All Nationals players to wear special PLAY BALL attire this weekend, including t-shirt during batting practice and patch on uniforms in-game
The Washington Nationals will celebrate the second annual ‘PLAY BALL WEEKEND,’ a league-wide effort by MLB, all 30 MLB Clubs and Minor League Baseball to engage young baseball and softball fans and commemorate the continued support of youth participation.
The initiative officially launched June 3rd and 4th in ballparks around the Major Leagues, with the Nationals celebrating June 23-26.
“This weekend is a wonderful occasion to connect the sport of baseball with young people of all ages and skill levels. Our sport is a tremendous platform to help kids learn, stay healthy, and develop life skills. We’re pleased to partner with MLB and local organizations to make this weekend a meaningful way of engaging kids from around the region,” said Gregory McCarthy, vice president of community engagement for the Washington Nationals.
The Nationals will be hosting the following activities in honor of PLAY BALL WEEKEND:
SATURDAY, JUNE 24
Nationals/Inova Youth Baseball Clinic: In conjunction with Inova, the Nationals host a series of youth clinics as part of the team’s efforts to increase participation and interest in baseball and softball. Children ages eight to 14 participate in the free clinics which include on-field instruction by the Nationals coaching staff, a meet-and-greet with a player and four tickets to a Nationals home game. Registration is not open to the public.
Jockey Being Family Youth Baseball Clinic: Jockey and the Washington Nationals are pleased to host adopted youth of the DMV for the Jockey Being Family Youth Baseball Clinic at Ryan Zimmerman Field at Randall Recreation Center on Saturday at 10:00 a.m. The youth will participate in a baseball clinic held by Nationals Youth Baseball Academy Coaches and a pizza party with the Nationals Racing Presidents. Each child will be given a gift bag including a Nationals hat, two free tickets to a Nationals 2017 regular season game, a Nationals plastic bat & ball set and a Jockey Being Family teddy bear. Registration is not open to the public.
SUNDAY, JUNE 25
Youth Baseball & Softball Day Presented by Inova Sports Medicine: The Nationals welcome all area teams and leagues to the 12th annual Youth Baseball & Softball Day presented by Inova. All players and coaches are invited to participate in a pregame parade along the warning track and kids ages 12 and under can enjoy Kids Run the Bases following the game. The first 5,000 youth participating in the pregame parade will receive a Nationals athletic compression sleeve courtesy of Inova Sports Medicine. Tickets can be purchased at nationals.com/LittleLeague.
Equipment Drive: Fans are encouraged to donate new and used equipment including baseballs, softballs, bats, batting gloves, catcher’s equipment, youth batting helmets, bases, baseball pants and cleats outside of the Center Field Gate or the entrance of the youth baseball parade line in right field. Hosted in conjunction with the Baseball Tomorrow Fund, the beneficiaries of the equipment drive this year are Arlington Babe Ruth and Leveling the Playing Field. Items will be collected through the second inning. The Baseball Tomorrow Fund will also provide the Arlington Babe Ruth with a $5,000 grant to purchase additional equipment.
Nationals Plastic Bat & Ball Set Giveaway: Fans ages 12 and under will receive a Nationals plastic bat & ball set as they exit the ballpark after Sunday’s game, while supplies last. MLB Clubs will collectively distribute more than 300,000 plastic bat & ball sets throughout the United States and Canada, both in ballparks and at community events.
MONDAY, JUNE 26
Champions Day: The Nationals are proud to support youth baseball and softball in the D.C. area with the Champions Day program. The first of two Champions Days is dedicated to honoring area high school teams who have won state championships. These teams will participate in a special Champions Day presentation during the pregame ceremony and will receive complimentary tickets, a Champions Day T-shirt, a DVD copy of the ceremony and a team picture. For more information, visit nationals.com/ChampionsDay.
