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
Boston children took to the field to learn fundamentals, get a free lunch, a few autographs and hours of unrestricted energy release.  (Nikki Warner)
MLB Alumni News
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
May 31, 2016: Puerto Rico 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.
June 4, 2016: Hartford Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
June 4, 2016: Lakewood Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
June 6, 2016: Berlin Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
June 8, 2016: Hamburg Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
June 9, 2016: Marl Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
June 10, 2016: Hannover Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
June 11, 2016: Miami Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
June 12, 2016: Charlevoix Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
June 12, 2016: Charlevoix Fundraiser
This MLBPAA fundraising event will benefit Charlevoix Little League.
June 13, 2016: Milan Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
June 14, 2016: Parma Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
June 15, 2016: Bologna Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
June 17, 2016: 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.
June 17, 2016: Rimini Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
June 18, 2016: Whitefish Bay Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
June 20, 2016: Florence Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
June 20, 2016: Loveland Fundraiser
This MLBPAA fundraising event will benefit The Miracle League.
June 21, 2016: Rome Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
June 25, 2016: Salinas Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
June 25, 2016: Visalia Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
June 25, 2016: Reading Fundraiser
This MLBPAA fundraising event will benefit the Big Vision Foundation.
July 7, 2016: Las Vegas Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 8, 2016: Huntington Beach Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 8, 2016: Compton Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 10, 2016: 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.
July 21, 2016: Boston 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, 2016: San Diego Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 15, 2016: Temecula Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 15, 2016: Cincinnati 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 16, 2016: Worcester Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 18, 2016: Waipahu Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 19, 2016: Hilo Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 20, 2016: Lihue Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 20, 2016: Stillwater Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 21, 2016: Wailuku Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 23, 2016: North Chicago Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 25, 2016: 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 27, 2016: 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.
July 30, 2016: Springfield Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 30, 2016: Danbury Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 30, 2016: Visalia Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
Aug. 5, 2016: Phoenix 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. 6, 2016: Basalt Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
Aug. 7, 2016: Toronto Coaches Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
Aug. 8, 2016: Toronto Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
Aug. 18, 2016: North Carolina 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. 20, 2016: Atlanta 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.
August 27, 2016: Visalia Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
Aug. 30, 2016: Arlington 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. 2, 2016: Denver 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. 11-12, 2016: Lake Charles Fundraiser
This MLBPAA fundraising event will benefit the MLBPAA.
Sept. 23, 2016: Jacksonville Fundraiser
This MLBPAA fundraising event will benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of North Florida.
Sept. 24, 2016: Jacksonville Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
September 24, 2016: Visalia Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
Oct. 13, 2016: Fort Worth Fundraiser
This MLBPAA fundraising event will benefit the MLBPAA Legends for Youth Clinic Series.
October 29, 2016: Visalia Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
Nov. 15, 2016: Legends for Youth Dinner
This MLBPAA fundraising event will benefit the MLBPAA Legends for Youth Clinic Series.
November 26, 2016: Visalia Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
December 31, 2016: Visalia Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
Complete Event Schedule