Former Major League Baseball player and star Turlock High School student-athlete alumnus Kevin Kramer is returning to his hometown to host multiple events in hopes of raising money for local non-profits. The pair of events are scheduled for October, with a youth baseball camp slated to kick off the efforts and the Kramer Family Foundation’s second Gala fundraiser scheduled for the following weekend.
The youth baseball camp will be the first that Kramer has ever hosted. The event is scheduled for Oct. 16 and is open to children ages 4 to 18, free of charge. Attendees will be split up by age and do age-appropriate drills within each of the groups.
“Some of the best memories I had as a kid growing up was going to the Stanislaus kids camps,” Kramer said. “Hosting something like this is just another really cool opportunity to give back and connect with the kiddos in this area and really be able to give them that face-to-face interaction that I feel doesn’t happen enough these days. We’re going to do our part, put it on, and have a great time.”
Kramer has worked alongside newly named Turlock High head varsity coach Mike Souza and assistant principal Aaron Mello to be able to host the camp at the Bulldogs’ varsity baseball field, now known as Mark de la Motte Field. Kramer is also turning to many of the other players who played collegiate and professional ball to help out at the camp.
“We’re going to try to get all the guys from Turlock and Pitman who played past high school in college or pro ball to come out and spend some time with the kids,” Kramer said. “Steve and Tyler Soderstrom, Jeremy McDonald, Brett and Ryan Cumberland, Vince Wheeland should be there, and I’m working to grab a couple more guys along with about 15 of the high school coaches.”
Vince Wheeland is a 2010 THS graduate and pitched four seasons at Oklahoma State University. Ryan Cumberland is a 2012 THS graduate who had a successful career at UC Santa Barbara. His brother, Brett, is a 2014 Bulldog alumnus and was named the 2016 Pac-12 Conference's Baseball Player of the Year and was a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award for UC Berkely before spending time with the Atlanta Braves and Baltimore Orioles organizations. Meanwhile, class of 2011’s Jeremy McDonald attended Stanislaus State and California Baptist University before being drafted by the Washington Nationals in 2016 and spending a season in their minor league system.
The father-son Soderstrom duo will quite possibly be the most noteworthy attendees at the camp, though. Steve Soderstrom is an alumnus of Fresno State and pitched multiple games for the San Francisco Giants in 1996. His son, Tyler, graduated from THS in 2020 and was a first-round draft pick by the Oakland Athletics in that year’s draft. He is currently in Double-A and is considered the #50 ranked prospect in all of baseball by MLB.com.
“For the most part, all the guys coming out are players who most of the kids know about already, which was the goal. The younger guys may not know who any of the coaches or players are, but these guys are role models for a lot of the older groups and high school guys today and it should be a really cool experience for them to hang out and learn from them,” Kramer said.
Kramer explained that registration for the baseball camp will cut off around Oct. 1 to give him and his team enough time to properly prepare. Depending on how many children register, he is also open to hosting a second day of camp on Oct. 15.
While it is free to attend, he added that donations to the Kramer Family Foundation are welcomed and encouraged. Nevertheless, donations will be a focal point for the foundation’s annual Gala the following week on Oct. 22.
“This year we’re having our charity dinner at the Grand Oak in Turlock,” Kramer shared. “This year, we have a beneficiary competition. All guests, donors, sponsors will participate in a live competition at the event. As the night goes on, it’ll trickle down to a handful of organizations and whoever receives the most votes, we’ll donate all the money evenly between the final two organizations. If the donors have a say in where their money goes, hopefully it leads to us raising more money.”
The Kramer Family Foundation raised just shy of $15,000 for Turlock’s Salvation Army and United Samaritans in their first year in 2020, but were unable to host an in-person Gala due to COVID-19. The 2021 Gala was held in-person for the first time at the Turlock Golf & Country Club and saw over $10,000 raised and split between the Turlock Youth Sports Foundation and the Society for disABILITIES.
“If somebody wants to make a donation at any time, we take donations year-round,” Kramer said. “If they want to make a donation directly correlated to our baseball camp, they can do that too. If they wanted to attend our event, sponsor our event, get a table or donate an auction item, that’s all available to them on our website.”
The Kramer Family Foundation’s goal for this year to raise $25,000.
“We’re excited to be able to host this and hoping for a great turnout,” Kramer said. “Hopefully the community can show out for us and show out for each other. Hopefully we can keep the momentum we built over the past three years. Even though we don’t live here, it’s something we care deeply about.”
To donate to the Kramer Family Foundation, register for the Oct. 16 baseball camp, buy tickets to this year’s Gala or to find out more information regarding sponsorships and the organization’s mission, head to www.KramerFamilyFoundation.com.