WALLA WALLA - About 75 kids ages 5-12 got to play on the same field with the Walla Walla Sweets on Friday at the first Walla Walla Sweets Free Community Baseball Clinic, sponsored by the Sweets and the Exchange Club of Walla Walla.
"It's not a bad thing," Sweets infielder Jordan Dreiling said, pointing out that even though he had just gotten in at 1 a.m. from a series in Yakima, it was worth waking up early for those who look up to him.
"It's fun to come out here and play baseball with the kids. It's nice to be a role model, where the kids look up to you," Dreiling said.
Look up they did, as the 75 kids practiced pitching, hitting, throwing and looking up to catch pop flys.
There was even the chance to play a little ball in the outfield, where mitts where used for bases, and Turner Edwards, 10, hit a triple.
Turner was followed by Alyssa Shenefield, 10, who singled. That set Turner running to home plate, or in this case home mitt.
It didn't matter that the action was nowhere near Turner at the time; he was going to slide. And he did. Somewhere a parent probably frowned, thinking of the grass stains.
"It is good to give back to the community, to teach the kids and show them some new skills," Dreiling added.
His sentiments where shared by a half-dozen of his teammates, who made up the volunteer coaching staff.
Members of the Exchange Club of Walla Walla also felt it was important to support the community, which is why they paid for the event for all 75 kids, along with a free lunch of a hot dog, pretzels and drink.
"It's great for the community," said Pat Graham, as he watched his son, Payton, 6, who was waiting in line at the batting practice station.
"He's the second Ichiro, the taller Ichiro," Graham said, pointing to Payton, who was wearing one of two matching Ichiro jerseys seen at the batting station.
"The kids just think it's a fun thing, to be out here with the Sweets, to be out here on the same field with the guys." he added.
Alfred Diaz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 526-8325.