Noah Ferraro has worked at baseball camps before. But for him and his teammates from the 2023 American Legion World Series champions, their participation in a Play Ball event in Dallas on Oct. 28 was a special experience.
“I remember when I was a kid, I didn’t really have these events,” Ferraro said. “Baseball is a beautiful sport; I wish I had it when I was their age. I think it’s really beneficial to them.”
The ALWS champs from League City (Tex.) Post 554 and others, including several former major league players, visited the Texas Rangers Youth Academy to work with a group of seven- to 10-year-olds from around the area. The Play Ball clinic is aimed at increasing participation in baseball.
“Mostly just been having fun (with the kids), playing some T-ball, but I think they’re starting to understand the fact that they need to hustle, above all else that’s what it is,” Ferraro said. “I think we’re teaching hustle and heart; I think that’s a good thing to learn.”
“I’ve been walking around watching the boys and they’re interacting with the younger kids; it’s something for them to give back to the community and letting them work with kids younger than them and having that knowledge to pass on. It’s great, I love it. Enjoying everything I’m seeing in there,” said League City coach Ronnie Oliver.
In addition to the Post 554 players, those helping with the clinic included other youth baseball players and former major leaguers Nick Swisher, Dexter Fowler, Michael Bourn, Dellin Betances and Derek Holland, as well as former softball star Jennie Finch.
With the event taking place in Texas in conjunction with the World Series, the experience took on added importance to the Post 554 team.
“I think it’s really beneficial to show everybody how we run here in Texas. We care about others, we love each other. I think that gets overshadowed a lot,” Ferraro said. “I’m glad we can show people we support each other very much.”
A handful of players were unable to make the trip because of college baseball obligations. But those who were able to come appreciated the opportunity to reunite.
“It’s been real good the last day and a half that these boys have been able to get back together, rehash a little bit of what went on and enjoy each other’s company. One thing we really like and develop in our program is, 10 years from now, 20 years from now, these boys will be together … they become friends for life, and it shows,” Oliver said.
The team rode a bus from League City to their hotel in Arlington on Friday, an experience Ferraro appreciated.
“It’s just so calm and chill; we don’t even have to talk to each other. We’re all together. … We’ve got each other’s back no matter what,” he said.
The team also attended Saturday night’s Game 2 of the World Series as guests of Major League Baseball, and were recognized on the scoreboard after the sixth inning of Arizona’s 9-1 win over the Texas Rangers.