From the big leagues to where he started, Cincinnati Reds pitcher Hunter Greene returned to his hometown in Stevenson Ranch for a morning of community outreach.
“As we know, baseball is a very, very expensive sport,” Greene said. “So, to be able to provide cleats or bats or gloves or whatever it is, and be able to support the team, or kids or families, I want to make sure that I’m able to do that and just spread that love and that support.”
Greene said he’s always enjoyed giving back to his community and fans. Originally from the Santa Clarita Valley, he decided to host a cleats giveaway to kids at Richard Rioux Park on Saturday.
The event was open to SCV residents only, and it was held in partnership with Full Circle Consulting Systems Inc. – an organization specializing in three areas including education, youth outreach and working with law enforcement.
Greene said Richard Roux Park is a special place because the baseball field is where he practiced from the age of 7 to the end of his high school career. There, he and his mother, Senta who is co-executive director for Full Circle, brought in a U-Hall truck filled with about 1,000 boxes of cleats.
“Throughout Los Angeles, and throughout the state, we do these pop-up experiences where we show up and provide a leadership program or we bring in our youth leadership ambassadors to give back to the community,” Senta said.
Senta said Hunter has a platform, and he’s always wanted to make a difference for the community. Together, they came up with the idea to give away equipment because so many children go without the necessary tools to succeed in sports.
“We specialize in the science of child and adolescent development, youth outreach and looking at educational programs, so we thought this would be a perfect match,” Senta said. “We came together and partnered, and go throughout different communities, pop up, and put some, some cleats on some feet, to make some something special happen for you (children).”
Children ages 8-17 were invited to stop by as Greene handed out free cleats while supplies were available. Families in attendance had to present proof of residency.
Phillip Yrigoyen and his son, Philip, 11, stopped by to see Greene and pick up free cleats. Philip plays football and baseball, and Yrigoyen said this was an excellent opportunity to meet an actual professional while also getting some new gear.
“It’s a good thing to get out here,” Yrigoyen said. “It’s awesome for the kids.”
Greene said sports have made difference in his life. He started playing baseball early at the Urban Youth Academy in Compton, and that provided him with a foundation to play competitively and learn to love the game.
“There’s definitely a decline in Major League Baseball with African American players,” Greene said.
Phelan Buckner and Christopher Woods are baseball players from Notre Dame High School and Birmingham Community Charter High School, respectively, who volunteered at the cleat giveaway as part of Greene’s youth ambassador program.
“Greene introduced us with a foundation and good morals,” Buckner said. “When I was younger, he taught me integrity, how to be truthful with yourself and really take accountability of your actions and be prepared for the grind and the struggle. He’s really taught me basic life skills in a sense of, you know, how to incorporate that into baseball.”
The youth ambassador program is another way Greene reaches out to his community and mentor young athletes who have dreams of playing Major League Baseball.
“To be able to support our communities and to make them (youth) feel welcomed, valued, appreciated and to be inclusive of everyone is always important,” Greene said.