Berroa provides enthusiastic instruction at Baseball World
Updated 10:36 pm, Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Angel Berroa conveyed to the campers at Baseball World that almost anything is possible.
Berroa, an infielder for the Bridgeport Bluefish and former Major Leaguer Baseball player relayed his experience on the diamond and taught the campers about how to play in the infield as Baseball World's guest instructor.
Growing up in the Dominican Republic, Berroa was poor. So poor, he couldn't afford to own a baseball glove and used milk crates as a makeshift glove. Moreover, he didn't play on grass, he played on surfaces rougher than a parking lot in which rocks and gravel were prevalent.
Despite this adversity, he remained undeterred and signed with the Oakland A's organization in 1998 and made his MLB debut in 2001. Berroa played nine years in the Majors and was the 2003 Rookie of the Year was voted Rookie of the Year in 2003 as a member of the Kansas City Royals.
"It was hard because we had nothing in the Dominican," Berroa said. "It made you stronger to go forward. When you go there and start playing, you focus on going out of the Dominican and being a good player."
Most of his lesson focused on infield defense. Berroa stressed the importance of being in position to field the ball and the key for an infielder is to track the ball with his eyes. He also stressed the significance of teamwork and told the students that the glove needs to be down low.
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When fielding a ground ball, Berroa conveyed how significant it is for the infielder to secure it and how to throw it. He also stressed how importance patience is and that infielders need to always be fundamentally sound and go for the easy out. The students especially executed a line drill will where they practiced throwing under Berroa's tutelage.
Baseball World instructor Dave "Big Daddy" Rogers expounded on Berroa's instructing infielders to go for the easy out by telling the campers that they need to let the game come to them. Rogers continued by stating that sometimes fielders hurry by not going for the easy out and he finds that to be, "embarrassing."
"Angel did an outstanding job today emphasizing the importance of baseball fundamentals," Baseball World owner Vince Diaco said. "He shared the joy of playing baseball to when he was a kid."
Rogers said, "I was most impressed with his emphasis on tracking the ball, which is watching it all the way. You have to look for the ball when you field it and catch it."
Although Berroa's lesson focused mostly on fielding, he took batting practice at the plate. When he was batting, the campers were rooting for him and chanted, "Angel." After he hit a home run over the Wakeman Field fence, the kids roared in approval and on cue, went to home plate and mobbed him while he stepped on it to make the homer official.
"Having the opportunity to meet a pro player and to talk to him on what it takes to be a professional player is something they'll never forget," Diaco said.
Almost all of Diaco's campers have dreams of making it to the big leagues.
The youngsters were definitely touched by Berroa and identified with him. In fact, when he had to leave to report to the Bluefish, one kid grabbed his leg and said, "Don't go, Angel."
"He was having fun," Rogers said. "It was the love of the game that he had, which the kids saw and it helped them bond with him."
Berroa may come from a different background than some, if not most of the kids (campers come from all over), but at the end, he remembers what it was like being their age and wanted to make their dreams come true.
"It's awesome because I was a kid too and I never had the opportunity," Berroa said. "It feels good to help them and to show them things which I never had. I do it for the kids. They love me and I love those kids because they are so nice."