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March 5, 2013 > World Series trophies come to town

World Series trophies come to town

By Simon Wong

The SF Giants and City of Hayward will host a reception at City Hall from 3:30 p.m. until 6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 12, 2013. Guests of honor will be the 2010 and 2012 World Series trophies and all are welcome to attend. SF Giants fans and other baseball supporters will have the opportunity to pose for photographs.

Hayward Police Department's (PD) Lt. Sheryl Boykins wears many hats including that of the Hayward Junior Giants Commissioner for the City of Hayward, a post in which she has served for 12 years. Originally, as a Hayward PD Officer, she coached local children who enrolled in the Junior Giants program held during the summer vacation. As her professional career progressed, it became increasingly difficult to devote time as a coach. The Junior Giants' invitation to become Commissioner of the Hayward League enabled her to continue her association with the program.

Youngsters who enroll in the Junior Giants program can play baseball in a non-competitive environment. It is geared toward those who are unable to join Little League because of financial issues, lack of knowledge of the game and similar constraints. It costs approximately $150 for a child to play in Little League, a substantial sum for a family on a very tight budget.

The Giants Community Fund finances the program which is facilitated by Hayward PD. Officers coach the young athletes and interact with them as sporting role models rather than law enforcers. To continue to engage young people and assure the program's future in Hayward, the Hayward League hires former participants, too old to qualify to play, as the next generation of coaches. Hayward PD organizes an annual basketball tournament in July to raise monies to enable the Junior Giants Fund to cover the following year's stipends for young coaches.

In 2012, more than 500 children enrolled. They were organized into teams based on age group and, to some extent, ability. There are players with learning difficulties, partial sight and other issues requiring accommodation. Nobody is turned away unless staff finds the numbers too overwhelming. Although some might prefer a different field, baseball is played at Weekes Park, South Hayward. Conveniently, most children can walk there.

"The Hayward League aims to instill and develop qualities in players, including leadership," stated Boykins. "In 2012, a father took his eight-year old daughter to Target for new shoes. Customarily, she would leave her old ones behind and return home in her new footwear. On this occasion she refused the new items, explaining to her father that 'this is not what leaders do,' adamant the Junior Giants would not let her play in better kit than everyone else. She left the store barefoot. This was a family on a limited income and a young girl wrestling with her conscience. We were able to obtain backpacks, shoes and other items for her through Hayward Rotary and when we informed Target, they highlighted her.

"There is a former player who came up through the program and has learning disabilities. He joined when he was 10 and is 24-years old now and one of our coaches. All he wants is to be a Giant; sadly, that will never happen but he loves the SF Giants, wears their colors all the time, talks about them incessantly and is another of our success stories," Boykins reflected.

The Junior Giants program, open to youngsters aged five to 15 years, has kept many on the straight and narrow. Rather than leave them generally unsupervised during the summer months, at an impressionable age and subject to peer pressure, they can play baseball in a safe environment. The Hayward Area Recreation and Park District allows the program free use of Weekes Park. Similarly, the "Let's Do Lunch, Hayward... and Breakfast, Too" program provides free meals for the players and families. According to Boykins, it is impossible to put a monetary value on the program's success; the rewards for all concerned are the personal and social values the program imbues.

"I had to write a proposal to the SF Giants explaining why the Trophies should come to Hayward. I highlighted our involvement with the Junior Giants and how the program has grown each year. One of the requirements that must be met, if the Trophies are to be displayed in our City, is at least 1,000 visitors. There are 500 children, plus parents, and we have engaged with Chabot and Cal State University's Athletics Departments. The whole community is encouraged to attend," explained Boykins. "How often do you have the opportunity to see the World Series Trophy? The SF Giants also request a $2 donation from anyone whose photo is taken with the Trophy for the benefit of the Junior Giants Fund.

"If there is an opportunity to volunteer or participate in some other way with our program, please get involved. This program is easy to fund; our overheads are low, so a few donations each year are the difference between the program's continuation and demise. The Giants provide free shirts, hats, gloves... all the equipment. Baseball is the all-American game," concluded Boykins.

For more information, contact Lt. Sheryl Boykins at (510) 293-7270 or at sheryl.boykins@hayward-ca.gov

World Series Trophies Exhibit
Tuesday, Mar 12
3:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
City Hall
777 B Street, Hayward
(510) 293-7270

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