The Sonoraville Recreation Complex held the MLPAA Legends for Youth Camp that included seven former Major League players each running stations on different aspects of the game including baserunning, hitting, fielding and pitching.
The camp was brought to the area by the Gordon County Christian Baseball Ministries, including help from local lawyer Jeff Clements and member of the ministry Steve Cornette, who worked for several years to bring the event.
Former Braves closer John Rocker was one of the guest instructors along with former pros Tom Carroll, Herm Winningham, Greg ‘Boomer’ Wells, Bob Long, Bob Galasso and Doug Simons.
The camp included an instructional time for the different stations on the field from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. followed by an autograph-signing session inside the gym at the complex for the youth with ages ranging from 6-16.
“It went very well,” said Jeff Clements, a local Calhoun lawyer who helped organize the camp. “In large part, it ran like a top because of the staff here at the rec center, our volunteers and, of course, the (former MLB) players. They really were true professionals.
“The response from the Gordon County and surrounding communities was great, and it was really a once in a lifetime opportunity for these kids.”
This Legends for Youth Camp is one of close to 40 run every year across the nation that are put on by the MLB Players Alumni Association with the mission of “promoting the game of baseball to America’s youth using positive sports images and personalities.”
MLBPAA special events coordinator Tyler Kourajian said it was one of the best camps he has been a part of over the last few years as part of the organization.
“This camp was great,” said Kourajian. “To have over 200 kids and it go this well is a testament to the help we had from the recreation complex staff.
“The former MLB alumni were good as always. It’s fun to see their interaction with the kids. It’s awesome to have the former players that want to help and promote the sport of baseball.”
All proceeds from the camp will go to benefit the Legends for Youth. The camp was just the beginning of a busy weekend a the Sonoraville Recreation Complex, as they will host a tournament that started on Friday and ran through Sunday.
The tournament, named the Bob Galasso Classic in honor of Bob Galasso, one of the MLB instructors at the camp that now makes his home in Rockmart, features tournaments in four different age divisions with kids from age 6-14. Proceeds from the tournament will go to benefit the Legends for Youth as well as the Gordon County Christian Baseball Ministries.
Rocker threw out the first pitch of the tournament on Saturday. The camp and tournament were sponsored by Gordon Hospital, Zaxby's, Sherman Hall Trucking, Roland Hayes Farms and Thomas Designs. Big John's Treat Shop also provided food for the the camp staff, volunteers and former MLB Players.
Galasso said he was blown away on Friday by how the camp ran as well as the participation by the kids.
“It was perfect,” said Galasso. “We couldn’t have asked for a better camp and a better day to do it. It was a little warm, but baseball is a warm weather sport.
“The event was well run by this community. The preparation and organization was great. And the kids up here were very receptive to us. So it wasn’t difficult at all to teach them.”
Galasso, who now teaches private pitching lessons, added that coming back to do these type camps and clinics after retiring from the game wasn’t something he expected to do.
“When I had retired and was in the corporate world, I never thought about doing stuff like this because I really didn’t think I’d enjoy it very much to be honest,” said Galasso. “But once I started, it brought baseball back into my life, and it’s been having that.”
The camp and tournament is just another part of the busy summer it’s been at the Sonoraville Complex where the Gordon County Parks and Recreation have hosted two Dizzy Dean State Tournaments along with other various baseball and softball tournaments.