The Reds have many events and ceremonies planned this weekend, including:
• Friday, May 20: PLAY BALL game (with a plastic bat and ball) on the Fan Zone Field featuring local media celebrities and boys and girls from the Reds Community Fund's youth baseball and softball teams. Honorary coaches for the teams will be Reds GM Dick Williams and Reds COO Phil Castellini. (5 to 5:45 p.m.)
• Saturday, May 21: Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) 13U Showcase Tournament at the P&G Cincinnati MLB Urban Youth Academy in Roselawn featuring teams from Cincinnati, Detroit and Chicago. Reds players, coaches and managers all will wear specially made PLAY BALL T-shirts during batting practice before the Reds vs. Mariners game. Additionally, youth from the RBI tournament with participate in a "run on" as Reds players are introduced.
• Sunday, May, 22: As part of family day at the ballpark and PLAY BALL Weekend, free Reds plastic bat and ball set to kids 14 and younger. Additionally, many activities will salute the PLAY BALL initiative, including a pregame parade of nearly 1,000 youth baseball players and coaches and a cap exchange involving kids and Reds players.
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.
The Reds youth baseball and softball initiatives are led by the Reds Community Fund. Since its inception in 2001, the Reds Community Fund has been dedicated to improving the lives of youth through its baseball-themed outreach efforts. Annual programs include:
• The Reds Rookie Success League, a free, character-building program for 6-12 year olds in Cincinnati, Fairfield, Batavia, Louisville and Dayton
• Reds Youth Baseball, which underwrites expenses for more than 700 inner-city teams
• Field Renovation, which has helped restore over 365 baseball and softball fields
Including the P&G Cincinnati MLB Urban Youth Academy, Youth Baseball "Match" and Greater Cincinnati RBI programs, more than 45,000 kids and coaches will be connected to the baseball and softball-themed outreach efforts of the Reds Community Fund in 2016.
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.
PLAY BALL WEEKEND is proudly supported by MLB corporate sponsor 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.