When I was a kid, the Giants used to offer free youth clinics every summer. We’d see posters up notifying us that it would be at one of the local parks and that weekday afternoon there would be a couple dozen kids waiting to learn about some baseball fundamentals from the players.
It was pretty cool, there were usually three guys and they’d rotate between groups. One would cover hitting, another pitching, and the third did fielding. We mainly just watched but occasionally someone would get pulled out to help demonstrate something. No problems keeping our attention though, These were real Giants Players In Uniform and we certainly didn’t care that it was always the guys from the September section of the 40-man roster.
We also never had any idea who the players would be. This made autograph hunting kind of difficult. I figured out pretty quickly that Mike Sadek, as the community representative,* was usually there. So I brought one of his cards to be signed one year. I forget if I went searching for it or if I came across it in a pack. Either way I was happy to be one of the few kids with a card as opposed to the kids getting signatures on their gloves.
*Which is why I think he was the one vamping at the Atlee Hammaker signing.
Sadek must’ve liked these events since he actually got to be a player instead of the handler for a change. He covered the fielding portion of the clinic and I still remember his tips about always trying to come up with a four-seam grip before throwing, covering the front corner of the plate before a play there, and holding the ball in my throwing hand AND my glove when having to tag someone in a collision. I wonder now, 25 years later, how much of those tips about how to survive a collisions at the plate are still valid.
The other two players were usually less memorable. I remember Mike Kingery one year but everyone else? Zip. When finally I improvised an autograph card in 1991 (I was a volunteer camp counselor at the park where the clinic was so I wasn’t prepared for the clinic that year). The best part about this card is that it records that Trevor Wilson was the pitching instructor (actually not a bad player to show up at the clinic) and Tony Perezchica took care of hitting. No I don’t remember their lessons either.
Anyway, the back of the card notes a very important thing to always be aware of when autograph hunting—namely make sure your pen is working. I had to borrow a beat-up Sharpie for this and on that hot day it kept drying out on me.