BY ANTHONY O’REILLY
The next generation of baseball players had the opportunity to be trained by the greats of yesteryear at a Youth Baseball Clinic held at St. Kevin’s School in Flushing.
Yankee greats Roy White, Oscar Gamble and Gamble’s son Sean, a former Phillies player and current coach at Selma University in Alabama, all participated in the event. The youngsters were able to receive tips on batting, pitching and throwing from the former players.
Queens legend Dwight “Doc” Gooden, a part of the 1986 Mets championship team, also came out to the event.
This was the third time the clinic was held, according to the Catholic Youth Organization’s (CYO) baseball director for St. Kevin’s, John Bonnano.
Bonnano, who played Little League himself as a kid, said he started the clinic to allow the youngsters to have a memory about baseball, beyond just playing on the field.
“It’s something for them to remember as they grow up as well as have fun and learn some things,” he said.
Bonanno said last year the clinic was held out on Long Island, which caused low attendance because of the commute. This year, the clinic returned to the school’s basketball court.
Bonnano said he’s good friends with Gamble, which allowed him to host the clinic at a minimal cost.
Gamble said he felt it important to attend such clinics because it allowed the next generation of baseball players to get a head start in honing their skills.
“We try to teach a lot of the technique,” he said. “It’s great to get our and help the kids. It’s a lot of fun.”
White said that while he was eager to help the young players develop their skills, he pointed out that it’s hard to teach them everything they need to know at this point of the game.
“You can do some basic things,” he said. “But you can’t start getting too technical with them.”
White also said he wanted to show up in order to give the kids something to remember their baseball playing days by.
“I never had anyone from baseball come in when I was in school,” he said.
Kevin Hynes has two kids at St. Kevin’s, both of whom play baseball. For him, attending the clinic with his kids was common sense.
“They’re very active in the St. Kevin’s community,” he said. “So this was the next logical step.”
Hynes said while he teaches his kids the fundamentals of baseball, he still felt it important to bring them to the clinic and learn from the greats.
“Even though we’re Queens Mets fans, it’s still great for them to show them how to play the game and just have fun.”
Kids and their parents were also given the opportunity to take pictures with and receive autographs from the players. Many parents brought along posters and memorabilia from the players during their heyday, something that White says is a common occurrence at clinics such as these.
“A lot of people will come up to me and say, ‘I used to copy your stance when I was playing,’” said White.
Bonnano said he will try to continue the tradition of the youth clinic every year, hoping that it attracts more and more young baseball hopefuls.
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