Buck Martinez brought 51 years of baseball experience to ‘The Yard’ Baseball Academy Saturday, where he spent more than two hours with the University of the Fraser Valley Cascades.
The 70 year old, who enjoyed a 17 year Major League Baseball career and is now the play-by-play man for the Toronto Blue Jays, looked like he was genuinely enjoying himself as he talked with players about catching technique and the psychology of batting.
“When you see these young kids and their enthusiasm, it makes you appreciate just how great baseball has been,” Martinez said. “You know, I was in their shoes for a long time too, coming out of high school and going to junior college, so it’s great to be able to be able to come back and pass along some of my experiences from over the years.
“It’s always good to give a little bit back.”
Martinez chatted with a few Cascades individually and also addressed the entire squad.
His central message was to always work hard and find inspiration from the likes of Kevin Pillar and Jose Altuve, current Major Leaguers who were told by someone that they would never make ‘The Show.’
“Chances are you won’t be Major Leaguers,” he told them. “But you never know. You never know when you’re going to learn to hit a curveball, or throw that pitch. When you get to the ballpark, run your outfield sprints because you never know who’s watching in the bleachers.
“You just never know.”
Martinez signed autographs afterwards before heading off to Abbotsford where he was scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the UFV Cascades Baseball Fundraiser Banquet at the Quality Hotel Conference Centre.
Cascades coach Shawn Corness was thrilled to have Martinez visit The Yard.
Corness had breakfast with Martinez and spent four hours talking ball with a man who has played and coached in the big leagues.
“My biggest takeaway is development is the key,” The more you can teach the game and develop these kids and make them understand and feel the game, it’s a huge thing and I think that can be the big difference.”