posted 8 years ago
Although he has been retired from Major League Baseball for four years, Clay Bellinger still spends many of his nights on the baseball diamond.
He stands around home plate, lofting baseballs into the air and sailing high pop-ups into the outfield where his former teammate with the New York Yankees organization, Ken Huckaby, stands.
But this isn't a friendly game of catch or an attempt to make a comeback.
As Bellinger smacks another ball, this time to the outer edge of the infield, two boys near Huckaby run to try to snag the ball before it hits the ground.
Instead of honing their own skills, Huckaby and Bellinger have partnered to advance the skills of young athletes with Baseball Boot Camp.
After leaving the game six months ago, Huckaby decided to start the camp after realizing how much fun he had coaching his son, Kyle, in Little League. He also thought athletes should be learning the fundamentals of the game.
"There's so much hitting and pitching instruction out there in the Valley, around here that people do, and no one teaches the defense fundamentals. And that's what we wanted to focus on," Huckaby said. "We wanted to stress the defensive side of it. We wanted to stress the agility part of it, the explosion part of baseball and show them what people at a higher level - at high school, college and pro level - what the guys do on the field to prepare to play baseball."
For Bellinger, the camp is about "teaching kids the right way to play the game, to be fundamentally correct, to have fun playing the game, to realize that the game of baseball is by far one of the hardest sports to play."