A chance to meet a former MVP, Gold Glove winner, 11-time All Star, and triple crown winner is the chance of a lifetime, and the opportunity arrived in Detroit on a Sunday morning for kids ages 6-10 at the Corner Ballpark, the former location of Tiger Stadium.
On Sept. 30, 120 kids had the opportunity to compete in a series of baseball related activities for the opportunity to meet Detroit Tigers’ first baseman Miguel Cabrera the next afternoon.
The cold and wet morning may have felt dreadful for the children and parents, but the passion never left the kids as they competed.
Jose Rivera, director of the Miggy Ball Foundation event, opened up the day by explaining that the drills would be used to measure consistency of the young athletes by setting up targets for arm accuracy, direction of hitting, fielding and catching. The Miggy Ball Foundation’s goal is to teach kids about active sports in a recreational way.
“We’re not mentioning how hard [it is] and we’re not here as scouts, but to teach them accuracy and consistency,” said Rivera.
Wayne State University outfielder Ryan Mergener and his teammates had the opportunity to participate as a mentor/coach for the foundation for the day. Mergener said he loves seeing commitment from such young kids, even under difficult circumstances like the cold and rainy weather.
“I think it's a wonderful for my teammates and I to be able to talk to kids and share the same passion,” he said.
While the kids stayed warm from running around, the baseball parents were left shivering. However, the weather didn't stop parents like Elizabeth Suarez and Amber Hawkins from watching their sons, Luis and Jermaine. Both mothers noted how community events such as this are likely to benefit the youth of Detroit.
“A lot of kids don't have the opportunity to come to events like this so I think it's a wonderful program for the kids of Detroit,” Suarez said.
Standing in the cold ultimately paid off for Hawkins when she got the call that her son Jermaine was chosen as one of the final 60 kids to return Monday afternoon.The finalists got the chance to not only meet Cabrera, but to also receive training and tips from the former MVP. Jermaine he was able to notice his own game and improvement from this event.
“He comes up to me and says ‘Mom, I have really seen improvement on my hitting’ and it's always good to hear that” said Hawkins.
On Oct. 1, Cabrera finally arrived at the Corner Ballpark to watch the final 60 kids who qualified for Day 2 of Miggy Ball in Detroit. For Cabrera the goal is to be a bigger part of the community and to have fun with the kids. He hopes to be a motivating factor for the kids and believes it is important for them to have role models. Cabrera and the Miggy Ball Foundation announced that this event will be an annual event for the kids of Detroit.
“When I was a kid I dreamed to have something like this in my neighborhood but I didn't, to have something to motivate me more as a kid,” said Cabrera. “This event isn’t just about learning basics of baseball but learning basics of life and learning our value.”