HOOVER, Ala. (WIAT) — The letters ‘SEC’ are now painted across the city of Hoover. The first pitch of the SEC Baseball Tournament is tomorrow but action at the Hoover Met begins today with future SEC stars.
Over 500 elementary students from Hoover and Birmingham will take the field at the Met, getting their first taste of baseball at an SEC baseball youth clinic.
Led by Rise 2 Greatness Foundation, the children will learn the basics of softball and baseball from former and current major league players.
Each child will leave with a swag package of sportswear, gloves, signed baseballs and a wiffleball set to enable them to take the game home.
Rise 2 Greatness Foundation Executive Director and Board Chair Jennifer Ford said their goal is to inspire these children, hoping they at least walk away a fan of the game.
“I remember back to our first camp when we did this, we were shocked to learn that most kids didn’t even know how to put a baseball glove on,” said Ford. “And so, to have a former big leaguer, a guy that, you know has won a world series championship and all of that, teach a little child what hand to put their glove on how to spread their fingers, how to hit off a tee is just really, really touching.”
While the foundation is in town this week, they said a caravan of MLB players will also go around to local elementary schools Monday morning.
With fans piling in, local restaurants expect large crowds. Walk On’s in Hoover said SEC baseball week brings in a ton of foot traffic from all over the country, which means big bucks for their business.
Their catering and marketing manager, Andre Roth, said they’re more than prepared with all hands-on deck, saying they’ve ordered heavy on food for fans and teams.
He said they want to keep the energy high for all coming in to celebrate the tournament.
“Tons of catering, people in here all throughout the day, tons of baseball fans of course from all over the country to, all over the SEC,” said Roth.
Hoover police add that because SEC baseball is a huge attraction, traffic is a concern for those trying to make it to the Met for games.
Captain Keith Czeskleba said 150, 459 and Stadium Trace Parkway will be crowded. He said they will have officers on the roads timing lights to help traffic move efficiently, but they ask that drivers be patient with one another.
“Traffic is going to be heavy. We are going to be doing everything we can do to help it move, but we also ask that everybody just be patient and also maybe factor in some extended drive times to get to your destinations.”
The tournament runs May 23-28. Captain Czeskleba said Hoover Police will provide updates on their social media pages for traffic and other helpful tips throughout the week.