Kids gathered at Texas Rangers Youth Academy to meet current players and learn batting techniques
By Sam Butler
DALLAS -- The day started gloomy with a few downpours and a handful of lightning delays, but by noon, the only thing brighter than the sun was the smiles on the kids' faces during the Play Ball event at the Texas Rangers Youth Academy.
After their camp at the Mercy Street Sports Complex, which was supposed to start in the morning, were delayed a bit, the campers eventually got to play a few games of Wiffle ball. Then a few members of the Rangers showed up, and suddenly the campers were so happy that it was like there had never been a storm in the first place.
Pitchers Matt Bush, Nick Martinez and A.J. Griffin and outfielder Jared Hoying took part in helping the campers. Bush and Martinez played in the Wiffle ball game, Griffin ran some drills on the other field, and Hoying gave pointers in the batting cage.
"It's what it's all about," Hoying said. "It's a great feeling to be fortunate enough to be a Texas Ranger, and I just love giving back, I love helping out the kids, and I can't say enough things about how much fun we had out here, so it's a great time."
They were there to help unveil the partnership between the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation and the Power2Change Foundation. A check for $100,000 was presented, which will go toward the construction of the Oates Field presented by Papa John's and the 38,000 square foot Globe Life Indoor Training Center, which are scheduled to open in the fall of 2017.
"The Texas Rangers and our Baseball Foundation are honored to have The Power2Change Foundation become a partner at the MLB Youth Academy," said Rangers vice president of community outreach and foundation executive director Karin Morris. "The Power2Change Foundation has had a profound influence on the lives of so many young people during the last two years, and we look forward to working with them to continue that impact at the Youth Academy."
The facility, located in West Dallas, will give children a place to play both baseball and softball along with hosting tournaments, clinics and camps.
And with members of the Rangers there to help hammer home skills and lessons, the campers will remember their interaction with the players for a long time.
"I definitely remember when I was a kid, my traveling team, we had a guy come in that played Minor League baseball, and just to see a professional baseball player field ground balls and just interact with us was amazing," Bush said. "So I understand every time I'm around kids, the opportunity that I have to excite them and make them happy and just realize that it's possible."
Sam Butler is a reporter for MLB.com based in Arlington. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.