Shriners

A player examines his bat at a past Shriners Hospitals for Children Youth Experience event at Baylor Ballpark.

After a week of final exams, Baylor’s baseball players will probably enjoy cutting loose at Baylor Ballpark again on Saturday.

Only this time, they’re not the ones taking the swings and making the pitches.

It’s time again for the 10th annual Shriners Hospital for Children College Classic Youth Experience, which will begin at 8:30 a.m. Saturday at Baylor Ballpark and run throughout the day. Baylor players will indeed be on hand, but they’ll be serving as bat boys and volunteer coaches for more than 200 players from the Little League Challenger Division.

“It’s such a meaningful program,” said Dustin Johnson, the director of sports marketing for Shriners Hospitals who created this event a decade ago. “It’s nice that the Baylor players are able to really build relationships with Shriners patients. They were down at the College Classic (in Houston) in March, and they’ll be back again in 2020. But then to have this event at Baylor Ballpark, it helps raise money for a life-saving cause, and also gives a lot of kids an experience they’ll remember forever.”

The event will feature eight games involving 17 different Challenger teams, including 15 from Waco. There is also a game between the Bastrop and Bandera Challenger teams at 1:30 p.m.

The Challenger Division of Little League is open to kids who have physical or intellectual challenges, and Waco’s league is one of the biggest and best organized in the state, Johnson said.

Saturday’s event is one that the players look forward to every year, he added.

“It’s a highlight for the kids, but it’s also a highlight for the parents,” Johnson said. “To see the picture of the players on the video board, and the parents are out there taking pictures of the picture, you know it means something to them.

Shriners

Baylor Ballpark has served as the longtime home for the Shriners Hospitals for Children Youth Experience, allowing players in the Little League Challenger Division to take their cuts on a Division I field.