Grinders for Grace raises more than $18,000

Karl Schneider

FARMINGTON – A number of professional baseball players invaded Farmington Saturday afternoon to host a skills camp in an effort to raise money for the family of Adam Morrissey, the head instructor and coach of the Strike Zone training facility.

And the results were overwhelming.

About 70 kids showed up for the Grinders for Grace camp, which was organized to raise money for the medical bills of Morrissey’s 3-year-old daughter, Grace, who suffers from cerebral palsy.

“There are no words. It’s overwhelming,” Morrissey said. “I can’t even express what this means, for them to do this. It’s truly amazing. It leaves me speechless.”

The camp was organized by the Albuquerque Baseball Academy and Strike Zone. In total, from fees for the camp, a silent auction and donations, the event raised $18,500.

The Albuquerque Baseball Academy's Ryan Brewer talks to a large group of kids during the Grinders for Grace camp on Saturday at the Strike Zone training facility in Farmington.

“I think everyone gets it. The parents get it, and I think most of the kids get why we’re really here,” said ABA’s Ryan Brewer. “If the tables were turned, I know Adam would be there to help us.”

The idea to hold the camp for the Morrissey family was inspired by a similar project the two baseball programs organized in 2012, the Throw Cancer a Curveball camp. Brewer said Morrissey was instrumental in organizing that event, and that it was only right to try to return the favor.

Grinders for Grace featured batting and fielding training taught by the pro players and ended with a game of dodgeball.

Among the pro players helping with the camp was Blake Swihart, who earned the starting job at catcher for the Boston Red Sox last season, and Alex Bregman, the second overall pick in the 2015 MLB draft.

“This is my fourth year doing something like this,” said Swihart, referencing the Throw Cancer a Curveball camp, where he and Morrissey first met. “It’s great giving back to the community. We enjoy it. We like seeing the kids smile, and it puts a smile on our face, so it’s something we actually enjoy a lot to do.”

Zach Teran, 5, throws a long ball during the Grinders for Grace camp on Saturday at the Strike Zone training facility in Farmington.

As important and meaningful as the camp was to Morrissey, he said the opportunity for the kids to learn from pro players who they look up to will be something they won’t forget.

“It’s an amazing thing to have all these guys in here," Morrissey said. "For the kids of this town to get to experience a major-league Boston Red Sox catcher and a first-round draft pick with Alex and everything he has done, and every other kid that’s in there who’s playing pro ball, it’s a great thing for every kid and everyone in the community.”

As the camp began Saturday afternoon, Brewer said the number of kids in attendance was the most of any of their previous camps, and it won’t be the last camp they organize in Farmington.

“Whatever we need to figure out to help Adam and his family, we’ll figure it out,” Brewer said. “We’ll be back next year, for sure. No doubt about it.”

Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.