The Junior Giants Program was started by the Giants Community Fund Board of Directors in 1994. This year, the Junior Giants Commissioner is former National League Most Valuable Player and two-time world champion San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey.
The program was brought to Patterson for the first time this year. “We’ve had a good turnout with all the players coming out as well as parents coming out,” said Junior Giants ambassador Ashley Mashburn.
Approximately 154 children and 40 coaches joined the Junior Giants recreational league. Due to the successful turnout, the San Francisco Giants announced that they would be bringing the program back to Patterson next year.
The Junior Giants Program is absolutely free to join. They offer a non-competitive, co-ed baseball atmosphere for youth from the ages of 5 to 18 years old. They annually serve 21,000-plus kids every summer in 90-plus leagues across the state.
They strive to provide anything a child needs to play baseball, including a glove and bat, focusing all their effort on getting the kids out on the field and having fun.
A tour of AT&T Park in San Francisco was even hosted for the children who qualified through their reading challenge, the Round the Bases Reading Program, during which they also got to run the bases on the field.
The goal of the Junior Giants Program is to offer a positive alternative to unhealthy activities for at risk youth. It operates on their Four Bases of Character Development: confidence, integrity, leadership and teamwork. The program also stresses the importance of education, health and violence protection in young children.
The program is not about keeping stats or winning games, but rather about having fun and teaching young children valuable morals that will last them the rest of their lives.
Each week has a new theme aimed at helping the children grow as baseball players and individuals in the community. “Most players have never played baseball before, and by playing throughout these eight weeks they’ve grown from not knowing anything about baseball to learning the fundamentals and growing in our Four Bases,” said Mashburn.
The focus is about character development as much as baseball. Coaches sought to teach the youngsters about the weekly theme, and also promote a fun and supportive atmosphere regardless of skill level.
The best parts of coaching are sometimes the simplest, as observed by Head Coach Lynnette Payne and Assistant Coach Justin Payne when asked what attracts them to coaching for the Junior Giants. The satisfaction of coaching was nothing more than “watching the kids be together and working as a team and cheering each other on,” said Justin Payne.
The Junior Giants will wrap up their season with some final games on Aug. 9 at the Sports Park Complex, followed by an awards ceremony and a barbecue for all the players and coaches to enjoy at 2 p.m.
As a parting gift, each child will receive a participation award along with a bobble-head and San Francisco Giants baseball cards.
One player and coach from the league will win the Willie Mac Award—named after San Francisco Giants Hall of Famer Willie McCovey. The players qualify through a voting process by the coaches from their respective teams. Then the candidates selected from each team go through another selection process by Mashburn and Patterson City Coordinator Jason Hayward on who best embodies their Four Bases of Character Development both on and off the field.
The Willie Mac Award winners will be recognized during a home plate ceremony at AT&T Park on Junior Giants Night on Aug. 29. All award winners and guests will also be invited to a special luncheon with the legendary slugger Willie “Stretch” McCovey himself.
Contact Erick Torres at 892-6187, ext. 28, or email@example.com.