills and life lessons to students from Scottsdale Schools.

“It’s part of our legacy to give them what we learned, to share what we learned with them so they can pay it forward and give to the kids of the future,” he said following the event.

“What we learned in baseball is very special and to be able to give it to these kids here today is always special to me.”

However, Mr. D’Acquisto was not alone in this endeavor. Ten other former MLB and college players attended the event, breaking off into various stations to teach the 263 students skills such as pitching, throwing, hitting and fielding.

Former San Francisco Giants pitcher John D’Acquisto offers baseball tips to students from some Scottsdale Unified School District high school students during the annual Youth Luncheon and Clinic at Scottsdale Stadium (Independent Newsmedia/Josh Martinez).

Those former players who attended were Jacob Cruz, Ken Rudolph, Ryan Kibler, Dave Burba, Junior Spivey, Anthony Sanders, Al Schmelz, Larry Collura and Ryan Garko.

Jose Leon, an active Charro and chair for the event, said he is grateful for all the former players who attended the event.

“We set the stage so they can come out here and teach these kids some life lessons apart from the skills they have been able to hone-in on through their lives and their professional careers,” Mr. Leon said following the event.

In order to attend the event, Mr. Leon said the Charros asked Scottsdale Unified School District schools to send students who had good attendance and were doing well in school.

The students who attended the event came from 15 elementary schools, four K-8 schools, five middle schools and five high schools.

In between lessons and stations, the former players signed autographs from attending students.

“I like seeing smiles because it means you’re getting to them and they’re listening,” Mr. D’Acquisto said.

“If you can get to one kid, you’ve done your job and that’s my theory, but we’ve been getting to many. Being able to be a part of this and share our past with them is very special and seeing them enjoy it is even better.”

Following the clinic, the Charros hosted a raffle and awarded students with gift cards and other prizes before sending them back to school.

Former MLB player Larry Collura works with an SUSD student on throwing a baseball during the Youth Luncheon and Clinic at Scottsdale Stadium (Independent Newsmedia/Josh Martinez).

News Services Reporter Josh Martinez can be contacted at jmartinez@newszap.com or at 623-445-2738

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