The New York Yankees will celebrate the inaugural 'PLAY BALL WEEKEND,' a league-wide effort by MLB and all 30 Clubs to engage young baseball fans and celebrate the continued support of youth participation in baseball and softball. The initiative officially launches May 14th-15th in ballparks around the League.
On Sunday, May 15, the New York Yankees will welcome a group of approximately 1,000 participants from local youth baseball and softball teams (ages 6-14) for a special opportunity to walk in a parade around the warning track prior to the game. As the Yankees take the field before first pitch, they will be joined by members of the girls softball team from MS 22, a middle school located in the Bronx just blocks away from Yankee Stadium. The girls will participate in a "Field of Dreams" and stand with the Yankees during the national anthem before engaging in an on-field cap exchange. The MS 22 girls softball team is coached by Christopher Astacio, the school's physical education teacher. Following the national anthem, two children from the Bronx-based Little League Raiders Baseball will throw out ceremonial first pitches.
PLAY BALL WEEKEND is an extension of the PLAY BALL initiative (PlayBall.org), which launched in 2015 as the sport's largest effort to encourage widespread participation in both formal and casual baseball and softball activities. PLAY BALL WEEKEND also is a symbolic recognition of what MLB Clubs do yearround to support the growth of youth baseball and softball in their respective communities and beyond.
All 30 Clubs will feature a variety of customized and unique ballpark elements in support of PLAY BALL WEEKEND. Additionally, Clubs will collectively distribute more than 320,000 plastic bat & ball sets throughout the United States and Canada, both in ballparks and at community events.
Additionally, Major League players, coaches and managers all will wear specially made PLAY BALL t-shirts during batting practice and PLAY BALL patches on their uniforms during the weekend's games.
PLAY BALL is a joint initiative between MLB and USA Baseball. In addition to encouraging participation in both formal and casual baseball activities, PLAY BALL aims to give kids the opportunity to enjoy the game in a fun environment by highlighting the many ways baseball can be played and providing memorable experiences; introduce young people to the sport who otherwise may not have the chance to experience it; and offer a healthy and active lifestyle options where many of those opportunities are being offered less frequently.
PlayBall.org is the PLAY BALL initiative's online home and is accessible via MLB.com, USABaseball.com and other partner websites. PlayBall.org features youth-oriented content, including baseball trivia and quizzes, and video highlights from MLB games, social media content, photos and a "Play Ball Near You" interactive map that locates local community leagues. The site also features access to video podcasts and highlights from MLB Network's new youth-focused show "Play Ball," which features interviews and on-field demonstrations with top players throughout the League, including Nolan Arenado, Curtis Granderson, Matt Kemp, Francisco Lindor and Evan Longoria. "Play Ball" airs on Saturdays at 10:00 a.m. ET. PlayBall.org also links to USABaseball.com, which provides players, parents and coaches with the information and resources to help with proper play and instruction, including education videos featuring Hall of Famer and MLB Network analyst John Smoltz, among others. Health and safety information, including through the Pitch Smart and Play Sun Smart programs, also is available.