Marlins share baseball with youth of Bahrain
Club contingent visiting troops conducts clinic for children
MIAMI -- Not only are the Marlins talking baseball to soldiers stationed overseas, they are teaching the game to children living in Bahrain.
As part of their busy Saturday agenda, the Marlins' contingent visiting United States military personnel spent some time conducting a baseball clinic for youth players.
Marlins catcher John Buck took a lead role in offering instruction to elementary and high school children.
Buck and Logan Morrison are the active Marlins players on the trip, while Hall of Famer Andre Dawson and former All-Star Jeff Conine are part of the contingent. Dawson and Conine are special assistants with the team.
"John Buck is a manager in the making," said Marlins senior vice president of marketing Sean Flynn, who also is on the trip. "He was the coach today."
Conditions for the clinic in Bahrain were far less than ideal for baseball.
"It was basically bags on sand," Flynn said. "And it was an open field."
To the roughly 45 players being offered instruction, the day felt like they were playing at Wrigley Field. The fact that they were being taught by big leaguers was a thrill of a lifetime.
"There were about 10-15 junior players, probably elementary school age," Flynn said. "And probably 25-30 high school-aged kids who came out. They basically were playing on a sandlot. They were all American kids living here. They loved it. They ate it up."
For the second straight year, the Marlins have sent a group halfway across the world to visit those in uniform. Working in cooperation with Armed Forces Entertainment (AFE), the contingent will be seeing troops stationed in Germany and Southwest Asia.
They currently are in Bahrain, where they will spend Sunday night watching the Super Bowl between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers. There will be an outdoor viewing at the base.
"There will be 500-700 people in a courtyard watching the Super Bowl on a big screen," Flynn said. "They are setting up a stage."
Because of the time difference, the football game, which starts at 6:25 p.m. ET, will air at 2:25 a.m. where the Marlins are stationed.
"It's going to be like a big plaza party," Flynn said. "They're all looking forward to it."
Along with their baseball clinic, the Marlins group ate lunch with the troops. They had a couple of meet-and-greets on military bases that turned into autograph sessions.
The members of the team are handing out baseball caps, T-shirts, Marlins dog-tags and other items.
"The people here are so happy we came over," Flynn said. "They are amazed that people have taken time out of their lives to fly halfway around the world to see them. They're grateful.
"It's incredible the way they react to T-shirts and caps. These troops are in the desert living in tents, away from their families. When people like us come through, it's like a piece of home visiting them. It's something they don't see on a regular basis."