BRIGHTON — To Adam Eaton, the first commandment of youth baseball is simple: Have fun.
“I think that gets lost in the shuffle with coming to these camps and baseball in general,” the Washington Nationals outfielder said during an appearance Tuesday at the Legacy Center in Green Oak Township.
“As bad as it may sounds, it sometimes is parent-driven at this point,” he continued. “I just want the kids to go out and have fun, enjoy it, and at the same token, work toward your goal. If you want to be a professional baseball player, be a great high school baseball player, a college baseball player, to work toward that and hopefully it will trickle into other aspects of their lives.”
Eaton appeared at the request of Jason Ladd, who is a director of baseball at the Legacy Center and also a co-coach for the Howell High School baseball team.
“It’s a great honor to have a current major leaguer come to your facility and share his time and knowledge with the younger kids to get them excited about baseball,” Ladd said. “I got to know Adam over the last couple of years and he’s willing to come in here and there a little bit to give back to us. It’s phenomenal that he did that.”
Eaton worked with the campers for about an hour, at one point demonstrating baseball moves by equating them to boxing. One example was striding into a pitch in the same way a boxer steps into a punch.
That was another part of Eaton’s pitch, which was how the same moves can be used in different sports. He also is a proponent of athletes playing more than one sport at the youth level.
“It’s the aspect of getting a powerful position (which) goes through so many different sports,” he said. “You could say boxing or in football, for a linebacker or wide receiver, when he’s in a good position. Baseball, when you finish your swing or a player when he runs or jumps. There are so many parallels, it’s unbelieveable. So to be able to bring other aspects into it is something I love to do, because I believe players should play more than one sport.”
Eaton, who was traded to the Nationals by the Chicago White Sox three weeks ago, moved to Brighton about a year and a half ago.
“I love the area, Michigan, everything about it,” the Springfield, Ohio, native said. “Giving back to the baseball community has always been big for me. I couldn’t ask for a better group of people here at the Legacy Center to allow me to come and enjoy these young baseball players. There’s some real talent, which is refreshing as well, and they’re willing to learn. I’ve enjoyed it.”