Every winter, the Minnesota Twins go out into the Lee County community and give young kids the opportunity to learn baseball from the pros.
On Saturday, at the North Fort Myers Community Park, members of the Twins Minor League coaching staff and some players, will conduct an annual clinic for all young players from 1 to 3 p.m.
Attendees will be divided into groups according to age and taught the fundamentals of fielding, hitting and pitching, the same things it has done for years.
The team holds these clinics over the course of four weeks at various Lee and Collier county locations and later at their spring training complex in Fort Myers.
Mark Weber, who works in community relations for the Twins, said the team has done these clinics for about a decade (they have their true roots dating back to when the team moved to Minnesota in 1961), but have ramped up their numbers in recent years, as Southwest Florida is crucial to what they do.
"We try to spread it around. It's a grass roots initiative we try to bring around to everyone," Weber said. "We bring the staff, coaches and younger players and teach the kids the fundamentals. It's our way to give back to the community."
Last year's area clinic was held at Donaldson Park on the North/Cape line, where more than 100 children took part. At least as many are expected to participate this year.
Among those expected to be there are Tommy Watkins, a local legend from Riverdale High School who now manages the Twins farm team in Cedar Rapids, John Wilkins, who holds the teams' clinics in Minnesota, and former big leaguer Stu Cliburn, who coaches the farm team in Rochester.
Jason Estes, new president for North Fort Myers Babe Ruth, said this year is simply their turn, and that the clinic is for the kids who have signed up for the spring season, which begins on Feb. 11.
"We really have an interest in trying to develop the quality of baseball here and having professionals here goes a long way for these players," Estes said.
The clinic is free and everyone there will receive a free baseball for autographs.
For more information, contact Estes at 859-229-4169.