The Amateur Softball Association (ASA)/USA Softball, the National Governing Body of Softball (NGB) in the United States, is excited to announce their partnership with Major League Baseball (MLB) in joining USA Baseball by supporting the "PLAY BALL" initiative (PlayBall.org). The initiative, which was launched in June 2015, encourages widespread participation in all forms of softball and baseball activities among all age groups, especially youth.
"We are thrilled to partner with MLB and USA Baseball for the Play Ball initiative," said ASA/USA Softball Executive Director Craig Cress. "This partnership allows us to continue in our mission to grow the game and provide opportunities for youth to get involved in our great sport at any level. We've had the opportunity to participate in Play Ball events throughout the year, and to see the excitement and joy that picking up a bat and ball brings to the kids that attend speaks volumes about our game. We're excited to spread that excitement, and grow the game all the way to the grassroots level."
PLAY BALL highlights the many ways baseball and softball can be played, whether at Championship or recreational play or something as simple as playing catch or a game of wiffle ball. The initiative also provides players, parents and coaches with the information and resources to help with proper play and instruction. Through a partnership with ASA/USA Softball and USA Baseball, PLAY BALL brings awareness and accessibility to the program's initiatives through special events and promotional opportunities. ASA/USA Softball will also help promote PLAY BALL throughout the 70 local associations across the U.S. as well as assist MLB and its baseball clubs in conducting Softball Series events through various local associations.
PlayBall.org is the PLAY BALL initiative's online home and is accessible via MLB.com, USABaseball.com, USASoftball.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 "PlayBall 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, Chicago Cubs Manager Joe Maddon, and Kansas City Royals Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Dayton Moore, among others. Health and safety information, including through the Pitch Smart and Play Sun Smart programs, also is available.
"Major League Baseball is pleased to continue strengthening our ties with the governing bodies of our sport with this partnership with USA Softball," said Tony Reagins, Senior Vice President, Major League Baseball. "The growth of softball is important to the future prosperity of our sport, and their support of PLAY BALL is a welcome and natural collaboration of this relationship."
One of the nation's largest sports organizations, ASA/USA Softball serves as the NGB for softball to the United States Olympic Committee and the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC). ASA/USA Softball also conducts over 100 National Championships each year and registers over 165,000 teams annually. On an annual basis, ASA/USA Softball also conducts over 80,000 background checks on coaches and personnel who surround the game while certifying over 25,000 ACE (Achieve, Certify, Educate) coaches.