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Monday, January 15, 2007

Teahen helps effort to build youth field- MLB.com

Why can't there be more big leaguers like Mark Teahen?

Royals Player of the Year recovering from shoulder injury
By Dick Kaegel / MLB.com

LIBERTY, Mo. -- Last season Mark Teahen was in a Royals series of commercials with the tagline: This is Kansas City! Shown were such warm and fuzzy locales as the Plaza, Worlds of Fun and Kauffman Stadium.

When Teahen emerged from a youngsters baseball clinic here last weekend into a world of freezing rain and snow, he couldn't resist.

"This is Kansas City!" he deadpanned.

Or at least it was Liberty where, as spokesman for the YMCA Challenger Baseball program, he participated in an instructional event at William Jewell College.

"It was awesome. I had a great time. It was a lot of fun," Teahen said. "The more I get to be with the Challenger kids, the more comfortable I get and the more I get out of it."

About a dozen kids with special needs attended the clinic along with 52 other youngsters, the William Jewell baseball team, Royals alumni and Major League scouts.

Teahen, the Royals Player of the Year for 2006, is lending his name and influence to the building of the Challenger Sports Complex in Kansas City. The facility will include custom-designed fields that cushion falls and accommodate wheelchairs and other assistive devices.

Royals Charities has joined forces with the YMCA of Greater Kansas City, William Jewell and the Little League in the creation of the north Kansas City complex. The baseball field will give kids, ages 10 to 18, the chance to hit the ball, run the bases and experience the thrill of crossing home plate.

Teahen spent the entire day last Saturday giving instruction in the clinic directed by Phillies scout Jerry Lafferty. Phillies slugger Ryan Howard, in town for the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum banquet, stopped by on Sunday to answer questions from the participants.

"Cool," Teahen said. "I played with him in the fall league."

Teahen took time to meet privately with the William Jewell baseball players who were volunteers at the clinic.

"It was fantastic for our guys to hear a big league perspective," coach Mike Stockton said. "Mark seems very humble. He's kept a handle on things. When you're teaching college-age kids, it's great to have a guy like him as a role model."

Teahen's energetic approach indicated his recovery from right shoulder surgery is going well. He expects to be at full force when he reports to Spring Training next month.

This was the second KC clinic put on by the Midwest scouts, who also hold events in the St. Louis area.

"In 10 years, we've raised over $80,000 for charity," Lafferty said.

Funds from this clinic will go toward the Challenger complex.

Teahen noted the clinic turnout probably would have been bigger with better weather. More freezing rain on Sunday kept Teahen from heading for sunny Florida. His flight was canceled.

Now he knows the story all too well: This is Kansas City!

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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