JR. HOME RUN DERBY ON ITS WAY IN 2016: Major League Baseball will roll out a new program in 2016 called the "Jr. Home Run Derby." Local competitions, for kids ages 14-and-under, will be run in various cities around the country, followed by regional finals that MLB will run in several key markets. The winners of the regional tournaments will be flown to All-Star Week to participate in the finals in the MLB Ballpark (e.g. Petco Park in 2016). Overall winner will be recognized at the MLB Home Run Derby. Parents and kids can register now at PlayBall.org. More information to follow in the coming months.
VETERAN OF THE GAME: Tonight's "Veteran of the Game" is Matias Ferreira, who is is a Medically Retired United States Marine. Ferreira recently played the role of hero once more when he saved a baby who was stuck in a smoking car in Queens. Ferreira served in the USMC from May 2009-2012 as a Machine Gunner attached to 1st Battalion 8th Marines 2nd Marine division out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. During Matias' first tour in Helmand Province, Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Matias was injured and lost both legs below the knees amongst other injuries in result of an I.E.D (Improvised Explosive Device) blast. After being medivacked to Landstul, Germany and Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C, Matias began his new journey in learning to walk, run, and live his life in the most equal way as possible as he did before. After many intensive surgeries, Matias learned to walk on his "New Legs". In a year's timeframe, Matias ran the Navy 5 Miler, The Marine Corps 10k, Disney Half Marathon, amongst other races. After medically retiring, Matias returned to College in which he attended SUNY Farmingdale in pursuit of a Bachelor Degree in Business Management. In his free time, Matias plays Several sports including Hockey with the Long Island Morkmen, volunteers with many non-profit organizations working with kids with disabilities and amputations and other veterans in need. Some of those organizations are but not limited to The Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team, WWAST Kids Camp, Catch a Lift Foundation, SUDS, Homes For Our Troops, Semper Fi Fund, Achilles International, and several others. Matias now resides in Wantagh, NY with his wife Tiffany and 11-month-old daughter Tianna.
MLB & METS HOST "PLAY BALL" EVENT IN HINTON PARK: Earlier today, the New York Mets and Major League Baseball hosted 300 kids from local Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) leagues, Queens youth baseball/softball associations and local little league programs in a "PLAY BALL" event in Hinton Park in Corona. The event, which included appearances by Mets Hall of Famer Mookie Wilson, All-Star center fielder and 2015 Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet winner Andrew McCutchen, star of Fullscreen Films "The Outfield" Nash Grier, Mr. Met and more, featured activities that highlighted the variety of informal/casual ways baseball and softball can be played. Also in attendance were various members of youth-affiliated programs, including 2015 RBI World Series Champions from the Dominican Republic, Miami and Cleveland; MLB Urban Youth Academies from Cincinnati, Compton, Houston, New Orleans, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.; and USA Baseball 18-U National team (Champions of the 2015 WBSC Baseball World Cup). The kids played WIFFLE ball, took a turn at Home Run Derby, tried to beat the clock in baserunning drills and played vitilla, which is form of baseball played in the Dominican Republic with plastic caps and thin sticks. Every kids went home with a plastic bat and ball set from Franklin and a PLAY BALL t-shirt.
HEAD & SHOULDERS DONATION PRESENTATION TO RBI PROGRAM: In celebration of this year's Season of the #Whiff campaign, Head & Shoulders, the Official Shampoo of Major League Baseball, will present $384,987 to the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program. Throughout the season, Head & Shoulders donated $1 for every strikeout across the league. Fans also got involved by tweeting #whiff throughout the season to secure additional donations for their favorite club's local RBI leagues. For more information on the Season of the #Whiff, follow Head & Shoulders on Twitter at @HeadShoulders.
2015 RBI WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS RECOGNIZED: Several members from each championship team of the 2015 RBI World Series will be recognized during pre-game ceremonies. Teams include Miami Marlins RBI (senior baseball division), Dominican Republic North RBI (junior baseball division) and Cleveland Baseball Federation RBI (softball division).
