Diamondbacks Coaches Help Teach Tomorrow's Stars Today

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For about 60 youngsters, the past week was a field of dreams for the potential baseball stars of tomorrow.

By enrolling in the Arizona Diamondbacks Training Center, the youngsters ages 7-14 had the opportunity to play and learn with four Arizona Diamondbacks instructors, including former Arizona State and professional player Rickey Nelson.

Also on hand was Payson High School baseball coach Teddy Pettet.

On the first day of the training center, Diamondbacks coaches garbed in crisp, new team uniforms handed out Arizona T-shirts, hats, ball bags and water bottles to the young campers.

Then, five days of intensive training began that had the players working through the fundamentals of hitting, fielding, throwing and base running.

When the opportunity presented itself, the instructors chimed in with playing tips they'd learn on their way to the professional ranks.

Although the emphasis of the camp was on improving individual skills, time was set aside for some friendly competition.

At the conclusion of the Tuesday session, Nelson and the other coaches divided the group into two teams and had them play a unique game in which the ball was batted off the team and there was no base running. A team could earn a point with a base hit. The defense was awarded points by catching fly balls and successfully fielding grounders.

Both sides turned in several commendable hits and defensive plays. The contest eventually ended in a 17-17 tie.

One camper, 10-year-old Jake Yeck of Phoenix, said the experience of playing his favorite sport alongside Diamondbacks coaches was a thrill.

In addition to hosting a training center in Payson, the Diamond-backs held training sessions in Show Low, Eager, Sedona, Camp Verde, Kingman, Flagstaff, Prescott and other Arizona towns.

The proceeds from the $150 fee the campers paid goes to the Arizona Diamondbacks Charities Youth Baseball Fund.

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