D-backs champion youth sports participation

D-backs champion youth sports participation

PHOENIX -- The D-backs had a ball, on and off the field, all weekend.

"It's something we try to do all year long," D-backs president and CEO Derrick Hall said. "We try to get kids to play baseball and softball and become fans for life. I really appreciate the fact that Major League Baseball makes it a league-wide initiative."

Play Ball Weekend is an extension of the Play Ball initiative, which launched in 2015 as MLB's largest effort to encourage widespread participation in both formal and casual youth baseball and softball activities. The D-backs did their part.

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As part of Play Ball Weekend, brothers Hollis and Rhett Doherty threw out the ceremonial first pitches prior to Sunday's game against the Giants. Hollis, who plays for the St. Francis Xavier Athletic Association Little League, was recently diagnosed with a DIPG brain tumor and is undergoing radiation treatment. The festivities also included Little Leaguers from Saturday's D-backs Give Back event taking the field with D-backs players and a pregame parade around the field for youth sports leagues.

The Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation and Chase donated new equipment to the Coolidge High School baseball and softball programs during a pregame ceremony. Children 15 and under were invited to run the bases at the conclusion of Sunday's game.

The D-backs also gave away a youth T-ball set to the first 10,000 children in attendance at Sunday's game.

The D-backs hosted a series of festivities throughout the weekend, including the dedication of J.J. Putz Field, a donation to the Baseball Tomorrow Fund and the D-back Give Back Little League takeover.

D-backs bring taste of Chase Field to youth league

"I see the kids smiling with the bats and ball they are getting from us today, and yesterday to have Baxter and couple of players and the Legends and Rally-backs take over a Little League like they did was special," Hall said. "That's a memory that will be there and last a lifetime, but more importantly, it encourages them to get out and exercise and do it with baseball and love the game and participate as long as you can. It's really spreading goodwill, but also encouraging participation."

Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for MLB.com based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.