The Coast News Group
Baseball on the Infield Chalk Line. Stock Photo
Baseball on the Infield Chalk Line. Stock Photo
News Sports

Jay Paris: Perfect Game gives players a perfect opportunity

It goes by the Perfect Game but Perfect Perspective might be a better fit.

“When you’re a baseball player, it’s all about getting to the next level,’’ the Padres’ closer Craig Kimbrel said. “It’s what can I do for myself.’’

And next month’s Perfect Game will do just that, showcasing the nation’s top senior players at Petco Park.

That includes La Costa Canyon center fielder Mickey Moniak.

But the game is more than a game and this is where we circle back.

A bunch of kids over at Rady Children’s Hospital will all be the better for it. The 13th annual game serves as a fundraiser for children battling cancer and its participants are a key part of it.

Before the contest, each player mounts an online drive to get dough for those tough youngsters. Then during game week they visit the hospital, meeting kids that life has thrown a curve.

Although the patients are often grinning like they just crushed a fastball.

Those smiles and their determination trump any Perfect Game accomplishment.

“That is very important,’’ Kimbrel said of that impact on the players. “Because they take it with them.’’

And just maybe they meet up with Kimbrel in the big leagues.

Kimbrel is the chairman of the Curing Kids Cancer and isn’t shy about asking others in the majors to lend a hand.

“In Atlanta we could go to the children’s hospitals in vans and just meet the kids, see what their families are going through,’’ said Kimbrel, who was acquired from the Braves earlier this season. “It’s amazing what that does for the kids.

“And really it’s nothing out of the day for us, in the grand scheme of things.’’

Trevor Hoffman has long sounded the horn about the Perfect Game as its spokesman.

“It’s pretty special to be a part of it,’’ said Hoffman, the ex-Padre great living in Rancho Santa Fe. “We are extremely proud here in San Diego to host the game, but also to have Rady’s and what it does for kids.’’

But it’s what those kids do for those gifted athletes that the real present appears.

“I know when the (players) get to go over and visit with the kids and get a chance to get to know them, it’s something that is a little different,’’ Hoffman said. “I think it opens their eyes that they have an obligation.’’

If the players are fortunate, they advance to the majors — where Kimbrel will be waiting, asking for their help in fighting cancer.

He donates money for each save, strikeout and along with his wife, Ashley, treats kids and their families to games, barbecues and concerts.

The sound of success will be easy to hear at the Perfect Game. It has produced 165 first-round picks and 109 players made it to The Show.

LCC’s Moniak is among those many predict will make it. He was All-CIF, has a full ride to UCLA and survived the first cut for the USA Baseball’s 18-and-under national squad.

But there’s a bigger team Moniak will be part of thanks to the Perfect Game Aug. 16.

“Not only do they have an opportunity to give back,’’ Hoffman said, “but maybe touch some lives that maybe are a little less fortunate than they are.’’

Contact Jay Paris at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter on jparis_sports.