OAKLAND -- Imagine walking through the doors of your elementary school for the first day of classes and being greeted by a Major League player, offering you a new backpack to begin the year.

That was the memorable experience for approximately 500 students on Wednesday at the Loma Vista Elementary School in Vallejo, Calif., as Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia returned to the hallways he once roamed and offered to pitch in for his hometown.

"It was fun going back," Sabathia said. "There's a few teachers who are still there from when I was there. It was fun to go there and talk to the kids, and hang out for a while and give them some school supplies. Everyone was a little antsy."

Sabathia appeared with his "PitCCh In Foundation," offering fully loaded black backpacks to students. Along with an autographed photo, each backpack also contained binders, lined paper, rulers, erasers, pencil sharpeners and crayons.

The 29-year-old Yankees hurler and his family still keep a home in nearby Fairfield, Calif., during the offseason, though they are transitioning to life on the East Coast and a New Jersey residence.

While he now works in New York, Sabathia said that he wants to keep in touch with his California roots. He and his wife, Amber, have been planning the Loma Vista Elementary program for some time, and his mother, Margie, spearheaded the project.

Speaking in two waves of class assemblies on Wednesday, Sabathia said he could "definitely" see a little bit of himself in the dozens of children in grades Kindergarten through five who got a chance to meet the hurler.

"They all grew up in the same neighborhood I grew up in, and they're going to the same school," Sabathia said. "It's just weird being in that cafeteria. I thought it was a lot bigger."

Sabathia said that he hoped to send an inspirational message to the young pupils that, even though Vallejo is a small community and times have changed, they can still follow their dreams and become whatever they want to be.

By the time he last walked out of Loma Vista Elementary, Sabathia had already made up his mind that he would be standing on a Major League mound someday -- a decision that seems to have worked out pretty well for everyone involved.

"I had no backup plan," Sabathia said, laughing. "But I went to those same classrooms and walked those same halls. That says you can make it out."