Local youth take MLB Fanfest by storm

As a big-time baseball fan, I took my pilgrammage to the MLB Fanfest at Moscone Center West in San Francisco today. Had a great time taking in some great history (they had Mickey Mantle’s contract on display. How cool is that. Can anybody guess how much he signed for?) and I gotta say that Major League Baseball puts on one heck of a show. Only problem? I was offered a free copy of the “other Bay Area paper” several times. Arg.

Where does this fit with local sports? I waited in line for an hour and fifteen minutes (before you ask, it was so not a waste of time) to hit against a video screen with major league pitchers throwing at me. While in line, I got a chance to watch those before me take their hacks against these video pitching machines. What I saw was a collection of kids that could hit. I mean, seriously, there were a few that could contribute significantly on my softball team. Here’s the cool part: they were almost all in uniform. One image sticking in my mind is a cage full of Castro Valley little leaguers taking cuts against Barry Zito, Roger Clemens and even Hideo Nomo. Reminded me of my little league experiences, particularly when we ran into Ricky Henderson hitting in the cages in Emeryville. You want to learn how to hit a baseball? Watch as many of the professionals up close as you can.

Still, by the time we see these kids evolve into bigger, stronger players most of the groundwork for them to be solid players has been laid. It’s the East Diablos, the Antioch LL’ers, the ECYB’ers, Pinole/Hercules LL, Concord American LL and many more. That’s what the game is all about and, even more than the major leaguers, that’s what was on display today in San Francisco.

How’d I do? Two line shots off of Roy Oswalt’s head. Still got a little game.
— Ben Enos