Kids enjoy shopping, smiling with Tribe
Sabathia, Sizemore and others take part in charity event
WESTLAKE, Ohio -- Julio Santana, with Indians pitcher Paul Byrd at his side, headed straight for the footwear section at Dick's Sporting Goods in Crocker Park.
The 14-year-old from Cleveland first eyed a pair of Jordan shoes. But with only $100 to spend, his shopping partner pointed to something a bit more economical.
"I'm offering up some shopping education," Byrd said with a laugh.
Santana at last settled on a white, silver and black pair of Adidas sneakers. Yet it wasn't the new kicks that made his "Shop With a Pro" day "so awesome."
It was in him and his buddies from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland and Lorain spending time with Byrd, Grady Sizemore, C.C. Sabathia, Jake Westbrook and five other Indians.
It was in the fist-pump Byrd offered when Santana told him his local baseball team made the league championship game and in being able to meet his favorite player, shortstop Jhonny Peralta.
"For [Peralta] to even say a word to me, it's amazing," Santana said.
Santana was one of 32 kids, between the ages of seven and 15, on hand for the annual event sponsored by Cleveland Indians Charities and Dick's Sporting Goods.
The players were on hand to help the kids decide how to spend the $100 gift cards Dick's provided the participants, though the smiles that graced their faces during the two-hour event suggested there was a little something in this for them as well.
"It really does something for me, too," Byrd said. "To see their reactions of walking around with a Major League player, it's cool. You kind of lose perspective in the big leagues. You tend to forget that $100 is a lot of money and what it means to these kids."
Not that the money was why the kids were so thrilled.
"These kids leading up to this day were of out of their mind," said Willis Brown, director of athletic development for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland. "They see these guys on TV at the club, and just to see them in person, talk to them and be able to see the path they started out on is pretty similar to theirs, it's an inspiration."
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And quite a bit of fun, too.
"You should see the smiles on my teammates faces here," Santana said. "This is so awesome."
Also on hand from the Indians were Jason Michaels, Jensen Lewis, Tom Mastny, Jason Stanford and Mike Rouse.
David Briggs is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.