Major League Baseball and USA Baseball jointly announced a five-year extension to their partnership agreement on Thursday.
The original partnership was announced in 2006. Since then, MLB and USA Baseball have worked together to open the National Training Complex in Cary, N.C., and help Team USA win 32 gold medals over eight different programs, including 10 world championships. In the last 10 years, 150 USA Baseball alumni have been selected in the first round of the MLB Draft, including nine No. 1 overall picks.
"As the National Governing Body of the sport, USA Baseball is an important strategic partner in strengthening the amateur and youth levels of our game," Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr. said. "We have made progress throughout our partnership, particularly with the Play Ball initiative, and we look forward to instituting more positive developments in the near future."
A key feature of the partnership agreement is the creation of the Sport Development department, which is a cooperative endeavor by both organizations to grow the game across the country, as well as provide resources for coaches, players, umpires and parents. This department has already worked with MLB and the 30 clubs on several initiatives such as Play Ball, which encourages formal and casual youth participation in baseball and softball.
Other program initiatives include the Online Education Center, the Amateur Resource Center and the USA Baseball Mobile Coach app. All educational offerings by the Sport Development department are free of charge to the public.
USA Baseball continues to work closely with MLB on diversity-driven programs, such as the MLB Urban Youth Academy, the Elite Development Initiative and the Breakthrough Series, to provide exposure to underprivileged amateurs around the country.
"Our relationship with Major League Baseball over the past 10 years has fueled the growth of USA Baseball in ways none of us ever really imagined," said Paul Seiler, executive director and CEO at USA Baseball. "Beyond our many on-field successes, this alliance has enabled our organization to become a true leader and model governing body in the world of sport, both domestically and internationally. We're excited to see where the next five years take this partnership to the benefit of our membership and our national pastime."
More information on USA Baseball and its programs can be found at USABaseball.com and USABaseball.education.
Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyRsports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.