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Not all the fun is on diamond for Stingers

WILLMAR -- It hasn't been all baseball for the 30 players on the Willmar Stingers Northwoods League team this summer. The players have been busy with other activities as well.

Beginning in early June, the team members have been involved in youth clinics in Willmar, Olivia, Spicer and Renville so far and are schedule to appear in Prinsburg, Atwater and Montevideo teaching boys and girls the fundamentals of the sport.

They also appeared in the Atwater Festival Days parade on June 19 and are slated to appear in parades in Willmar, Hector, Renville and Pennock this summer.

"We want to be more than just a baseball team in the community," said Stingers co-owner Ryan Voz. "We want to be more involved outside of baseball. The players are available during the day so we are getting them involved in other activities."

Several players have been making appearances via the Grow Mobile, a United Way sponsor-ed event designed to prepare children for kindergarten. Players have been traveling to areas to read books with children whose families may not be able to afford to send them to preschool.

"Some of the players have mentioned that they are used to playing in front of a thousand people, but reading a Berenstain Bears book to a six-year-old makes them more nervous," Voz laughed. "It's kind of out of their element, but they are enjoying it."

Players are also reading with children in various libraries in the region, playing bingo with senior citizens, delivering Meals on Wheels, riding in parades and other events throughout the summer.

"This isn't something the league is mandating to each team," explained Voz. "Each organization is on their own to be involved within the community. It's a chance for the players to give something back, too."

It was all Worth it

Donny Worth, the starting shortstop for the Detroit Tigers, is the first Northwoods League player to have played a game at Bill Taunton Stadium in Willmar and then make it to the big leagues.

Worth was a shortstop for the Alexandria Beetles when they played the Mankato Moon Dogs in Willmar in 2006. He won the Northwoods League batting title that year and was then drafted in the second round of the 2007 draft after he completed his junior year at Pepperdine University.

Worth was promoted by the Tigers from Class AAA Toledo and made his major leaue debut on May 16 and drove in a run with an infield single in his first major league at bat. He was returned to the minor leagues May 29 when Carlos Guillen returned from and injury and was recalled again June 6 when the Tigers designated former Twin Adam Everett for assignment. Worth is currently batting .260 with six RBI with the Tigers.

Worth is the sixth former Alexandria Beetle to have played in the big leagues. He and Nick Hundley (2004) are the only two currently playing in the majors. Hundley is the starting catcher for the San Diego Padres.