Back in the old days, Major League Baseball pitchers would wipe the sweat and grease from the back of their ears onto a baseball in order to impact the trajectory of pitches, former MLB second baseman Shooty Babitt told a group of young players at Oakland Coliseum on Thursday.
“Now when you get air and water [on the baseball],” Babitt said, “You guys know, you study science and stuff. You know about temperature and air pressure. They talk about the Marine layer [in the Bay Area]. Sometimes guys are so frustrated because they will hit a ball in the daytime that will end up in the seats, and then they will hit a ball at night and they’re scratching their head because that same ball doesn’t even get over the fence.”
Babitt was one of six former baseball stars who led 100 Richmond youth in a skills practice. For a second straight year, young baseball players were brought to the stadium by Chevron as part of an ongoing partnership with the Oakland A’s to teach youth the science of the game. The company and A’s hold events throughout the season promoting youth education in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects.
Along with Babitt, the coaching staff Thursday morning included A’s third base coach Ron Washington, former Major Leaguers Bip Roberts and Mike Felder, John “Blue Moon” Odom, who won three World Series titles with the A’s from 1972-74, and 2012 MLB draft selection Zachary Babitt.
A’s player Kendall Graveman, who studied mechanical engineering at Mississippi State and is a STEM supporter, also met with the kids and signed autographs.
Aside from learning baseball from stars of the game, youth participated in a number of STEM-related activities that aimed to deepen their knowledge about STEM subjects. They tested their reaction speed, measured how high they could jump and discovered how the brain adjusts when vision is altered.
They also learned about teamwork and self-confidence.
“If you have the skill and you have the will and you’re on the team, there’s a role for you,” Babitt told them. “And your role is to be the best you can be. Not be the fastest, not be the quickest, not be the tallest. But be yourself. The only way you are going to find out who you are is through repetition, through practice, through team play and by taking challenges on.”
Chevron has placed a focus on increasing education opportunities in the community, having launched similar STEM-related initiatives with the San Francisco 49ers, Super Bowl City and San Jose Earthquakes.
The company has also sponsored the largest fabrication laboratory for a U.S. high school at Kennedy High in Richmond and recently celebrated the groundbreaking of a $35 million college scholarship program for every Richmond student called The Richmond Promise.
“If you take one thing away from all of this, it’s that we care; you guys are important,” Patty Canessa, Chevron Richmond public affairs manager, told the youth Thursday. “Focus on your education, stay in school, have fun out here, learn about science, technology, engineering and math through the art of baseball, and I want to see all 100 of you working at the Richmond Refinery in a few years.”