By Molly Seales
On July 8-10, 31 students in grades 3rd-12th gathered on the baseball diamond in East Point for a summer baseball camp. Riverdale board member and parent Cody Hillman organized the camp, which was a huge success. In addition to Hillman, camp coaches were Shelby Hearold, former ULM standout player Lee Graves, and Riverdale alumni baseball players Joe Hays, Zack Givens, John Eagan Griffith, and Matthew Seales. In addition to these coaches, the athletes arrived on Thursday with most being unaware that there was a legend in the crowd.
On Thursday, the first day of camp, Castor native and former MLB player Lee Smith conducted a special pitching clinic for the players. Smith played Major League Baseball for 18 years, mostly serving as a relief pitcher during his career. He held the major league career saves record from 1993-2006, when Trevor Hoffman passed his total of 478. In 2019, Smith was a unanimous selection to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Smith gave the boys some quality pitching instruction as well as giving a few autographs out as well. He is an athlete who never forgot his roots and loves to give back to youth in today’s society.
I asked Cody to tell me a little bit about the camp, and his response was, “The objective of the camp was to not only give the inexperienced players solid fundamentals, but to also give the experienced players a refresher on fundamentals as well. We had a lot of great camp coaches that have a lot of knowledge about the game of baseball, and I believe they did a great job making each player a more fundamental player and a smarter player. I want to thank each one of them that helped, along with everyone who sponsored the camp. I believe it was a great success, and we look forward to making it a yearly camp.”
Sponsors for the camp were Almond Brothers Lumber Company, Bearing Service and Supply, Cason Plantation, Christus Coushatta Health Center, Dairy Queen, Huddleston Safety Training, Tyler Insurance Agency, Mabile’s Corner Pharmacy, Posey’s Sports Center, Premier Well Service, Rivertown Market, Shaver Farms, State Farm-Tray Murray, Dr. Wyche T. Coleman, Jr., Martinez Lawn Worx, Michael and Missi Antilley, Danny and Valinda Rester, and Rob, Kim, and Jase Johnson.
*Camp photos courtesy of Katie Murray
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