CHICAGO - The White Sox surprised two Tinley Park Bulldogs teams with a big league experience for 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 softbal
The White Sox surprised athletes ages 11 and 12 on the Bulldogs Black and Bulldogs Royal Blue teams with popular aspects of the White Sox game experience at Guenzi Field. White Sox public address announcer Gene Honda, organist Lori Moreland, Southpaw, Mazda Pride Crew members and retro racers provided in-game entertainment from T-shirt tosses and fan contests to music and White Sox-style player introductions. White Sox great Michael Huff also attended to catch a ceremonial first pitch thrown by Tinley Park Baseball and Softball Commissioner and Director of Fundraising and Sponsorship Matt Windle before coaching third base during the game.
"Some kids get to the park [U.S. Cellular Field] a lot and see what's going on there, but to have all these things that go on at U.S. Cellular Field happen here is certainly great for these kids," said Windle. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for them to be out here and see something like this."
The event was part of PLAY BALL WEEKEND, which is an extension of the PLAY BALL initiative that 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 year-round to support the growth of youth baseball and softball in their respective communities and beyond. 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.
"We really encourage kids to get outside and start playing ball," said Windle. "It's great to be out here in a team atmosphere and learn sportsmanship and have an organized program like this - whether it's practices or games or just a general opportunity to get outside and play ball."
Fans can still participate in PLAY BALL WEEKEND by attending Family Field Day tomorrow, May 15, at U.S. Cellular Field. This annual Chicago White Sox Charities fundraiser provides fans the opportunity to play catch on the outfield grass, visit the dugouts and bullpens, tour the White Sox clubhouse and receive complimentary pitching and hitting lessons from Bulls/Sox Academy instructors. All children's tickets include a complimentary whiffle ball and bat set as part of Major League Baseball's PLAY BALL initiative. The event was postponed due to rain. More information is available at whitesoxcharities.org.