Major League players, coaches and managers will wear PLAY BALL WEEKEND patches on their uniforms during the weekend’s games. Additionally, players on home Clubs will wear custom t-shirts during batting practice on the date of their Club’s activations, including dates beyond the official PLAY BALL WEEKEND. The shirts will reflect fun jargon specific to either hitting or pitching. Many home ballparks will also feature PLAY BALL field stencils and run in-ballpark public service announcements in support of the PLAY BALL initiative and other youth outreach programs by Clubs.
In April, the Washington Nationals announced the expansion of the Nationals Youth Baseball Uniform Program into Northern Virginia, in partnership with Inova Sports Medicine, the official hospital network and sports medicine partner of the Nationals.
The Nationals Youth Baseball Uniform Program was launched in 2015 in an effort to support and promote kids playing baseball and softball in the area. The Uniform Program provides, at no cost to the leagues, a Nationals T-shirt or jersey and cap to every child playing baseball or softball in a District of Columbia-sanctioned Little League or the District of Columbia Parks and Recreation Rookie League. By providing the uniforms at no cost to the leagues and families, the Nationals aim to break down and minimize financial barriers that can prevent kids from playing baseball.
Inova Sports Medicine and the Nationals are proud that the Virginia District 4 Little League and Virginia District 7 Cal Ripken Babe Ruth leagues now enjoy the same benefits as Little League participants in the District of Columbia.
In addition, Inova Sports Medicine now offers free adult education events that the participating Northern Virginia leagues can utilize as a benefit of this partnership. Educational topics include emergency preparedness and first-aid, injury prevention, and hydration and nutrition guidelines for athletes.
With the addition of 4,500 kids in Northern Virginia, there are more than 8,300 youth players in the metro area wearing Nationals-branded uniforms during the 2017 spring season. Youth players are also given the opportunity to experience a Major League game at Nationals Park through a complimentary ticket offer, and connect with Nationals players as they visit the leagues throughout the season. More information can be found at nationals.com/Community.
All 30 MLB Clubs will feature a variety of customized and unique ballpark elements in support of PLAY BALL WEEKEND.
PLAY BALL WEEKEND will be bolstered by a national television and online advertising campaign developed by Anomaly, MLB’s creative agency, and supported by Chevrolet, an active sponsor of the PLAY BALL initiative. The spot, which can be viewed HERE, highlights kids having fun games of catch in various different environments and settings.
PLAY BALL WEEKEND is a complementary program of the ‘PLAY BALL’ initiative. In 2015, Major League Baseball launched PLAY BALL as the sport’s largest collective effort to encourage young people to participate in baseball- or softball-related activities, including formal leagues, special events and casual forms of play. PLAY BALL events have become MLB’s signature youth engagement activity during the professional and amateur baseball and softball calendar, particularly in connection with key dates from Spring Training, through the MLB Championship Season and into the Postseason and World Series. PLAY BALL aims to highlight the fun and community-focused natures of the game at the Major League, professional, amateur and youth levels. In addition to flagship partnerships with USA Baseball and USA Softball, PLAY BALL is also supported by all 30 MLB Clubs, Minor League Baseball, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and MLB Corporate Partners Chevrolet, Scotts and Nathan’s Famous. In 2016, MLB Network launched Play Ball, a weekly player interview and demonstration show geared toward kids. In the program, MLB stars have discussed their experiences reaching the Major Leagues and shared tips in one-on-one demonstrations and conversations with MLB Network analysts. Currently in its second season, Play Ball is available on multiple platforms, including MLB Network, MLB At Bat, MLB.com and Facebook.
On May 18th, MLB announced that baseball and softball combined to rank as the most participated team sports in the United States in 2016 (25 million participants), according to the annual Topline Participation Report produced by the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA). Overall baseball participation increased by 7.7 percent and slow-pitch softball participation increased by 8.1 percent in 2016, with casual participation in both baseball and slow-pitch softball showing the highest growth. In 2016, casual participation in baseball rose by 18.1 percent and slow-pitch softball increased by 12.4 percent. Casual participation in baseball and slow-pitch softball is up 34 percent over the last five years. When combined, baseball and softball (fast-and slow-pitch) have more casual participants than any other sport (10.25 million total casual participants).