Gold Glove winner hosts free program in hometown as part of 'Players Going Home' initiative
By David Adler
NEW YORK -- Four days after winning his first career Gold Glove, Marcus Stroman was back on Long Island, telling a crowd of eager young listeners all about it, and showing them how they could follow in his footsteps to a big league pitcher's mound.
The Blue Jays right-hander, who grew up on Long Island and attended Patchogue-Medford High School, spent Saturday morning hosting a free youth baseball clinic organized by Pro Camps at Hofstra University, part of MLB's "Players Going Home" program.
"Being from Long Island, this is home base," Stroman said. "My family still lives here. This is where my roots are, this is where I'm from, this is where I was raised. So to be able to come back here and have this camp for kids that are in the same position I was in, it's special."
During the clinic, Stroman spoke to the group -- boys and girls ranging from first through eighth grade -- about his path from Patchogue to the Major Leagues, his approach to baseball on and off the field, the importance of education, getting his degree at Duke University and more.
After being announced as the American League's Gold Glove winner at pitcher on Tuesday, his award naturally came up. Stroman used that as an opportunity to stress to the kids in attendance the benefits of staying involved with different activities, crediting playing multiple sports for his athleticism. Later, he talked about the pride he took in winning the Gold Glove, saying it was "the one award that I always really wanted."
"It's surreal," Stroman said. "Being surrounded by [Dave] Winfield, Reggie Jackson, [Derek] Jeter, Ozzie Smith -- a bunch of greatness in one room. That only makes me want to work harder. Just to be in that, I'm extremely lucky, and blessed I had my whole family there. It was kind of an awesome accumulation -- the [World Baseball Classic], throwing 200 innings this past year, and the hard work that not only myself but my whole family put into it."
Stroman was one of two AL East pitchers to give back to their local community on Saturday. The Rays' Chris Archer also helped run a Players Going Home clinic in his hometown of Clayton, N.C.
In the indoor athletic facility on Hofstra's campus, Stroman was hands-on all morning. When the participants rotated through various coaching stations, Stroman circled around to every one, helping run the drills, offering tips and fielding questions -- and always smiling. When they split up to play games of Wiffle ball, he took time to pitch on every field.
Stroman's family and several friends joined him for the clinic, including his father Earl and mother Adlin Auffant, as did the MLB Players Association's Omar Minaya. They announced several donations to local causes, including one to Stroman's high school baseball program.
As he thanked the players and their parents at the end of the day, Stroman said he planned to continue his community involvement, including doing more youth camps, and that he was working on setting up a foundation as well.
"I realize how big of a role I can have in their lives, how influential I could be," Stroman said. "Just by coming out here, just keeping it casual, just being around them, just answering any crazy questions they have, or just throwing the ball with them. I love being around them and I realize how much that can do for their spirits and going forward."
David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.