Major League stars to run London youth clinics
Wed 24 Oct 2012
Four Major League Baseball players, including Rick VandenHurk of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Jeremy Guthrie of the Kansas City Royals, Roger Bernadina of the Washington Nationals and Chris Dickerson of the New York Yankees will visit London on 16 and 17 November to participate in instructional clinics for young baseball and softball players. The clinics are part of the third annual European Big League Tour, which was conceived by VanderHurk, a native of the Netherlands.
VanderHurk created the European Big League Tour, with the assistance of the Major League Baseball Players Association and Major League Baseball, to share his passion for the game with young people throughout Europe. The 2012 European Big League Tour is stopping in London for the first time, following a stop in Rotterdam on 9-10 November.
The Tour is being hosted in London by BSUK, LondonSports.com and Academy Baseball, and is once again supported by Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association. Additional Major League baseball players may participate in the tour; they will be announced at a later date.
Reception and clinics
On Friday, 16 November, the players will be available to speak with London and national media outlets, before attending a reception hosted by BSUK, where they will participate in a question-and-answer session for British baseball and softball leaders and coaches.
The exclusive reception will be held at The Grange Holborn Hotel in London with drinks and canapes being served before the Q&A session with the players. Tickets are available now and can be purchased through BSUK's website here.
On Saturday afternoon, 17 November, the Major Leaguers will be at the heart of two youth clinics for players aged 8-16 at the London Soccerdome, Europe's largest indoor football facility, situated next to the O2 arena on the Greenwich Peninsula.
The first clinic, from 12.00-2.00 pm, will be held primarily for players from the youth baseball and softball league London Sports, while the second clinic, from 3.30-5.30 pm, will be held for players from BSUK's baseball and softball Academies and BBF youth leagues.
The clinics will cover pitching, catching, hitting and defense, and will include an opportunity for those attending to put questions to the visiting Big Leaguers. Up to 125 young players are expected at each session.
The clinics are free and registration will be on a first-come, first-served basis through the European Big League Tour website.
Fulfilling a dream
The idea of the European Big League Tour originated with Dutch pitcher VandenHurk, from Eindhoven, who fulfilled his own dream of playing in the Major Leagues after being signed by the Florida Marlins in 2002. Rick wanted to bring that same dream and passion to young players in Europe by giving them the chance to meet and practice with some of his Major League peers.
It took a couple of years to bring his idea to fruition, but in 2010, with support from MLB, the Major League Baseball Players Association and sponsors, the first European Big League Tour took place with clinics held in Eindhoven, Rotterdam and Haarlem in the Netherlands and Antwerp in Belgium. The clinics were hugely successful, with over 1200 enthusiastic young players attending. The Major League stars taking part in the first Tour included Florida Marlins catcher John Baker, Baltimore Orioles All-Star outfielder Adam Jones, outfielders Roger Bernadina from the Washington Nationals and Greg Halman from the Seattle Mariners and former All-Star outfielder Brady Anderson.
In 2011, the second edition of the European Big League Tour came to the Netherlands with clinics in Utrecht and Amsterdam, followed by sessions in Prague in the Czech Republic and Parma in Italy. The players taking part included returnees Adam Jones, Greg Halman and Roger Bernadina, as well as sluggers Prince Fielder from the Detroit Tigers and Giancarlo Stanton from the Florida Marlins, along with Colorado Rockies outfielder Dexter Fowler and a former six-time All-Star, Bobby Bonilla.