Toronto Blue Jays alumnus Duane Ward, Rance Mulliniks and Jesse Barfield shared stories of their experiences while helping the Brooks Bombers raise funds Saturday for the organization.
Both Mulliniks and Ward also took time out to work with Brooks Composite High baseball players Friday at a winter ball clinic held at D A Welding. Barfield did not arrive in Brooks until Saturday.
The three discussed the importance of community, volunteers and parents and family in baseball.
Ward and other Blue Jays alumnus do Super Camps across the country during the summer. He said they reach out to organizations, coaches and parents to get involved.
This is what the Brooks Bombers are trying to do as well.
“You guys are a part of this. They are in your town, they are in your backyard. Come out and be a part of this.”
Ward said the Blue Jays tried to do the best they could for the communities they went into and this is what Jason Thomasen and Jason Wandler are doing for the Bombers.
He said community support, no matter how big or little it is, means a lot to the players who play for the Bombers.
He said youth in baseball programs are the future and this is why he, Jesse, Rance and the other alumnus travel across the country.
Mulliniks said his definition of a volunteer is someone who gives of his time in the service to others without expecting anything in return.
He grew up in a small community of 1,200 people where three ball leagues were operated with the support of volunteers.
Mulliniks said it was the people who were willing to give of their time in service to young people made it possible.
One couple organized all three programs and made sure everyone had uniforms while other individuals coached, umpired or took time off work to drive teams to state competitions.
“It made for a wonderful experience. An opportunity that they otherwise would not have had.”
Mulliniks talked about how he and Ward had a chance to watch
Wandler and Thomasen work with high school baseball players Friday.
“It was really a joy to watch them work with these young athletes trying to help them be better baseball players.”
He said work with athletes and holding events like the celebrity dinner can only happen with the support of volunteers.
Mulliniks said when he looks at this community, it is obvious there are a lot of people willing to donate of their time.
Barfield, who has one son who is a former major league player and another who is close to being one, closed the discussion by talking about the importance of parents and family in baseball.
He said it all starts with the parents and urged them to tell their children the truth and let them know baseball is not the only thing in the world.
“It is important but life is more important. School is more important. The chances of you making it are very slim.”
Barfield encouraged parents to build their children up and to get them in a situation where they can have fun and be successful.