Even though high school football season just ended and we’re right smack in the middle of high school basketball and soccer season, that didn’t mean there wasn’t a little bit of time for baseball last weekend.
And that’s exactly what took place at Shelly Dunkel Field at Miami Springs Senior High School last Saturday, Dec. 7.
That’s because Yasmani Grandal, arguably the greatest player to ever put on a baseball uniform at Springs High before graduating in 2007, came back home to give a little something back.
With current Springs baseball coach WillieVasquez looking to do a little offseason fundraising for his program, an idea was hatched a month or so ago when he called Grandal.
Rather than just cut him a check, Grandal offered something perhaps with even more value to Vasquez – himself.
Thus the idea of a Yasmani Grandal Catchers Clinic was born and conducted last Saturday.
Grandal, who just finished his second season with the San Diego Padres, brought in one of his old University of Miami teammates Erick San Pedro and current University of Miami player Zach Collins to conduct a clinic for catchers and a total of nine different players from around the county showed up.
One of those was of course, Anthony Diaz, a senior and starting catcher for the Golden Hawks baseball team last year.
“He (Grandal) was a little disappointed with the turnout but I told him that’s because it was geared specifically toward catchers,” said Vasquez. “What we’re going to do now and what he offered to do is come back, perhaps some time in January and do a clinic for all kids, regardless of age or position. He’ll do a defensive clinic in the morning and offense in the afternoon. It’s just a tremendous gesture on his part.”
The clinic came at a cost of $50 per player and began at 9 a.m., lasting until just after 3 p.m. Grandal, Collins and San Pedro broke things up into groups and covered every different defensive aspect of catching from blocking balls in the dirt, to pickoff throws down to first, to throwing runners out at second.
“He’s just so good at what he does and you could tell by how attentive the kids were when he was giving instructions,” said Vasquez. “The respect that he commands is tremendous.”
Evidently as not only players but a few coaches from around Miami-Dade County including St. Brendan, Mater Academy and Ferguson showed up for the clinic as well.
“Overall we had a good turnout because a lot of people who were not actually participating showed up on Saturday as well,” said Vasquez. “We had a full concession stand set up and did very well. Three or four hundred dollars for our program can go a long ways and I think we did that much in concessions alone.”
Even when the clinic was over, Vasquez and his players were not done fundraising.
“Thanks to the generosity of the Miami Springs Optimist Club, we got involved selling Christmas trees last week and made a little bit doing that so we’re really grateful to the Optimist for reaching out and allowing our program to benefit from their generosity.”