NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. – Some aspiring big leaguers got a special treat on Monday, Aug. 4, as future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera visited City Park Field in New Rochelle to offer some free advice at A-Game Sports’ inaugural baseball camp.
Campers were busy with their normal routine, which includes rotating between several distinct skills stations, when the 13-time All-Star sauntered onto the field with a glove in his hand and a smile on his face; ready to share some of the wisdom he gained during his 18-year career with the Yankees.
Rivera was all over the field, demonstrating proper form on pitches, and offering bits of advice to campers about the little things such as shifting weight, footing and good glove work. The all-time saves leader even showed off some of the tips he gleaned from teammates over the years, demonstrating the proper technique to take on a ground ball to the outfield.
“We’re here to practice baseball, and that’s something that requires determination,” he told campers. “You don’t walk from place to place, you run. If your coach tells you to hustle, you hustle.”
A-Game Sports -- which was opened earlier this year by former Wall Street employees Darin Feldman and Kevin Plein -- has been running a baseball camp all summer for athletes of all ability levels. Nearly a dozen scholarships were provided to local families in need, including some from Refuge of Hope, the Rivera family church that opened in March.
The Rivera family even provided a custom cake of City Park, complete with A-Game Sports’ logo in the outfield.
“Mariano’s church knew about our scholarship program, and reached out to us with some kids in need. They heard the positive feedback from the camp, and helped us with this nice surprise,” Feldman said. “We didn’t tell the kids or the parents. Our staff only found out (Monday) morning. The looks on their faces when he walked out was just awesome.”
While the penultimate week of the six-week camp started with a surprise, it will end with a flourish, as they get set to attend a Yankees game later this week. Tyler Rodriguez, a trainer at the camp who plays for the College of St. Mary’s, said that having the opportunity to play ball with Rivera would be something they never forget.
“I grew up in Maryland, and I still remember when I was little and I got to meet Cal Ripken, Jr.,” he said. “I remember just taking it all in. This will be good for them to see that it starts with the basics and how important form and technique can be.”