BARSTOW • Barstow is getting its own version of Major League Baseball's spring training this weekend.
The City of Barstow is holding a Baseball Skills Clinic at the Robert A. Sessions Memorial Sportspark from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday. The event is open to boys and girls from 5 to 18-years-old. Registration starts at 8 a.m. and costs $20. In addition to the clinic a silent auction and raffle will be held. Kids are asked to bring a glove, bat, baseball attire, drinks and food.
The clinic will feature a who's who of former Barstow High School baseball players including: Dino Ebel, the current third base coach for the Los Angeles Angels; Matt Mitchell, a pitcher playing for the Kansas City Royals farm system; Aaron Sanchez, a pitcher playing for the Toronto Blue Jays farm system; Frank Maldonado, the infield and base running coach for the University of South Florida; and Danny Norman, a former player for the Mets and Expos; as well as several coaches and past players on hand to help.
Maldonado was instrumental in starting the clinic with city employee Terri Peralta. He and Peralta held a free clinic on a smaller scale two years ago. Maldonado said that the pair had been discussing a way to bring all of the coaches and players that have advanced into the college and professional levels of the sport back to teach the kids.
"I grew up playing here and I love this city," Maldonado said. "I want to be able to help kids in the same way I was helped by coaches along the way. There's a lot of high quality baseball players coming out of Barstow and the High Desert and it's great to get them all back here for this clinic."
Ebel echoed Maldonado's sentiment about the need to return a favor to their hometown.
"I'm always interested in coming back to Barstow and giving back to my community," Ebel said. "I always tell people I haven't worked a day in my life. I love what I do. I'm lucky to be able to do this job and I enjoy helping others in the sport. The kids are going to get instruction and plenty of information. There's so many different levels and positions represented in the people holding the clinic. I'm excited about the end of the day when the kids and even parents get a chance to ask questions. I'm pretty sure we'll have enough experience up there to answer anything they want to know. They'll get to see that you can make it if you're from Barstow and have the dedication."
Ebel has worked with players from the high school to MLB level including Barstow's own Sanchez and Mitchell. Mitchell said that Mike Shipley, who played for the University of Tulsa and will be on hand Saturday, and Ebel both helped him as he went through Little League, high school baseball and into the A and AA levels of minor league baseball.
"I always worked with people when I was coming up," Mitchell said. "They had a huge impact on my life. I think it'll be a huge eye opener for a lot of these kids who may not have the access to some of these people like I did growing up. They'll get to see pitchers like myself and Aaron. We're just two young kids. They can look at us and see that dreams do come true."