By Sid Ventura
For Yahoo! Southeast Asia
Retired baseball superstar Ken Griffey, Jr., in town to conduct a series of baseball clinics, liked what he saw with the young kids who were fortunate enough to train with him. And as long as they get the proper training, he doesn't see why one of them can't make it big one day.
"I look at the coaches here and how energetic they are and how serious they are about everything. I see that there's great potential. All the kids out here," said the former Mariners slugger.
Griffey added that love for the sport was also a must if our budding pitchers, short stops, catchers and sluggers are to progress. He was impressed with the skill level, but stressed that these skills must be continuously nurtured. "You gotta go out and play and learn and keep playing the game. I look at it from my point of view, one day there will be somebody from here in the big leagues. And hopefully it's somebody from the days that we've been here that will do it and we can say, 'Hey, we were there when he started.'"
Girffey's companion, former Montreal Expos pitcher Joe Logan, also saw some potential. "I've seen some very strong arms," he said of the adolescent pitchers at the clinic. "I've seen some kids who really have an idea of what they're doing. They can throw the baseball. It's just some mechanical things that they're gonna need to work on to keep them strong and allow them to be consistent, because that's what baseball's about, being consistent."
Griffey and Logan were in town courtesy of the US Embassy, and they were a hit with local baseball enthusiasts. "Our purpose is, through the United States Embassy and Sports United, to share goodwill and ambassadorship, sharing our expertise in baseball," Logan said.
"I can't thank the people here enough for allowing me to come here and share my knowledge," Griffey added. "You know, I've learned a lot the last couple of days. I was more impressed with the girls. They came out swinging and throwing and I was like, 'Okay.' They were focused."
The Filipinos' physique, always a disadvantage in the national pastime of basketball, isn't an issue in baseball, which is why Griffey believes we should concentrate on developing the sport more.
"It doesn't matter how big you are or how small you are," said the 13-time All Star. "If you've got heart to play this game, you're gonna do well. And I think that's been proven by the Japanese and how they play. They've been world baseball champs twice. And if you execute, you're gonna win. It doesn't matter if you're 6'6" or you're 5'6". If you can play, you can play."
Added Logan: "There is no doubt that the Filipino should take back baseball, because baseball is like life. There's a life-learning lesson versus winning and losing."
When asked what he first thought of the outfield wall of the Rizal Baseball Stadium, which is adorned with the names of baseball legends who once hit homeruns over it, Griffey said like every other wall, he wanted to hit over it. And he did a few times, but not before reading the names of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. "I did look at it (the wall)," he said. "Big names there."
After his hitting exhibition where he sent balls sailing over the wall straight to the parking lot of the Rizal Memorial Coliseum, perhaps Griffey's name should be placed there, too.
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