Home News Hunter Pence visits Giants’ Mexico City youth program

Hunter Pence visits Giants’ Mexico City youth program

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MEXICO CITY — The Giants will cross new frontiers this weekend when they travel to Mexico City to take on the Padres as part of Major League Baseball’s first regular-season trip to the Mexican capital.

The Giants will face the Padres at Estadio Alfredo Harp Helú on Saturday and Sunday in the Mexico Series, marking the first time they’ve competed outside of the United States and Canada. It’ll be a quick two-game series between the National League West rivals, but the Giants are already taking steps to ensure their impact goes beyond this weekend’s festivities.

Earlier this month, the Giants announced a multiyear sponsorship of two new Liga Maya teams that they hope will create more opportunities for underserved children to participate in baseball in their communities.

Liga Maya is a non-profit youth baseball league in Mexico City that’s comparable to Little League in the United States and sends many of its alumni to the Mexican professional leagues and Major League Baseball.

The teams will fittingly be named Gigantes and consist of boys and girls ages 9-12 from Iztapalapa and Gustavo A. Madero. The Giants’ sponsorship will cover all expenses, including league fees, travel costs, uniforms and equipment.

Giants senior vice president of communications and community relations Shana Daum said the organization took inspiration from its flagship Junior Giants program, which offers free baseball clinics and other programming for kids in the Bay Area.

“I think when we were looking at what we could do from a community activation, we didn’t want to go in and do one event and leave,” Daum said. “It was like, ‘OK, what can we do that will be impactful and leave more of a legacy? What can we do that can really make an impact and make a difference?

“Is there a Junior Giants equivalent in Mexico City? There’s obviously not a one-for-one, but there are these teams that don’t have the ability to play in Little League, so that’s when we decided, ‘How can we sponsor them, what would it take?’ And so that’s how we came to the decision.”

As part of the initiative, the Giants sent two-time World Series champion Hunter Pence to Mexico City to serve as a team ambassador and see the club’s investment in the community in action. Pence traveled to the Liga Maya fields to play catch and tee ball with the kids and their families, an experience he said bordered on “breathtaking.” 

“It definitely made you take a step back,” Pence said. “It was just like, ‘This is so cool.’ You see the joy in the kids, but you can see the parents light up. You know that it’s a much bigger impact than just baseball. You’re teaching these kids and giving them an opportunity to learn the lessons that baseball teaches us. They’re just having a blast. They’re wanting to play catch or wanting to hit the ball into the net. They are singing and chanting. Their families are chanting. 

“It is a very passionate country for baseball. It’s very important for MLB to try to expand our roots to Mexico. We saw what they did in the [World Baseball Classic], as well. It’s a rich history and a rich culture that loves baseball and getting to feel that on the ground floor was incredible.”  

The Giants are planning to host 16 kids from their Liga Maya teams at the ballpark on Sunday, with one lucky participant expected to throw out the first pitch in honor of Children’s Day in Mexico. 

Pence won’t be in attendance for the Mexico Series this weekend — his former teammate Sergio Romo will sub in as the Giants’ team ambassador — but he said he’s already looking forward to returning to Mexico City after taking in the sights during his three-day stay there. 

Aside from getting his fill of tacos, Pence got a chance to visit the National Anthropology Museum, Chapultepec Castle, the National Palace and watch Mexican wrestling at a lucha libre match. 

“The opportunity to see Mexico City — it was above and beyond [anything I expected],” Pence said. “I knew it was going to be fun, there was going to be good food. But I was overwhelmed by the hospitality, with the art, just with learning the history of Mexican culture and Mexico City in general.”

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