'Play Ball Park' in San Diego headlines 2016 All-Star Week youth activity

Other elements include All-Star Youth Classic, All-Star WIFFLE Ball Series, finals of skills competitions

Major League Baseball today announced the inaugural "PLAY BALL Park" to headline youth activity during 2016 MLB All-Star Week in San Diego. Located in front of the Hilton San Diego Bayfront, PLAY BALL Park will be an 80,000-square-foot outdoor space for various programming partners to provide fun, engaging and educational activities for youth baseball and softball players and their families -- all in the backdrop of the Midsummer Classic. PLAY BALL Park, which is generously supported by Chevrolet and Scotts, will be open Thursday, July 7th through Tuesday, July 12th. Admission to PLAY BALL Park will be free of charge for all participants.

PLAY BALL Park programming partners will include USA Baseball, USA Softball, the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation, the Positive Coaching Alliance, Boys & Girls Clubs of America and other PLAY BALL initiative supporters. Tentative programming includes USA Baseball's "Fun at Bat," "Backyard Baseball," and practice planning activations; softball instruction and skills training from USA Softball; Quick Baseball games administered by the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation, coaches and parents culture training by Positive Coaching Alliance, and other programming to be announced. There will be additional PLAY BALL Park opportunities for youth during All-Star week with "Free Play" times daily. In conjunction with the San Diego Padres, Major League Baseball has reached out to San Diego area youth baseball and softball organizations for kids to be participants in PLAY BALL Park events.

Four specific PLAY BALL-affiliated events will take place throughout San Diego during All-Star Week, including the All-Star WIFFLE Ball Series, the National Finals of the T-Mobile Jr. Home Run Derby and Scotts MLB Pitch, Hit & Run competitions and the All-Star Youth Classic.

1. ALL-STAR WIFFLE BALL SERIES -- Friday, July 8th-Sunday, July 10th

San Diego-area Boys & Girls Clubs will field teams of 10-12 year-olds to compete in the second annual All-Star WIFFLE Ball Series. Competition will be single elimination games. Quarterfinal matches will take place at PLAY BALL Park on Friday, July 8th. Quarterfinal winners advance to the semi-finals on Saturday, July 9th at "Park at the Park" at Petco Park. Semi-finalists advance to the Finals at the All Star FanFest Diamond at the San Diego Convention Center on All-Star Sunday, July 10th. The two final teams will receive special prizes, a meet & greet with a Padres Legend and tickets to All-Star Sunday events.

2. T-MOBILE JR. HOME RUN DERBY FINALS -- Saturday, July 9th (8:30 a.m. at Petco Park)

Sixteen regional finalists will compete to be crowned the inaugural champion of the T-Mobile Jr. Home Run Derby on the field at Petco Park. The finals, taking place at Petco Park on Saturday, July 9th at 8:30 a.m., will include age divisions (12u & 14u) that feature 16 total competitors (eight in each division). The first year of the T-Mobile Jr. Home Run Derby saw more than 800 competitions across the United States.  The T-Mobile Jr. Home Run Derby competition is a new and exciting addition to the PLAY BALL initiative, and has served as a catalyst for youth participation by providing an exciting and cost-free competition in various areas throughout the country. Regional champions each received tickets to All-Star Sunday and the T-Mobile Home Run Derby.

3. SCOTTS MLB PITCH, HIT & RUN NATIONAL FINALS -- Monday, July 11th (Noon at Petco Park)

The National Finals of the 2016 Scotts Major League Baseball Pitch, Hit & Run competition, the official youth skills competition of MLB, will take place on the field at Petco Park on Monday, July 11th at noon, prior to Gatorade All-Star Workout Day. Beginning in March, approximately 625,000 youth participated in more than 4,400 competitions across North America, with the top three boys and girls nationwide from each age group (7-­8, 9-­10, 11-­12 and 13-­14) competing at the National Finals and participating in activities during MLB All-Star Week. Scotts, the "Official Lawn Care Company of Major League Baseball," is in its fourth year sponsoring the grassroots program. Scotts MLB Pitch, Hit & Run (PHR) invites youth to demonstrate their skills by competing in pitching, hitting and running competitions.

