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Huckaby coming back to give back

Profits earned by former pro’s camp to benefit Little Leagues

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POSTED March 12, 2009 4:17 a.m.
Ken Huckaby is returning home to Manteca for a day, equipped with a wealth of knowledge from his 17 years of professional baseball experience.

He wants to share what he knows about defensive mechanics, and he wants to give back to the youth baseball community in the process.

The 1989 Manteca High graduate and recent Manteca’s Sports Heroes Hall of Distinction inductee will hold a defensive skills boot camp with Manteca Baseball Softball Academy March 22 at Sierra High.

MBSA owner Greg Wilson said that Huckaby first approached Sierra varsity head coach Jack Thomson about putting on an affordable clinic for high-school aged athletes. Huckaby also contacted Wilson, and the two agreed to make it a joint effort.

“He’s doing it for the right reasons,” Wilson said. “This could possibly be an annual thing.”

Those reasons are to help improve the play of current high school ball players and to split all profits earned to the three Little League organizations in town.

The first of four 2 ½-hour sessions begins at 8 a.m., with the last one ending at 6:45 p.m. There will be a 10-player limit for each player, and the cost is $50.

“He has played under some elite managers at the pro level, and for him to be able to share that knowledge gained over the last 15-20 years for $50 is a steal,” Wilson said.

Huckaby was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 22nd round of the 1991 amateur draft and toured with eight different big-league clubs. His most recent stop was with the Kansas City Royals, who signed him in January 2008.

He held a .222 career average in 427 at-bats, but he was known for his defensive skills and ability to handle pitchers at catcher.

“It doesn’t matter what position you play; what Ken is going to teach these kids will translate,” Wilson said. “With the basic set of skills they already have, he’ll be able to enhance them because he knows all the positions well.”

Wilson said the March 22 camp will be different from most. The goal is for the players to learn how to play with full-speed-ahead effort but make it look smooth and natural.

“A lot of kids have no problem playing at 100 percent, but they look out of control while doing that,” Wilson said. “They don’t know how to maintain their physical poise while going 100 percent.

“Ken has acquired the skills over the years to make that happen, and he wants to share those tips with these kids. We’re bringing a different twist to a defensive skills camp.”

Huckaby currently lives in Arizona, where he owns and operates the Baseball Boot Camp (www.azbaseballbootcamp.com) in Chandler.

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