PASO ROBLES — The Paso Robles Police Activities League (PAL) has been working in collaboration with the California Police Activities League and the San Francisco Giants Baseball Club to present Junior Giants baseball to the community this summer.
The Junior Giants baseball league, organized by the San Francisco Giants, is what summer and baseball are all about. The league is presented free of charge and free of competition. The entire focus of the league is to help young boys and girls become excited about baseball while learning the fundamentals of not just baseball but of being a good person.
Each week focuses on a different value that each and every child should learn such as integrity, teamwork, eliminating bullying and leadership. Every child is soaked in compliments and encouragement from the second they open their car door until they return. Each and every child on the team gets an at-bat every inning and swings until they get a hit. The lines between where one team stops and the other starts is completely blurred as players from opposing teams remind the baserunners to advance after the ball is hit.
There are no pitchers or umpires, no runs or errors, just smiles and laughter. Coaches from opposing teams can be heard giving pointers to children that are struggling at the plate.
If providing free baseball for kids throughout California wasn’t enough, earlier this season, on July 24, the Giants invited 15 players from most of the Junior Giants teams throughout the state (mostly senior players, the oldest of the Junior Giant Leagues) to AT&T Park to catch a game and meet some of the players, all for free.
Once inside the building the kids had the chance to meet team executives and even the one and only Buster Posey. Posey plays catcher for the Giants and is their biggest superstar and perhaps their biggest humanitarian. At the event, Posey purchased 1,000 baseball gloves, with his own money, and personally handed them out to the boys and girls in attendance.
The Junior Giants program helps kids from ages 5-18 play free, non-competitive baseball. Each county has a different amount of teams and division depending on how many families sign up. The teams play on Monday and Wednesday mornings at Barney Schwatrz Park.
Because the league is ran completely for free, everyone that helps out is an unpaid volunteer that is there because they love two things: helping kids and baseball.
“Oh the kids, the kids, watching them grow in their teamwork, seeing them trying and giving it their all, and their cheerfulness.,” said Rebecca McDonald, a volunteer coach of The Crushers, a team in the senior division, about why she continues to volunteer. “I mean the four bases, they are really doing a great job, but it's the kids that bring me out.”