Bellinger spends time giving back to youth

Along with Dodgers Foundation, rookie participates at community event

Bellinger spends time giving back to youth

LOS ANGELES -- Having a dad who played three seasons for the New York Yankees, Cody Bellinger was always in the company of Major League stars.

On Friday, Bellinger was in a different position.

Less than 24 hours removed from returning to Los Angeles from the Dodgers' nine-game road trip, Bellinger, a 2017 National League Rookie of the Year Award candidate, was in the presence of 200 kids at the Bresee Youth Center in L.A., who were waiting to meet the rookie phenom.

In conjunction with the Dodgers Foundation, Bellinger handed out backpacks, T-shirts, Hi-Chew candy and water bottles to students from the Bresee Youth Center. Bellinger also presented the Bresee Center with a gift, his signed All-Star jersey to be put on display there.

It was one of the first instances where he's been able to give back to the L.A. community in his young career, and Bellinger said it was "special" to be a part of the event. Working every day to make sure his swing stays intact or continuing produce for the hottest team in baseball has become second nature for Bellinger, but participating in community events is new for the 22-year-old.

"Growing up in a clubhouse, meeting the Derek Jeters, the Andy Pettittes of the world," Bellinger said, "it's really cool to be that person for a day that they kind of look up to."

The event marked the first year that the Dodgers Foundation supported Bresee's annual backpack giveaway, and the foundation also gave the center a $10,000 grant to support academic tutoring and college-readiness programs. Bellinger, who is two homers shy of tying the Dodgers' rookie record for home runs in a season, didn't take any of that for granted.

"To be out here to see it firsthand is really cool," Bellinger said. "Being the guy that some kids look up to is pretty cool. To come out here and hand out candy and backpacks is a cool feeling."

Joshua Thornton is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.