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Kids learn baseball/softball skills, have fun alongside Mayor Stovall and elected leaders

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Volunteers at the stations helped the children learn new skills like hitting and catching. Gresham-area kids hit and caught the ball, ran the bases and had a whole bunch of fun out in the sun during the return of an annual event.

Play Ball Gresham was held from 1-3:30 p.m. Thursday, Jun 16, at Pat Pfeifer Park, 424 N.E. 172nd Ave. The free baseball and softball clinic is for kids age 5 to 15, and is geared toward those with little to no experience.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Gresham kids, ages 5-15, enjoyed an afternoon of baseball and softball during the annual Play Ball Gresham Thursday afternoon, June 16.  The goal is to get kids active while learning new skills.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Gerald Bolden, mentor coordinator for Friends of Baseball, loves sharing his passion for baseball and softball.  "The best part of today is giving these beginners the inspiration to play the game," said Gerald Bolden, mentor coordinator for Friends of Baseball, which helps run the stations at Play Ball Gresham. "At this camp — and with baseball in general — we want the kids to get all those life lessons like how to deal with failure and keep your head up.

"We are creating world-class citizens," he added.

The nearly 100 children who registered received a Play Ball T-shirt, fun gear, ballpark lunch and rotated through the stations that not only taught the basics of the sport, but had them all running around with beaming smiles. They swung off a tee, fielded ground balls, competed in foot races, threw and caught with mitts, and ran the bases.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - The participants at Play Ball Gresham learned skills at a series of stations helmed by Friends of Baseball volunteers.  The volunteers helped keep the energy high throughout the afternoon, including Mayor Travis Stovall who manned the mound with his blistering pitches. Councilors Janine Gladfelter, Sue Piazza and Mario Palmero, a former high school ace, also lended a hand — or mitt.

For Stovall, the outing was a way to connect with his youngest constituents and tune up his own skills.

"I can't wait to see the president," one of the youngest campers shouted out during a hitting station.

"The mayor, but close enough," Bolden gently corrected with a smile.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Gresham Mayor Travis Stovall not only manned the mound, he also connected with many of the young campers at Play Ball Gresham.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Marcell Frazier, Gresham youth violence prevention coordinator, was wowed by a campers swing.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - It was all smiles in the dugout as Play Ball Gresham had kids making new friends all afternoon.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Gresham kids, ages 5-15, enjoyed an afternoon of baseball and softball during the annual Play Ball Gresham Thursday afternoon, June 16.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Gresham kids, ages 5-15, enjoyed an afternoon of baseball and softball during the annual Play Ball Gresham Thursday afternoon, June 16.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Gresham kids, ages 5-15, enjoyed an afternoon of baseball and softball during the annual Play Ball Gresham Thursday afternoon, June 16.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - One of the youngest campers at Play Ball Gresham lined up his shot before taking a monster swing.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Gresham kids, ages 5-15, enjoyed an afternoon of baseball and softball during the annual Play Ball Gresham Thursday afternoon, June 16.


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