MEMBERS FROM THREE MLB URBAN YOUTH ACADEMIES TO ATTEND GAME FOUR: Six members of the MLB Urban Youth Academies from around the country also will be recognized during pre-game ceremonies. The members are their respective Academy's "Youth of the Year," and they include, Mario Romero from the MLB Urban Youth Academy in Compton, California; Brandon Watson from the New Orleans MLB Urban Youth Academy; Cameron Lavergne from the Houston Astros MLB Urban Youth Academy; Deeirow Howard from P&G Cincinnati MLB Urban Youth Academy; Kevin Anderson from the Nationals Youth Baseball Academy in Washington, D.C.; and Justin Billups from the Philadelphia Phillies MLB Urban Youth Academy. MLB's Urban Youth Academies aim to set the standard for mentorship and development in underserved communities through professional-level baseball and softball instruction, education assistance and career development programs - all while serving as positive members of their respective communities. Since their inception, the cost-free, year-round Academies have seen more than 500 players to on to play on the collegiate level, more than 100 players drafted by MLB clubs, and many more establish non-playing careers.
USA BASEBALL 18-U NATIONAL TEAM/WORLD CHAMPIONS: The USA Baseball 18-U National Team also will be recognized for their World Cup championship in the 2015 WBSC Baseball World Cup in Japan. They defeated the host team 2-1 in the championship, and finished the tournament with an 8-1 record. This was the third consecutive title for the USA 18-U World Cup team. Sixteen players currently on the Mets and Royals have previously participated on USA Baseball National Teams.
BABE RUTH "PLAY BALL" SPOT: Major League Baseball created a new "PLAY BALL" spot that features the voice of legendary Hall of Famer Babe Ruth talking about what a joy it is to PLAY BALL. Listen to Babe Ruth's timeless words of wisdom, which still ring true today, about and for the game he loved so much, at the following link:
The sound is from Babe's final public address at Yankee Stadium in on April 27, 1947 on "Babe Ruth Day," and full transcript is below: "The only real game I think in the world, baseball. Some people think if you give them a baseball, they're athletes right away, but you can't do that in baseball. You got to start from way down the bottom, when you are six or seven years of age. You got to let it grow up with you. And if you're successful and you try hard enough, you're bound to come out on top just like these boys have come to the top now."
ABOUT PLAY BALL: In June, Major League Baseball and USA Baseball launched "PLAY BALL," a new initiative to encourage widespread participation in all forms of baseball and softball activities among all age groups, especially youth. The new program highlights the variety of ways (both formally and informally) that baseball and softball can be played, including outside of the traditionally-organized leagues and tournaments, ranging from playing catch, stickball and WIFFLE Ball to participating in skills competitions like "Pitch, Hit & Run." The initiative also provides players, parents and coaches with the information and resources to help with proper play and instruction. PlayBall.org serves as the initiative's online home and is accessible via MLB.com, USABaseball.com and other partner websites. Coaching tips and parent resources are prominent components of the site. PlayBall.org also gives parents, coaches and kids information on how to participate in Play Ball activities, links to youth-related news and events, and searchable maps to help find local community leagues. Health and safety information, including on MLB's Pitch Smart and Play Sun Smart programs, also are available.
HANK AARON AWARD: The winners of the 2015 Hank Aaron Award will be announced at a press conference prior to Game Four tonight at Citi Field. The press conference will include Commissioner of Baseball Robert D. Manfred, Jr. and Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.
"GOD BLESS AMERICA" PERFORMANCE: NYPD Police Officer Makiah Brown will sing "God Bless America" before the bottom of the 7th inning.
FIRST-BALL DELIVERY: Mitchell Jones, 15, a member of the Educational Alliance Edgies Clubhouse in Manhattan, will deliver the ceremonial first ball to the mound with former Mets closer and member of the 1986 World Series Champion Mets Jesse Orosco. Jones is a sophomore at Urban Assembly Gateway School.