Hudson's tour receives special guests

Hudson's tour receives special guests

LOS ANGELES -- The kids at Van Ness Park, already going pretty good as guests of Orlando Hudson's "Around the Mound" tour, scored even bigger at Saturday's event when Ken Griffey Jr. and Juan Pierre also showed up.

"I thoroughly enjoyed it," said Griffey. "There were about 150 kids there and they asked a lot of questions. It was a good thing O-Dog did there. I'm proud of him. It's important to get inner-city kids to go out and play baseball. It was a nice turnout, kids and parents, in the heart of south central L.A."

Hudson is visiting inner city youth in 10 cities around the country this year as part of his "Around the Mound" tour, providing approximately 150 pre-selected, inner-city children at each stop a chalk talk and interactive baseball tips.

Those attending Saturday's stop listened to Hudson, Griffey and Pierre discuss the importance of education in their lives as baseball players and opportunities for African-Americans in Major League Baseball. Hudson also provided lunch for clinic participants.

"A lot of those kids have single parents and they look up to the guys as role models," said Hudson. "To have guys like Ken Griffey and Juan P. relay messages means a lot to the kids, and it meant a lot to me also. It was more bonding than anything."

Pierre said he remembered when he was a youth.

"I told those kids today that someday they might be playing with me, and they didn't buy it, but I told them I used to be their age watching Griffey and now I'm playing against him," said Pierre.

Hudson, a tireless community worker, also established the non-profit foundation C.A.T.C.H. (Curing Autism Through Change and Hope) in 2008 to enable children with autism to enjoy a normal life through the funding of outlets for proper therapy, education, and extracurricular activities. 

Pierre's personal community initiative, "Pierre's Pack," is in its third season. The outfielder hosts kids from inner city after-school programs at several games throughout the season. This was Pierre's second appearance at an "Around the Mound" event.

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