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Learning from the big leaguers

LIHUE — J.C. Crouch of Kauai Harley-Davidson said volunteering to help at the free baseball clinic is something he’s always wanted to do.

“I was involved with Major League Baseball,” Crouch said. “It was mostly through the business end with the Padres and some of the minor leagues. Working in the field is something I always thought about doing ever since coming to Kauai. I’m happy everything worked out so I could be here.”

Crouch was one of several Kauai notables who have ties to the MLB who turned out to help Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association players Rene Gonzales, Albie Lopez, and Ron Robinson host about 100 young athletes to a free baseball clinic at the Lihue County Park.

“We’re making stops at all of the islands,” said Devon Thrasher of the MLB PAA. “We’re being sponsored by the Chevy dealers and have three former MLB players from the Mainland leading the clinic. We’re happy to have the former MLB players from Kauai join us in helping the young people.”

Joining the Mainland players, Kauai offered help through former big leaguer Glenn Mickens, garbed in his Dodgers jacket, former Texas Rangers catcher Larry Ephan, who coaches for Waimea High School, Kauai police officer Tyler Yates, a former pitcher for the Pirates, and Jack Hodges, recently inducted into the California Community College Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

Players were rotated through a variety of events working on skills in fielding, base running, catching, pitching and hitting. Parents watching from the fence lines and from within the covered grandstand only served to motivate the players.

“This is wonderful,” Crouch said. “This is just the right amount of students. If we had too many, they would not get the attention they deserve. These players want to play, and they are eager to learn. If they remember just one thing from today, it will be worth everything we do.”

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