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Huckaby’s clinic a success

Rain doesn’t keep kids from meeting former pro

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Huckaby’s clinic a success

Former professional baseball player and Manteca High graduate Ken Huckaby instructs Cody Luisotti on how to work through an agility drill during the second day of the Manteca Baseball Boot Camp Cli...

JONAMAR JACINTO/The Bulletin/


POSTED April 9, 2009 4:15 a.m.
Ken Huckaby brought his Baseball Boot Camp from sunny Chandler, Ariz. to rainy Manteca Tuesday and Wednesday.

Despite the weather, around 40 kids, many of who signed up for a second session, braved the elements to learn how the 18-year veteran of professional baseball physically and mentally prepared to get to where he got in his career.

The Manteca Baseball Boot Camp Clinic took place at Sierra High when the weather cooperated during the earlier sessions Wednesday, and the last two were moved to Manteca Baseball Softball Academy. MBSA owner Greg Wilson served as an instructor.

Profits earned from the two-day clinic will be split between the three Little League organizations in town — Manteca, Northgate and Spreckels Park.

“Thank goodness we had Greg’s facility to be able to go indoors,” said Huckaby, who graduated from Manteca High in 1989. “We ended up getting some good work inside with the kids. The good thing is that some of the kids we got (Tuesday) came back today to work outside.”

Whether it was inside or out, Huckaby was pleased with the turnout.

“At the last minute we had a swarm of them come in,” he said, adding that 16 kids (six over the originally-planned maximum of 10) registered for the third of four sessions Thursday. “I thought the turnout was outstanding, we had more kids than I thought we would.

“I’m impressed with the caliber (of athletes). I’ve been away from Manteca baseball for a longtime, and I was really impressed to come back to this.”

Both days started at 8 a.m. with 2 ½-hour sessions for catchers. Huckaby was known for his work behind the plate and with pitchers while with eight different Major League clubs, including the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks World Series championship team.

“I showed them a lot of drills that I did in the offseason, and they realized how hard it was,” Huckaby said. “It’s a lot of monotonous and grueling work.”

The three sessions that followed on each day consisted of drills that improve ability, defensive fielding mechanics and base running.

Young players from the city’s three Little Leagues attended, as did freshman- and sophomore-level athletes from Manteca, East Union and Sierra high schools. Wilson said players from Escalon and Ripon high schools also showed up.

Huckaby and Wilson basically ran the same drills for every session but catered to the ages of each player.

“For the younger age groups you just want the kids to have a good time while giving them the basic instructions,” Huckaby said. “For the older kids I feel that I can offer them a little more insight and some secrets that I used when I played to get ahead.

“If they can go home and remember one or two things they learned here for the rest of their lives, then I would feel that I accomplished something.”

Anyone who missed out need not worry.

Huckaby wants to return in the future, perhaps as early as this summer if his schedule allows it. Huckaby coaches his 12-year-old son Kyle’s Chandler National Little League team and operates his Baseball Boot Camp academy.

“I’ll talk with Greg, but without a doubt I want to get something together and do this again,” he said. “Maybe we’ll have something over the summer and make it more of an event — one big clinic for two days with a hundred kids and some of my staff members from Arizona who are also ex-Major Leaguers.

“We can have one heck of a clinic here in Manteca.”
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