PHILADELPHIA -- During the past two years, Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter has worked to secure almost $6 million in funding for mentoring programs in the state.

"We know that everyone has problems," Specter told a crowd of 125 youngsters outside Citizens Bank Park before Saturday night's game. "That's what the mentors are for."

Specter was the guest of honor for the Phillies' Mentoring Awareness Day. Youngsters from the Phillies' Rookie & RBI programs and Philadelphia Police Athletic League were treated to speeches from Specter and former Phillie Dickie Noles. Specter also accompanied one of the children out to the field while the youngster threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

Second baseman Chase Utley and reliever Tom Gordon also answered questions for the children before the game.

"He's got the shortest, most powerful swing in baseball," Specter said, referring to Utley. Later, he added: "The eighth inning belongs to Tom Gordon."

Noles, who pitched for the Phillies' 1980 World Series championship team, recounted for the children the story of how he began playing baseball. During his early days as a ballplayer, Noles was hurt after being hit in the leg by a pitched ball, he told the children, but persevered nevertheless.

"If you try your best in life, things will work out," Noles said.