The proud tradition of Tampa's baseball community goes back to the city's founding. It continues Saturday, January 13th, when the Peter J. Mulry Foundation hosts its annual Stars of the Future clinic at the Tampa Catholic High School athletic complex. The free clinic runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and it’s geared for children aged 7-13. The event features some of the top baseball and softball instructors from high school, college, and professional ranks, along with life skills speakers on topics such as financial literacy.
The participants receive a free breakfast, backpack, T-shirt, and life skills book, plus a poster to be autographed by the instructors and guests at the end of the program. The 2018 clinic will have a noticeable Tampa Bay Rays presence, with play-by-play man DeWayne Staats as the opening speaker and Rays Live analyst Orestes Destrade as the closing speaker. Rays mascots Raymond and DJ Kitty will also be at the Tampa event. In addition to the Rays personalities, Cleveland Indians pitcher Carlos Carrasco will participate in this year's clinic.
Mulry, who won four state titles as head coach of Tampa Catholic High School's baseball team in the 1970s, created the Peter J. Mulry Foundation out of a concern about the future of kids. "Our children are the stars of the future. It is all about them. If they are not prepared, where does our society go?" Mulry asked. "This clinic is all about the kids of today brought to them by the jocks of the past." Parents can sign their children up for the clinic by visiting Mulry’s website.
A 2015 inductee into the Tampa Sports Club's Hall of Fame, Mulry works the phone year-round to make sure the boys and girls attending the clinic have the best instructors and speakers. With Tampa’s deep roots in the baseball and softball communities, it never takes long to find some powerful names to attend. The 2017 clinic featured Darryl Strawberry as the closing speaker. In the past, guest instructors have included current Major League Baseball pitching coaches like Chuck Hernandez.
The Tampa baseball tradition includes MLB players from the area or living in Tampa Bay in the offseason. Many active Major League Baseball players stop by to visit the Stars of the Future clinic in the past, such as the Houston Astros Lance McCullers and new Tampa Bay Ray (and Tampa Catholic alum) Denard Span. Local elected officials have supported the program in the past: City Councilman Charlie Miranda (a Tampa baseball legend himself) and Hillsborough County Commissioner Al Higginbotham.
The Stars of the Future clinic hosts between 250 to 300 boys and girls each year. Including instructors, approximately 100 volunteers participate to put on the event.
If you want to learn more about the Tampa baseball tradition, check out the Tampa Baseball Museum in Ybor City. Looking for more Things to Do in Tampa? Stay plugged in at 813area.com for all the Events, Restaurants and more. Register for an account today — it's free!
2018 clinic poster from Peter J. Mulry Foundation. Past event photos from the author.