San Diego Padres to celebrate inaugural 'Play Ball Weekend' as part of league-wide support of youth participation in baseball & softball

The San Diego Padres 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 launched May 14th-15th in ballparks around the League, with the Padres, who were on the road last weekend, holding activities May 20th- 22nd.

PLAY BALL WEEKEND gets underway this Friday, May 20th as Padres players visit the STAR/PAL youth baseball clinic for 60 students at Porter Elementary School Friday morning. Players will assist with clinic instruction and visit with the students to talk about making smart and healthy choices. Each student will be outfitted in a Padres jersey and cap and all participants also will receive tickets to attend a future Padres game at Petco Park.

On Saturday, May 21st, the Padres will mark PLAY BALL WEEKEND with a special pregame ceremony featuring 25 kids from local youth baseball and softball programs joining Padres players and coaches on the baseline during the National Anthem. Nine kids will take the field with Padres starters, and youth baseball/softball players will serve as guest broadcasters, guest Pad Squad members, guest grounds crew members and guest PA announcer.

The Padres will wrap up PLAY BALL WEEKEND on Sunday, May 22nd, with a Little League Day pregame parade around the warning track, featuring more than 7,500 Little League and softball players and coaches. The first 7,500 kids (ages 14 and under) to arrive at Sunday's game will receive a PLAY BALL whiffle ball and bat set. In addition, pre-selected youth baseball players will take 10 minutes of infield practice on Petco Park's field prior to Sunday's game.

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 year-round 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.

PLAY BALL WEEKEND is proudly supported by MLB and San Diego Padres corporate partner Scotts. Scotts and MLB were joined by Hall of Famer and MLB Youth Programs Senior Advisor Cal Ripken, Jr. in Ladson, South Carolina on Tuesday, May 10th to launch the first of six youth baseball and softball field refurbishments that will take place during the 2016 Championship Season under the "It's Good Out Here™" Field Refurbishment Program. As part of the renewed national partnership announced earlier this year, Scotts and MLB have pledged to refurbish youth ball fields around the country over the next three seasons. The It's Good Out Here™ Field Refurbishment Program is one of the key programs under MLB's PLAY BALL initiative which began last season to encourage widespread participation in all forms of baseball and softball activities, especially among youth. Scotts is a proud supporter of PLAY BALL and also the title sponsor of Scotts MLB Pitch, Hit and Run - MLB's largest national youth skills competition.

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.