The Cincinnati Reds are one of baseball's most historic franchises and, in two weeks, several of the team's past stars will be teaching the local youth the basics and fundamentals of America's past time. The Cincinnati Reds Legends 3-Day Youth Baseball Clinic will be held June 18, 19 and 20. The clinic will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day at V.F.W. Field in Marietta. It is available to kids ages 4-19, and will include pitching, hitting and fielding instruction.
Mike Wagner has directed the event for 19 years, and said it is all about the kids.
"The thing about the camp is that the kids have a great learning experience," Wagner said. "They get to learn the techniques and proper way to do things from the pros. It's the experience of a lifetime."
Times file photo
Former Cincinnati Reds outfielder/infielder Ryan Freel (6) watches as campers take part in a fielding drill during a past annual Reds Legends baseball camp at Patriot Park in Marietta.
Former Reds stars that have been confirmed to attend include Ryan Freel (2003-2008), Don Gullett (1970-1976), Tony Perez (1964-1976, 1984-1986), Dave Parker (1984-1987), Brett Boone (1994-1998), Norm Charlton (1988-1992, 2000), Todd Benzinger (1989-1991), and possibly more.
Freel, a utility player with the Reds who typically batted lead off, was known by fans for his hustle and will to win. He could often be found diving for balls and jumping into walls at Great American Ball Park, and is excited to share his knowledge to the younger generation.
"Mike Wagner has put together an unbelievable program," Freel said. "This is what life is about, to be giving back to these kids. A lot of these kids know who we were. They get a chance to get to know us, and we get to know them. We get to teach them not just about baseball, but about life. I'm delighted to do it."
Freel is helping out with the clinic for the second year in a row, and will likely work in many areas, including fielding, base running, or wherever he is needed.
"These kids are ahead of the game," Freel said. "I didn't have anything like this when I was growing up. They're very blessed. It's great that former pros are stepping up and helping out these kids. That's what it's all about."
The clinic is about three-fourths of the way full, so register as soon as possible, as it is expected to be an unforgettable experience.
"My expectations are that we'll have another good year," Wagner said. "It's a chance for the kids to make memories. We believe that we make dreams come true. Getting to meet a player like Tony Perez is something they'll remember 'til they're 75."
Speaking of Perez, the Hall of Fame first baseman from the Big Red Machine era was a two time World Series champion, as was Gullett. Gullett, a starting pitcher, was teammates with Perez on the Reds teams that won back to back World Series in 1975 and 1976.
Gullett has also served as a pitching coach for the Reds, and enjoys spending time talking baseball in Marietta.
"I've been to the event a couple of other times," Gullett said. "I always enjoy being in that area. It's a great town and there always seems to be a great turnout. It's a pleasure working with the kids."
Gullett said that teaching younger players what he knows about the game is a baseball player's duty. "It's what baseball should be all about," Gullett said. "When a ballplayer's career is over, you should pass on your knowledge to younger players."
Charlton, a relief pitcher, and Benzinger, a first baseman, were each a part of the 1990 Reds team that won the World Series.
The 1990 Reds are the only team in Major League history to go wire to wire, or hold a share of first place from the beginning of the season to the end.
Charlton joined relievers Randy Myers and Rob Dibble to form one of the best bullpens in the early 90s, known as The Nasty Boys.
The cost of the clinic is $125, and the deadline to register was Wednesday, June 13.
To register, call (740) 373-3476, or mail your registration form and payment to 16650 State Route 550, Marietta, OH 45750.
Registrations can be found at www.cincinnatiredslegendsyouthbaseballclinic.yolasite.com. Meals and drinks are provided.