Hundreds of kids and their parents showed up to the William S. Hart Pony Baseball and Softball fields on Saturday to grab a free pair of spikes, or cleats, being distributed by the hard-throwing right-handed starting pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds, Hunter Greene.
Greene is a graduate of Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, but he grew up in the Santa Clarita Valley and was also part of the Hart Pony baseball program during his early years — and was part of a team that won the 2008 Pinto World Series.
“It’s a huge honor to be here today to be back where it all started. It’s a beautiful complex, some familiar faces as well. So today’s gonna be very special,” said Greene. “Thank you parents for bringing the children out. I hope I’m able to make them feel special. I knew that was one of my favorite things coming up, playing, was getting new gear, getting all the cool stuff and all the new cleats and all that. So, it’s a good feeling and hopefully you guys feel the same and you can go out and play your best when you’re competing and playing on all these awesome fields.”
Event organizers said more than 500 pairs of spikes had been gathered for the event, but they also had official baseballs, jerseys, baseball cards and other equipment and memorabilia for Greene to sign. Greene also took pictures with attendees and for those who asked —- advice was given.
Phoenix Vanderlip, a 14-year-old second baseman and pitcher for The Ambassadors, a local youth baseball team, said he asked Green about how to gain confidence on the field.
“He told me that you need to put in the work to have confidence because you know, when you’re on the field, you’re like, ‘Oh, yeah, I already know what to do. I’ve done this and I’ve practiced this or I really know what I’m gonna do.’ So just do it well and that’s what he told me,” said Phoenix. “It made me feel good. It makes me want to put in more work and work harder so I’m more confident and do better while playing baseball.”
Phoenix’s dad, Matt Vanderlip, said it was nice Greene gave back to the community in a way that made such an impact on the kids.
“It’s great, you know, he looks up to these players and any advice that they could give the little ones, whether it’s confidence or pointers on the field or off the field, you know, those are the role models that they look to. So it’s nice to see that, nice to see that they give back to the community, too,” said Matt.
Also in attendance was Santa Clarita Councilwoman Laurene Weste, who reminisced about Greene’s spot on Team USA.
“Hunter is an example of why I hope all of you will later be, and that’s an amazing athlete that comes out of a great city and then comes back and helps the kids that are here and he does his work around the country,” said West. “So while you’re with him, say ‘thank you.’ Know that he makes a difference. And we know he’s the kind of great young man that comes from here, goes out into America and makes it a better place. So we’re so proud.”