Mexico City, March 1, 2014 – Ambassador Wayne threw out the first pitch at a youth baseball clinic today at the Santa Cruz Meyehualco sports field in Iztapalapa, with American players Ken Griffey Jr., Natasha Watley, and Joe Logan. Iztapalapa Delegado Jesus Valencia, the SEGOB representative Maestro Xiuh Tenorio Antiga, the IDDF representative Pedro Martínez Balderas, and the Iztapalapa Public Security Coordinator Carlos Candelaria Lopez also threw pitches alongside Ambassador Wayne to help launch the clinic. Santa Cruz Meyehualco is a priority for the national program for the prevention of violence and delinquency.
Griffey Jr. and Watley are in Mexico City through Monday for a sports diplomacy program to share their passion for this sport, which touches communities on both sides of the border. Through clinics with youth in Iztapalapa and at Liga Olmeca, they will share the power of sports to teach youth life skills such as teamwork, conflict resolution and respect. Watley, a two-time Olympian in softball, will connect with groups of girls to show them that sports are for them, too. Sports fans around the country chatted with the Griffey Jr. and Watley on Friday during a “Google Hangout” where the participants were able to ask their questions directly to the two all-stars. Watley also met with a group of Access students from UAM Iztapalapa.
Ambassador Wayne explained that the Embassy brought these players to Mexico as part of its growing sports diplomacy program.
“We at the Embassy are working more closely than ever with our Mexican government partners on empowering youth through sports. Whether as competitors, teammates, or fans, you can find common ground in sports and develop understanding and respect. Sports allow you to develop friendships that extend outside of the field. Through sports, you can discover new strengths, develop new skills, learn how to communicate better with one another and solve problems. You can experience the special satisfaction that sports can bring, not just in winning a game, but also in learning the rewards of fair play and working together as a team to achieve shared goals,” he said.
Delegado Valencia added, “The best way for young people to not get involved with drugs and crime is to get them involved with athletic, cultural, and recreational activities.”
Maestro Tenorio also said “Hopefully events like this can motivate these children to follow a good path and turn them into the leaders that we are all hoping for.”
Ken Griffey Jr., who played an amazing 22 seasons in Major League Baseball, is one of the most prolific home run hitters in baseball history. He is also an exceptional defender who won 10 Gold Glove Awards in center field. He is tied for the record of most consecutive games with a home run. Natasha Watley was the first African American woman to play on the U.S. Olympic softball team. She won a gold medal in Athens in 2004 and brought home a silver from Beijing in 2008. She holds numerous softball records from her collegiate career at the University of California Los Angeles. Joe Logan is an American former professional baseball player who now serves as a baseball coach and trainer for college and professional baseball players.