January 22, 2011
Day 3 in New Zealand had me meeting members of the national softball team and giving a youth clinic.
At the softball diamonds, I was able to get in and swing against a men's fastpitch softball player — which was incredibly tough. Obviously, the mound is much closer, but the velocity of the pitch and the angle it comes at you makes it even tougher.
One of the things baseball has struggled with as it works to grow in New Zealand is being careful not to offend the very large and strong softball-playing population here. It is a sport this nation loves, but it's also one that's obviously different from baseball. Many youth grow up playing softball here, so we will need to find ways to work together to continue to grow both sports.
After that, I went back to our baseball fields to give a clinic. There were a lot of kids at the clinic, ages 5-13. It was great to see such a positive reaction from the local youth. I mainly stayed at the defensive station, working with kids on moving towards the ball, and how to utilize their glove best.
However, since it was a little rainy out, I had to ask them to get a little dirty, so we made some highlight catches! I asked them to catch a little fly ball, and then dive as they were catching it. It was a great time and the kids really got into it. Plus, we have cameras here from Yankees on Demand, so they all thought they were going to be on SportsCenter.
Last night, we ate at an amazing restaurant named The Grove. It's a somewhat small place, and so when we called to make a last-minute reservation for 10, I was lucky enough to find out that the owner is from Connecticut and a Yankees fan! His wife is actually from Mt. Clemens, Mich. as well. With that, the chef prepared a special four-course meal and tasting for us, which was just incredible.
I'm still adjusting to the 19-hour time difference from back home. We are almost one full day ahead, and it's enough to make communicating with family and friends kind of hard.
Follow Curtis on Twitter — @CGrand14 — and check out his earlier adventures among the Kiwi: