Saturday, August 13, 2011

Kevin Mitchell returns to his baseball roots at Douglaston Community Day

The image of Kevin Mitchell ripping a single to center field following Gary Carter in the tenth inning of Game Six of the 1986 World Series is as bright for Mets fans as the sun shining off of his gold teeth while he joyfully signed autographs and posed for pictures with seemingly everyone in the enclave of Douglaston, N.Y. earlier this Saturday.

Mitchell was on hand to lend support to the Douglaston Community Day, which was a fundraiser to benefit Darryl Strawberry’s Foundation, which benefits autism research, as well the local little league and other community groups.

Kevin Mitchell / N. Diunte
During a break from his autograph session in front of Strawberry’s Sports Grill, Mitchell discussed his excitement about being a participant in the day’s events.

“It’s always a good thing when you can come back especially for a charitable event, doing something for one of your old teammates, Darryl Strawberry,” said Mitchell, who slugged 47 home runs en route to winning 1989 National League Most Valuable Player award. "It’s an honor that I am here and that there are still fans that want autographs from us. It’s been a decade [since I last played], you know, but I feel good about it.”

Mitchell was signed by the Mets in 1980 after being seen playing softball in the rough section of San Diego. He made his debut in 1984 and played a valuable utility role for the 1986 World Championship team. He was traded after the 1986 season to the San Diego Padres for outfielder Kevin McReynolds. Even though he only spent one full season with the Mets [1986], Mitchell had great memories of playing in the Big Apple.

“My [most] memorable thing is just New York period,” he said. "The fans here are great. This is where I first got drafted by the Mets. I was able to come and play with New York. Once I got traded from New York, I was able to play anywhere. By coming here as a rookie, everything else was a piece of cake because of the fans. If you ain’t out there giving it 100%, they’re going to let you know.”

As for now, Mitchell is working with children in San Diego, sharing some of the knowledge he learned after 13 seasons in the majors.

“I’m coaching travel baseball, I’ve got my own travel team called the Gorillas. I’ve got 8-16 [year olds]. The kids that won the Little League World Series, Parkview, those were my kids. They’re high school kids [now], but I’m still working with them.”

Speaking with conviction, Mitchell remains enthused to help the next generation succeed.

“That’s my passion. I love working with the kids. I could have a job working somewhere in the big leagues, but this is my passion. I want to see the kids progress and keep going,” said Mitchell.

He is trying to get them to avoid some of the pitfalls that derailed his potential Hall of Fame career.

“I try to teach them about education, alcohol - the main things they have to survive with. You can do it without doing all this other stuff to punish your body.”


Post a Comment