Close to 150 kids and adults turned out for the La Jolla Youth Baseball Holiday Clinic on Dec. 23 at Cliffridge Park. There was a tremendous amount of excitement at the Pony field as Cleveland Indians superstar centerfielder Bradley Zimmer, Kansas City Royals power pitcher Kyle Zimmer, San Francisco Giants infielder Jose Vizcaino Jr., and Los Angeles Angels infielder Colin Walsh returned to the fields they played on as kids to teach the new batch of young athletes the finer points of baseball.
There were many highlights, which started with Eric Zimmer (father of Bradley and Kyle) introducing each of the players and telling stories about his coaching days at La Jolla High. Also joining the Major Leaguers were 18-year Major League veteran Jose Vizcaino and pitcher Brooks Pounders (Angels and Royals). The players provided quality instruction on hitting, pitching, infield and outfield to the La Jolla kids who ranged in age from 6 to 14.
After completing the instruction phase of the clinic, the kids gathered around the players and asked their heroes some questions. The best responses came when the athletes recalled a vivid memory about their playing days in La Jolla. Bradley Zimmer reminisced about a three-homer game on the Bronco field while Kyle Zimmer recalled a particularly funny moment catching his brother. Jose Vizcaino Jr. recalled getting plunked by a Bradley Zimmer fastball and Colin Walsh remembered those great days as a kid being at the fields all day on Saturdays.
After the questions, Bradley, Jose, Brooks and Colin put on a massive display of power hitting. With Jose Vizcaino Sr. pitching, the boys proceeded to pound pitch after pitch deep into the canyons beyond the outfield fences. The kids and parents were in awe as the prodigious blasts soared farther and farther with each round of the mini home-run contest. Vizcaino Jr. ended the contest with an estimated 475 blast over the 270-foot left field fence.
The pros finished the day by signing autographs and posing for pictures. All donated game-used memorabilia — including bats, cleats and hats — that were raffled off to raise money for the 2018 La Jolla baseball season. Several more clinics are planned with the UCSD Tritons, the La Jolla High Vikings and 1998 Rookie of the Year Ben Grieve.
Registration for the 2018 season is underway at ljyb.org.