A Memphis program is taking a swing at teaching inner city youth important life lessons through the game of baseball.
The Memphis Sluggers program welcomed former and current Major League Baseball players to the diamond in the Bluff City for the program's inaugural event on Saturday.
"Really it's about preparing young men and eventually women for a productive and progressive life using baseball, academics and a healthy lifestyle to prepare them for that," says Reggie Williams, Memphis Sluggers CEO and Milwaukee Brewers Base Running and Outfield Coordinator.
The more than 80 young players who attended picked up the messages as quick as they scooped up an outfield ground ball.
"If you be really disrespectful and you're doing a game or contest they'll say, ‘You're disqualified,'" says sixth grader Samuel Rostro, who says he'll apply these respect lessons with his friends' parents and his own.
Williams says some young sluggers may be star players now, but they need to be prepared if the big league isn't in the big picture.
"Sports, again, is not guaranteed. You can be a great athlete, but that doesn't always mean you're going to make it to the big leagues. So with what we're doing, they'll have a plan B and that plan B is having a proper quality education to move you further along in life," he says.
The kids are taking that message to heart. Eighth grader Jack Skyless says, "They're saying make sure you get all your degrees, make sure you get a good year in college."