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Lowell, Youkilis relish teaching kids

Lowell, Youkilis relish teaching kids

BOSTON -- As Mike Lowell and Kevin Youkilis looked out into dozens of kids in the stands above the Red Sox dugout on Monday morning, both Red Sox stars thought back to when they were the same age.

The occasion was the Bank of America Youth Baseball Clinic at Fenway Park, as dozens of boys and girls from various Boston community organizations learned some fundamentals about baseball and life.

"You just try to stick to the basics and tell them little pointers here and there," Youkilis said. "The main goal here is to have fun and just enjoy the experience of being out here at Fenway Park. I think there's probably a million of kids who would love to be out here on the field and in the atmosphere of Fenway Park and the surroundings. It's just a joy to come out here and have fun and just get to play the great game of baseball."

As a youngster growing up in Cincinnati, it comes as no surprise that Youkilis was a Reds fan. He had the privilege of watching the 1990 World Series champions and adopting his own role model.

"First and foremost, I would probably tell all kids don't try to hit like me," said the Sox first baseman. "That's probably not a good idea, because my stance is obviously unique. I grew up and we all idolized Eric Davis and tried to hit like Eric Davis in Cincinnati, twirling the bat and stuff, [but] we found out real quick that it wouldn't work, because we weren't that good."

But Youkilis didn't have Fenway Park to visit. Instead, he regarded the now-extinct Riverfront Stadium as hallowed ground.

"For me, I know as a kid going out to Riverfront, that would be a joy of my life to go out there," Youkilis said. "Now, just to go out to Fenway Park and having Major League Baseball players come and work with you at baseball, it's got to be exciting."

In his youth, Lowell didn't even have the chance to watch big league baseball. Instead, he appreciated learning from legendary University of Miami coach Ron Fraser when the Hurricanes played.

"I really enjoy it, because I look at it as something unique and different from when I was growing up," Lowell said of his chance to teach on Monday. "The highlight for me growing up was catching the University of Miami baseball games. Now, no knock on them, but they don't compare much to the Boston Red Sox.

"So to have a chance to come to a stadium like this and get close to the Green Monster and walk on the field is a very unique experience and something they'll remember for a long time," he added.

Bank of America President Bob Gallery agreed.

"Just look at the looks on their faces when they see these guys," said Gallery, with Youkilis on his right and Lowell to his left. "There are not enough positive role models around now, but I'm standing between two of them and as you see the coaches working with these kids, [the kids] just light up. And for the players to take the time to do this really means a great deal."

What would mean a great deal to the players is if even one of the kids on hand Monday turned into a pro ballplayer.

"You hope," Youkilis said. "You always like to work with kids and if you can see the kid and then someday say, 'Wow, that kid's in the Minor Leagues or the Major Leagues, it's always a joy to see that because we know as players that it's very hard to do and even hard to go on to [play] college or Minor Leagues.

"For us, it just nice for us to hopefully come out here and [teach] and hopefully someday someone will say, 'Hey, Mike Lowell or Kevin Youkilis helped me get to the big leagues,'" said Youkilis, who added with a smile, "I don't know if that's going to happen with our skills."

But that won't keep many kids from trying to imitate their favorite Red Sox first baseman.

"It's cool to see a kid go up there and try to hit like you," Youkilis said. "It's definitely fun to watch. You don't realize how big you are in this community until you start seeing kids mimicking every move you make on the field. It's a great feeling to know that there's a lot of kids out there who look up to you and want you to be their role model."

But in the end, Monday was about the overall experience more than it was a road to the Majors.

"Have fun," Lowell suggested. "I think sometimes if you go around to some Little League parks, the parents are kind of beating down on the kids sometimes because I think they view their kids as the star of the 7-and-8-year-olds and they view them as a meal ticket because they see the money being thrown around. [Major Leaguers] are so much the exception.

"I think it's much more worth your time to enjoy baseball and sports teach you a lot of life lessons. If anything, they can prepare you for later on in life and just make you a good all-around person."

Mike Petraglia is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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