Around the Mound 05-23-09
“Work hard, have fun, and get an education,” were the mutual words of advice from Orlando Hudson, Juan Pierre and Torii Hunter during the Around the Mound event that took place at the Urban Youth Academy Saturday afternoon.
The event was put together by Hudson of the Los Angeles Dodgers in order to help increase the awareness of baseball among African-Americans and inner-city youth. Hudson successfully got Dodger teammate Pierre and Los Angeles Angels outfielder Hunter to help out with the event. Ironically the two teams are in a freeway series battle at Dodger Stadium this weekend.
Two-hundred kids listened in awe to the pros talk about what it takes to be a Major Leaguer on-and-off the field. The event also featured photograph and autograph opportunities, tips and techniques to use on the field and a question session with the pros.
“This means a lot to me because I was the same type of kid out of a small town in Louisiana so to look at this facility they have to play on is awesome,” said Hudson. “Any time there is anything here I can do to help with the kids I’m all for it.”
Hunter stressed the need to keep working hard and stay dedicated.
“You can have all the athletic ability in the world but if you don’t accept failure in this game it’s going to eat you up,” said Hunter. “This is a hard game. It may look easy, but it’s hard.”
Hudson had advice when it came to education.
“It starts off in school,” he said. “You have to make the grades. Sports are going to be here … without school there is no next level.”
After each player talked, the kids split up into three groups. Each group had the opportunity to get autographs and ask questions to one of the three pros. In addition, the Major Leaguers gave the kids tips about playing the game of baseball.
Pierre had kids running the bases, telling them how to run hard through first base. Hudson focused on hitting techniques. He stressed the importance of keeping your foot down and keeping the barrel of the bat in the zone longer. Hunter was teaching kids how to play the outfield. He said that playing the outfield is all about “instincts and timing.” He also demonstrated how to play the warning track and the wall.
The kids left high-spirited with knowledge and inspiration. It was obvious that Pierre, Hudson and Hunter all left a lasting memory in their minds.