3/18/2013 11:09 A.M. ET

Legends hold first youth clinic at Surprise Stadium

Alumni teach fundamental skills, share baseball experiences at Legends for Youth clinic
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- A few hours before the Rangers and Dodgers took the field at Surprise Stadium on Saturday, a group of 11 former big leaguers hosted roughly 130 kids on the same diamond for a youth baseball clinic put on by the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association.

The event, which filled up in just 48 hours after online registration opened, is one of more than 100 free Legends for Youth clinics the MLBPAA sponsors throughout year across the country and world.

At every site it visits, the organization contacts local retired MLB players to act as coaches and mentors for the hundreds of children that show up eager to learn and play.

Although the MLBPAA is currently in its 18th year of organizing these events, Saturday marked the first time it held one in Surprise. Attendees, with ages ranging from 6 to 16, spent two hours transitioning through seven stations such as baserunning, throwing and hitting. Afterward, the MLB alumni signed autographs and spoke about their experiences in the big leagues.

Among the retirees in attendance were John D'Acquisto, Tom Heintzelman, Bob Didier and Ken Rudolph. The most decorated of the bunch, however, was Mike Remlinger. Selected 16th overall in the 1987 MLB First-Year Player Draft, Remlinger played 14 seasons in the big leagues for the Giants, Mets, Reds, Braves, Cubs and Red Sox. He was a National League All-Star in 2002 and was part of the 1999 National League champion Braves.

"It's an opportunity to give back, to share some of what made you successful in life," said Remlinger, who has been helping coach the clinics for five years. "It's caring about the people who come after you. I want to share life lessons with these kids, whether that's how to be a better ballplayer or a better person."

While most of what the players teach the kids are fundamental skills, the fact that the information is coming from someone who played in the Majors makes it even more valuable.

"To be able to give them a little bit of structured lessons is great," Remlinger said. "I know for me, as a kid, I would've thought it would be so cool to have the opportunity to get in front of a big leaguer. It's a great way to learn values like being part of a team and working toward your goals."

Nick Atkinson, of Surprise, has taken his two sons to seven of the clinics already and said they've developed a special bond to one of the players, former Mets outfielder Leon Brown.

"He's a mentor and someone they both look up to now," Atkinson said. "They have had such a great experience here; the players are so good to the kids. Their eyes and ears are always glued to them when they talk."

For many parents, the best part of the events is that they are free of cost, making it available to children of any background.

"I've paid for clinics and I've done this one, and this one is by far the best one," Atkinson said. "They have more enjoyment out of the coaches, it's just great. The kids notice how much they care."

As to the specific lessons learned on Saturday, for Xander Atkinson, 9, and Dustin Atkinson, 6, it was as simple as running through first base, catching the ball with two hands and keeping their eyes on the ball. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLBPAA Events
June 26, 2017: Cincinnati Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
June 26, 2017: Ennepetal Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
June 28, 2017: Duesseldorf Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 1, 2017: Rotterdam Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 1, 2017: Salinas Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 1, 2017: San Diego Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 2, 2017: Rotterdam Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 5, 2017: Rotterdam Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 7, 2017: Rotterdam Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 9, 2017: Miami Alumni Day
The Alumni Day Series consists of a pre-game reception hosted at Major League Baseball Stadiums and includes two free tickets for each former player and their guest.
July 13, 2017: Cincinnati Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 15, 2017: Kansas City Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 15, 2017: Hartford Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 16, 2017: Eastport Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 16, 2017: St. Louis Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 17, 2017: Columbia Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 17, 2017: Waipahu Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 18, 2017: Hilo Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 19, 2017: Dallas Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 19, 2017: Lihue Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 20, 2017: Maui Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 21, 2017: Louisville Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 21, 2017: Fort Worth Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 22, 2017: Houston Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 22, 2017: Waterbury Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 23, 2017: Noblesville Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 24, 2017: Baton Rouge Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 24, 2017: Westfield Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 25, 2017: New Orleans Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 25, 2017: Colorado Springs Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 26, 2017: Chicago Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 27, 2017: Memphis Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 27, 2017: New York Alumni Day
The Alumni Day Series consists of a pre-game reception hosted at Major League Baseball Stadiums and includes two free tickets for each former player and their guest.
July 28, 2017: Hot Springs Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 29, 2017: Springfield Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 29, 2017: Visalia Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
Aug. 1, 2017: Baltimore Alumni Day
The Alumni Day Series consists of a pre-game reception hosted at Major League Baseball Stadiums and includes two free tickets for each former player and their guest.
Aug. 1-2, 2017: Belgrade Lakes Fundraiser
This MLBPAA fundraising event will benefit the MLBPAA and Alfond Youth Center Foundation.
Aug. 1, 2017: Boise Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
Aug. 4, 2017: Kent Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
Aug. 4, 2017: Lakewood Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
Aug. 6, 2017: Portland Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
Aug. 7, 2017: Old Westbury Fundraiser
This MLBPAA fundraising event will benefit the Frank Catalanotto Foundation.
Aug. 11, 2017: Medford Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
Aug. 13, 2017: Redding Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
Aug. 15, 2017: Sacramento Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
Aug. 19, 2017: Boston Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
Aug. 19, 2017: Seattle Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
Aug. 21, 2017: Salt Lake City Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
Aug. 25, 2017: Philadelphia Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
Aug. 26, 2017: Visalia Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
Aug. 30, 2017: Norfolk Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
Sept. 6, 2017: San Diego Alumni Day
The Alumni Day Series consists of a pre-game reception hosted at Major League Baseball Stadiums and includes two free tickets for each former player and their guest.
Sept. 13-14, 2017: Harrisburg Fundraiser
This MLBPAA fundraising event will benefit the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation.
Sept. 23, 2017: Chicago Alumni Day
The Alumni Day Series consists of a pre-game reception hosted at Major League Baseball Stadiums and includes two free tickets for each former player and their guest.
Sept. 30, 2017: Visalia Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
Oct. 14, 2017: Hartford Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
Oct. 14, 2017: Hartford Coaches Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
Oct. 28, 2017: Visalia Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
Nov. 3-5, 2017: Nicaragua Clinics
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
Nov. 25, 2017: Visalia Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
Dec. 14, 2017: Panama City Coaches Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
Dec. 15, 2017: Panama City Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
Dec. 16, 2017: Panama City Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
Dec. 17, 2017: Colon Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
Dec. 30, 2017: Visalia Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
Complete Event Schedule