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“There’s three parts to a pitch,” explained Texas Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux to a group of more than 50 boys ages 8 – 16 at a recent baseball clinic. “Balance. Power. And follow through. Then I let the dog eat.”

The boys lap up every word spoken by the colorful coach.

“Stay online and you’ll go right down the line,” he adds. “Remember, when you go downhill, your nose is over your toes.”

But he’s also quick to tell the impressionable boys, “The most important stat is not your ERA (Earned Run Average) or BP (Batting Percentage)… it’s your GPA (Grade Point Average),” he says, much to the approval of the parents in the stands. He also tells them, “The shortcut to the Big Leagues is straight A’s, making your bed, taking out the trash and cleaning up the dog poop in your yard. The man you grow into is more important than what kind of ballplayer you are.” Which, of course, was met with even more approving nods from the parents.

Maddux is more than just a Major League Baseball coach. He’s a husband, father and caring member of the community. Maddux recently teamed up with Rangers’ bullpen coach Andy Hawkins to host their fourth annual pitching clinic at Rangers Ballpark to benefit the National Alopecia Areata Foundation.

Alopecia (AL-OH-PEE-SHA) areata (AIR-EE-AH-TAH) is the most common autoimmune disease that can result in partial or total loss of scalp and body hair. Affecting more than 6.5 million Americans and 145 million people worldwide, it occurs in both sexes and affects all races and ages, but young people are most often affected. Alopecia areata currently has no cure, and no treatment that is approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

“I’ve personally seen how traumatic the effects of this disease can be,” said Maddux. “I have a family member that suffers from it. We use our pitching clinic to raise money for NAAF, but, more importantly, we want to raise awareness of the need for more research to find treatments and ultimately a cure for this disease.”

Alopecia areata is highly unpredictable and cyclical. Hair can grow back in or fall out again at any time, and the disease course is different for each person. Due to public unfamiliarity with the disease, alopecia areata can have a profound impact on one’s life and status, both at work and at school. More information about alopecia aerata and NAAF is available online at naaf.org.

In addition to one-on-one pitching tips and personalized critiques by Maddux and Hawkins, the half-day camp featured situational fielding exercises, hitting and running drills.

“Our goal is to teach the proper mechanics of ball speed, control, and movement according to each player's ability,” concludes Maddux. “We show them how to be mentally prepared with a positive attitude, while mastering the strategy of the game.”

For many of the boys the highlight of the camp was simply being able to play on the same field as the Texas Rangers players. More than one boy was overheard boasting how they would one day be playing there for real. A lofty goal for sure. But for that one day, the dream didn’t seem so far away.

Information about future baseball camps and clinics is available at texasrangers.com and on Facebook.com/texasrangersyouthballpark.