LYNN — Friday’s rain may have put a damper on the conditions at Fraser Field but The Red Sox Foundation’s ‘Play Ball’ clinic made do using the turf on Manning Field.
The clinic, put on in partnership with the Roberto Clemente Foundation and Fisher College baseball gave kids a chance to work on baserunning, throwing and catching and participate in a home run derby and mini-game free of charge.
“This is all part of it for us,” Fisher College head coach Scott Dulin said. “We have core values, one of those is community service and giving back to the community however we can. Anytime we get a chance to host something that can deal with kids and giving back we are interested. It’s special on both sides from the kids participating and our players.”
Along with Fisher College players young athletes were joined on the field by former Red Sox pitcher Manny Delcarmen. Delcarmen was drafted in the second round by the Red Sox in the 2000 MLB draft, the first player to be drafted from a Boston Public High School (West Roxbury) in over 30 years, and was a member of the Red Sox 2007 World Series championship team.
“First of all, it’s always about the kids,” Delcarmen said. “Being the local boy from the city I know how important it is for these kids to be able to have role models. As one of the first kids to be drafted by the Red Sox and make it from Boston, whatever I can do for the kids it’s always awesome.
“When it’s something like this that is scheduled you never want to cancel on the kids no matter the weather,” Delcarmen said. “As long as it’s not too bad, I got two kids myself so the cold won’t bother them. We’re ready to have a good time and I’m just happy to be here.”
The clinic was just the beginning of a historic weekend of baseball in Lynn. This weekend Fraser Field and Fisher College are the hosts of the annual Roberto Clemente Cup, usually played in Puerto Rico.
“We were honored to host it as a city,” Fraser/Manning Field Facilities Manager Rich Avery said. “Mayor Tom McGee has been looking for more of this community-based stuff for the kids of the city. I thought this would be a good jumping off point for the baseball season. We have a couple other things planned in other sports also.”
Dulin, who is also on the board of directors for the Clemente Foundation, said bringing the games to the Boston area was a welcomed idea from the beginning.
“The Clemente Cup has been going for about three years now,” Dulin said. “So being on their board we have been talking about bringing it up from Puerto Rico to here. We just said, ‘Let’s do it in the Boston area.’ We have a lot of good connections in Boston. Two of our board members are here. It made sense to do it up here.”
Once the Clemente Cup was moved to Fraser Field it opened up a lot of opportunities to give back to the community and work with organizations like the Red Sox Foundation to organize Friday’s clinic.
“The idea behind this was getting local teams involved along with the Clemente Foundation,” Dulin said. “The Clemente name brings a lot of weight when you’re talking about community service efforts. Some of our other partners include the U.S. Marines and Toys for Tots. It just made sense to go out and do this.”
The Clemente Foundation has plans to host similar events across the country.
“Since we have started putting this together we have gotten calls from other cities,” Dulin said. “The Miami Dolphins and some other organizations have talked to us saying they want to mimic this. What started out just being a Clemente weekend event has turned into the beginning of the tour. This is kind of the blueprint for how things will go around the country and it starts right here in Lynn.
“That’s what is awesome about it,” Dulin said. “(Fisher) has been here for seven years now renting and calling this our home. I’m excited for us to get to turn this into something more and put Lynn out there.”