ALL-STAR YOUTH CLASSIC

Major League Baseball will host participating teams of the "All-Star Youth Classic," a friendly, round-robin event consisting of more than 140 young baseball and softball players, ages 11-12. The annual event, formerly known as the "Jr. RBI Classic," has been reformatted and renamed to include teams from various national youth baseball and softball organizations in addition to those from the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program.  The event, particularly the friendly tournament games, will be held from July 8th through July 11th at the Robb Field Complex at Ocean Beach in San Diego. The twelve teams scheduled to participate in this eighth annual event include several special groups, such as Slaterettes Girls Baseball League -- an all-girls baseball team out of Pawtucket, R.I., Child Center of NY RBI -- a team from Far Rockaway in Queens, N.Y. that features both boys and girls, two teams -- Municipal (baseball) and Tremendas (softball) -- out of Tijuana, Baja California in Mexico, and several leagues from the San Diego community. In addition to the games, the All-Star Youth Classic will provide the kids with the opportunity to participate in All-Star Week events such as MLB All-Star FanFest at the San Diego Convention Center, All-Star Sunday and Gatorade All-Star Workout Day at Petco Park, and various PLAY BALL-related activities. The All-Star Youth Classic also will offer these young men and women a variety of off-field life experiences, including rooming on campus at the University of San Diego and a community service activity.

Following are the cities (and national youth leagues) represented in the 2016 All-Star Youth Classic:

  • Anaheim, California (Angels RBI) -- Softball
  • Far Rockaway, Queens, New York (Child Center of NY RBI) -- Baseball
  • Houston, Texas (Northside Houston Little League) -- Softball
  • Indianapolis, Indiana (Douglass Little League)
  • Laurel, Mississippi (Enterprise Dixie Youth Baseball) -- Baseball
  • Memphis, Tennessee (Memphis Redbirds RBI) -- Baseball
  • Pawtucket, Rhode Island (Slaterettes Girls Baseball League) -- Baseball
  • San Diego, California (Peninsula Youth Softball Association) -- Softball
  • San Diego, California (San Diego Military) -- Baseball
  • San Diego, California (Jackie Robinson YMCA) -- Baseball
  • Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico (Municipal) -- Baseball
  • Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico (Tremendas) -- Softball 

COMMUNITY LEGACY EFFORT

MLB and the Padres plan to donate nearly $5 million, through MLB Charities and the Padres Foundation, a significant portion of which will help renovate and build four youth baseball and softball fields in the San Deigo region. These include: a playing surface at the Club de Niños y Niñas de Mexico in Tijuana, Baja California -- the first cross-border, international project in Midsummer Classic history; a multi-purpose baseball diamond at the Conrad Prebys Branch of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater San Diego in Escondido, CA; the first softball-specific field project at the San Pasqual Academy in Escondido; and the development of the youth baseball and softball fields and outdoor recreational area in conjunction with the complete rebuild of the Jackie Robinson YMCA complex.

BASEBALL TOMORROW FUND

The Baseball Tomorrow Fund (BTF) recently announced its 2016 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game "BTF Kids Take the Field," featuring nine youth players from the Mission School in Escondido. The participants will take each position and be greeted by the Team USA starters. Participants represent STAR/PAL, a past BTF grant recipient. STAR/PAL youth programs are free-of-charge and feature law enforcement officers serving as positive role models. Programs include athletics, mentoring, leadership development, violence prevention and excursions. STAR/PAL has received BTF grants totaling more than $20,000 for baseball and softball equipment and uniforms. Baseball Tomorrow Fund also contributed $180,000 for the installation of Musco Lighting, Inc. equipment at the newly renovated baseball field at Jackie Robinson YMCA. 

PLAY BALL

PLAY BALL is a joint initiative between MLB, USA Baseball and USA Softball. In addition to encouraging participation in both formal and casual baseball and softball activities, PLAY BALL aims to give kids the opportunity to enjoy the game in a fun environment by highlighting the many ways baseball and softball 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 option 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.comUSABaseball.comUSASoftball.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, Josh Donaldson, Todd Frazier, Curtis Granderson, Matt Kemp, Francisco Lindor, Evan Longoria and Dustin Pedroia. "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, is also available.

MLB All-Star Week includes the MLB All-Star Game presented by MasterCard at Petco Park (July 12th), Gatorade All-Star Workout Day featuring the T-Mobile Home Run Derby (July 11th), All-Star Sunday featuring the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game and All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game (July 10th), MLB All-Star FanFest at the San Diego Convention Center (July 8th-12th), plus a lineup of additional events taking place around the region. The 87th Midsummer Classic will be televised nationally by FOX Sports; in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS; and worldwide by partners in more than 160 countries. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information about MLB All-Star Week and to purchase tickets, please visit AllStarGame.com and follow @AllStarGame on social media.