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Major League Effort Gives Southland Baseball Fans a Quick Fix : Benefit: High school and college players join big leaguers for two exhibitions this weekend.


LONG BEACH — Seventeen-year old Tim Baron of Thousand Oaks stood on a pitcher's mound on a sun-drenched diamond and threw batting practice to . . . major leaguers?

That's right. Baron, a senior at Thousand Oaks High, was one of a handful of high school players practicing with the big boys Thursday at Blair Field for an upcoming charity event.

"It was pretty sweet," Baron said.

They were preparing for a pair of exhibition games this weekend, with an interesting twist. The prep players--including a handful of area standouts--will team with an assortment of big leaguers against local college players to raise money for a Los Angeles charity, Children of Promise.

The organization sponsors a mentor program for fatherless boys. The event was originated by George Voita and Hal Sacks, who work out of a Calabasas office and came up with the idea for the games only two weeks ago.

They made hurried preparations and pulled together such major- league players as Dave Hansen of the Dodgers, Mike Fitzgerald of the Angels, Torey Lovullo of the Seattle Mariners and Brian Hunter of the Cincinnati Reds.

They also invited a select group of high school players such as Baron, Darrell Dent of Montclair Prep, Brandon Hernandez of Saugus and Marc Lacson and John Wilson of L.A. Baptist. The players are not representing their high school teams in the contests and their eligibility is not affected.

Baron was the only local high school player on hand Thursday, a day when a World Series game might have been played if not for the strike. The atmosphere was free and easy as the pros mixed with younger players. Wearing different uniforms, they chatted in the outfield and shagged fly balls.

The games Saturday and Sunday promise more of the same friendly atmosphere and a chance for baseball-starved fans to see big-league players on the field.

Also playing Sunday will be Ila Borders, the female pitcher from Southern California College who made national headlines by playing for the NAIA school.

Game times are 1:15 p.m. and will feature a different lineup each day. Batting practice begins at noon and will be followed by an autograph session and home run derby.

Longtime area scout George Genovese will coach one team.

Tickets are $5.50. Information: 818-782-6101.

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