A group of the Southern League's best players woke up early on a rare day off Monday to offer tips and run through drills with close to 50 participants in Chattanooga's RBI youth baseball program on the outfield grass at AT&T Park.
The Lookouts partner with RBI, short for Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities, which is a national youth baseball program sponsored by Major League Baseball designed to promote baseball to underserved youth. The players were in town for tonight's Southern League All-Star game.
An opportunity to step between the foul lines at a venue like AT&T Field is rare for anyone. But to do it with a hat and glove while learning from some of the game's emerging stars is a whole different ball game. Even the professionals who play every day adjusted their roles by acting as drill leaders to the youth ages 7-18.
"This is what it's all about, trying to give back to the younger generation, that way they can keep it going and keep learning how to play the game right so the game can keep getting better," said Lookouts outfielder Scott Schebler. "It's all about the future, and that's what they are, the future. And we're supposed to be the ones to teach them."
Several all-stars from the Mississippi Braves, Montgomery Biscuits and Tennessee Smokies helped out. Schebler was the only Chattanooga player present at the clinic. Others visited local hospitals to talk with children there.
"This is an opportunity for them to give back a little bit," Lookouts General Manager Rich Mozingo said. "I'm telling you, to the person, not one batted an eye. They were more than willing to come out and do it. They're unbelievable."
While taking swings in the visitor's batting cage, 14-year-old Patrick Childress received a few tips.
"I had my hands too tight and they told me to hold the bat more in my palm," said the Tyner High School student who plays third base on a travel team run through the RBI program. "I made some more solid hits that way."
Contact staff writer David Cobb at email@example.com or 423-757-6731.