While addressing eager Richmond Police Activities League kids before a baseball clinic at Martin Luther King Jr. Park on Tuesday, former Oakland A’s player and TV analyst Shooty Babitt pointed out the former major leaguers standing to his right.
There was Vida Blue, a six-time Major League Baseball All-Star pitcher, and Willie McGee, the winner of three Golden Gloves during the 1980s. Babitt also pointed out Michael Felder, who won the Willie Mac award as San Francisco Giant in 1992, and his son Zachary, who played professionally after being drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2010.
Yes, all the former pros had successful baseball careers, Shooty said, but there was something more interesting to note: A majority of them grew up in Richmond.
“They started out just like you,” Shooty told a group of about 50 kids during the clinic sponsored by Chevron Richmond. “Big eyes, bright eyes, and eager.”
Shooty then explained what would become the theme of the A’s all-star baseball clinic, which also featured an appearance from current A’s outfielder Sam Fuld.
“These guys put in a lot of work to get to where they are today,” Shooty told the kids.
He added that he was relatively short for a baseball player, but didn’t let that get in the way of his MLB dream.
“I wouldn’t let anyone outwork me,” he said.
And so the former players, Fuld and the RPAL kids got to work on the fundamentals of baseball, using the field the A’s paid to renovate in May. The kids worked on their hitting, pitching, outfield, infield and base-running.
Chevron Richmond sponsored the clinic as part of the company’s ongoing support for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education programs. Chevron has been working with the A’s to use baseball to teach children lessons in science. In May, A’s pitcher Sonny Gray teamed with Chevron to hand out Science of the Game workbooks to Richmond students.
“You will take that passion, leadership and teamwork to your careers, not just sports,” Ayers said, adding that he continues to use the principles he learned while playing baseball as a fire chief.