The Mets came to the Bronx for the Subway Series this past weekend, but earlier in the week, players Scott Hairston and Jason Pridie did their part to win over the hearts and minds of some borough youngsters.
On Wednesday, May 18 the ballplayers visited M.S. 101 on Lafayette Avenue to conduct a softball clinic in the school’s gym. They hit grounders, threw soft toss and gave instruction to both male and female sixth grade softball players.
“I think it’s awesome,” said M.S. 101 principal Kim Hewitt. “It’s such a great opportunity to have professionals come in and give advice. They’re role models, because for a lot of kids this age, their dream is to be professional athletes.”
The visit was part of the Mets’ School Is Amazing program that sends players to public schools across the city to interact with students to promote both athletics and academics.
Both Pridie and Hairston are in their first seasons with the Mets. Due to injuries to regulars, 27-year-old Pridie was called up to the Mets in late April after starting the season in the minor leagues.
He has impressed coaches and management enough to start most games in centerfield over the past month.
“It’s great to be out here and see the expressions on these kids’ faces,” Pridie said. “We were once their age too, so any time you can do something like this, it’s great.”
Hewitt said that Pridie and Hairston were role models and their presence definitely made the day extraordinary for the students.
Not all athletes embrace that role or feel that they should be idols. Former NBA star Charles Barkley famously said “I’m not a role model.” However, Hairston feels that for at least some kids, including the ones at M.S. 101, he is.
“I think it depends on the kid,” Hairston said. “A lot of these kids do have aspirations to play ball.”
Hairston, 31, has played parts of eight seasons in the majors.
“In all actuality, people are people,” he said. “We had to work hard to get to the major leagues,” he said. “It’s important to get out here and interact with the kids. You can see on their faces that they had a good time. I had a good time.”
The Mets didn’t have quite as good a time in the south Bronx the following weekend. They lost two out of three to the Bronx Bombers.
©2011 Community News Group