Yasiel Puig keeps connecting with community
Back in 2014, before his first full season in the big leagues, Yasiel Puig was part of the Los Angeles Dodgers Community Caravan that included the Dodgers Dreamfield Dedication of Jesse Owens Park and a clinic for boys and girls.
Fast forward to 2016, and a lot has changed. Puig is in his fourth MLB season, and those playing on the Dreamfield are now Dodgers RBI players. But much has also remained the same: Puig and the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation remain a constant in the community.
On June 23, Puig surprised 100 Dodgers RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) players at the Dodgers Dreamfield at Jesse Owens Park. Just one day after being activated from the disabled list after to a hamstring injury, Puig led a baseball skills clinic and brought gifts from Nike.
“High five!” “That a boy!” “And two hands!” These phrases and more echoed from Puig’s booming voice. Many were impressed by his effective coaching skills. Puig wouldn’t move on to the next kid until he was sure the Dodgers RBI player got the fundamentals right. It was evident that he wanted to interact with each child.
“You can’t imagine how amazing this is for our kids to see a real Dodger at their park,” said Stan Brooks, founder and president of Hollywood Indies Little League. “It gives the community a sense of pride and purpose to see a real life hero of theirs, Yasiel Puig, at their park.”
Puig exemplifies the spirit of many of the Dodger players, LADF executive director Nichol Whiteman believes.
“Our players deeply care about what our kids are doing and what is available to them,” Whiteman said. “Many take their time to come out to parks and participate in activities like this. We take great pride in what our players are doing on the field. This is why the players we have on our Dodger team are so special.”
Said Puig in Spanish after the event: “I feel really happy, because the kids make you remember the time when you were a kid, and it feels nice to be able to be with the kids when we are given these types of opportunities.”
Puig’s appearance is part of the Dodgers RBI program, aimed at giving young people from underserved and diverse communities opportunities to play baseball and softball, while also providing education, life resources and one of a kind experiences.
The Dreamfield at Jesse Owens Park is one of 44 parks in L.A. that the Foundation has created, with Nos. 43 and 44 having been dedicated in early June at Belvedere Park in East Los Angeles.
Together the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation, the Dodger players, and community can make great things happen. This type of collaboration and unity exemplify the spirit of Los Angeles.
For more on Dodgers RBI and LADF updates, please visit dodgers.com/ladf and follow LADF on social media: Twitter (@DodgersFdn), Instagram (dodgersfoundation) and Facebook (LosAngelesDodgersFoundation).