The home field of the Oakland A’s at the O.co Coliseum became a field of dreams on Tuesday afternoon for more than 100 Richmond kids who participated in a baseball clinic led by former Major League stars and hometown heroes.
Chevron and the A’s teamed up to host the baseball clinic, which featured a number of baseball legends including long-time manager and recent hall of fame inductee Tony La Russa, 1985 National League most valuable player (MVP) Willie McGee, 1971 American League MVP and Cy Young Award winner Vida Blue and current coach Ron Washington. Joining them were two Richmond natives, Shooty Babitt and Mike Felder, who made it to the Major Leagues.
“Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. Be what you want to be,” Babitt, who was joined by his son Zachary, a 2012 draft pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers, told the kids. “Hopefully you will get something out of today that will last your whole life.”
The 115 kids, ages 8 to 15, were from the Richmond Police Athletic League and the Richmond Little League. During the 90 minute clinic, kids were schooled in a range of baseball skills including hitting, pitching, base running and fielding.
“Today’s clinic showed these kids that there is something beyond Richmond. Some of the kids have never even been to Pt. Richmond. So this kind of event greatly expands their world. They can see it. They can hear it. And they can dream it,” said Bebe Ross of the Richmond Police Activities League.
The clinic included exhibits from Chevron’s popular STEM ZONE, which aims to inspire science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning through the science of sports.
“Chevron is proud to partner with the Oakland A’s to excite our Richmond youth about STEM by demonstrating real world applications through the fundamentals of baseball,” said Mark Ayers, chief of emergency services at Chevron’s Richmond Refinery and board member of the Richmond Police Activities League, who also threw out the ceremonial first pitch at Tuesday evening’s A’s – Rockies game.
The STEM ZONE is part of Chevron’s ongoing investment in education partnerships and programs across the nation, which has totaled more than $140 million since 2010. The support is particularly important to the company and its vendors and business partners who rely on a STEM-skilled workforce. The programming also arms students with the critical skills needed to succeed in jobs of the future, which is important to a community like Richmond that is looking for sustainable and lasting economic growth.
A’s rookie pitcher Kendall Graveman, who has a degree in mechanical engineering from Mississippi State University, hoped the event would inspire kids to explore STEM opportunities, “I feel in love with math and science in high school and then to go into a mechanical engineering degree in college was something that was unique. I hope some of these kids fall in love with it and follow the same lines”.
Judging by the wide smiles on the kids’ faces, the event was an overwhelming success. “It was really fun to meet the older players and get to play ball on a real Major League field,” said a 12- year-old boy from Helms Middle School who took part in the event told.
For the A’s the event was a natural fit.
“The A’s organization strives to make a positive impact in the Bay Area and Northern California and we’re committed to meeting the social, cultural and educational demands in the community,” said Ken Pries, Vice President of Communications and Broadcasting for the Oakland Athletics. “Bringing the science of the game to life is a great way to learn about STEM, which is why we’re thrilled to be partnering with Chevron.”