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Harris, Hudson Talk to Harlem RBI kids

mets' willie harris and san diego's orlando hudson

mets' willie harris and san diego's orlando hudson spoke to kids from the harlem rbi program tuesday.

One by one they stepped toward the microphones on either side of the auditorium, anxious to gain insight from ballplayers who know best.

A hundred or so kids from the Harlem RBI program peppered Willie Harris and San Diego’s Orlando Hudson with questions Tuesday morning during an hour-long event hosted by P.S. 171 in East Harlem.

“Why did you want to be a baseball player?”...

“What are the minor leagues like?”...

“Does it get hurt when you get hit by a pitch?”...

“What’s your favorite place to eat in New York City?”...

And neither Harris nor Hudson sugarcoated the truth.

“You called them days the “bushes,” Hudson, a four-time Gold Glove Award winner, said with a laugh. “The minor leagues, man, that’s a grind. You talking about 15-hour bus rides; some times the bus won’t start and it’s not like we stay in these five-star hotels now. The stadiums aren’t like the stadiums we got now, although it’s getting better. …

“A lot of eating at Denny’s, Waffle House, McDonald’s. It takes time in the minor leagues but once you get to the show, it all pays off.”

The pair encouraged the uniformed youngsters, who were set to play in their respective playoff games in a few hours, to pay their dues and stay the course. Making it to Major Leagues isn’t easy, Harris said, but the rewards of a long baseball career can span far beyond the paycheck.

“The financial stability, yes it’s great,” said Harris, who's played for six teams over his 11-year career. “But for me, when you can build relationships with guys over your career like Orlando and I. When we’re done playing baseball, when it’s all over with, I can call him up and we have a relationship. …You have relationships with guys and memories with guys you played with and no one can take that away from you.”

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