In recognition of Major League Baseball’s annual Play Ball Weekend, the Orioles will host a variety of clinics, events, and ceremonies at Oriole Park and in the community between Friday, May 3, and Sunday, May 5, to teach baseball fundamentals and to celebrate the many ways in which youth baseball and softball offer children valuable life lessons. Orioles players will wear Play Ball t-shirts that read “Let the Kids Play” during batting practice throughout the weekend and pregame on Sunday during the Youth Baseball & Softball Day Parade presented by Nike.
The weekend will begin with a Fun At Bat event for students at Cherry Hill Elementary School (801 Bridgeview Rd, Baltimore, MD 21225) with Orioles infielder and USA Baseball alumnus (2007-08, 14U) RIO RUIZ and the Oriole Bird on Friday, May 3, from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. ET. Launched within Baltimore City Public Schools in 2018, Fun At Bat, a USA Baseball youth initiative supported by MLB, is a bat-and-ball program for children created for use in elementary school physical education classes. The goal of the program is to promote fun and active lifestyles for children, while teaching the fundamental skills of bat-and-ball sports and encouraging valuable character traits such as leadership, honesty, and teamwork. With help from teachers and staff, Ruiz will lead students through Fun At Bat activities. USA Baseball provides the Fun At Bat equipment and curriculum to Baltimore City Public Schools at no cost. In just its second year, the program has been implemented in more than 120 elementary and middle schools, impacting over 55,000 Baltimore City youth. More information about the Fun At Bat program can be found at www.funatbat.org.
Also on Friday, the Orioles will invite five girls baseball players from Roland Park Baseball League to Oriole Park to participate in an autograph exchange with their favorite Orioles players as part of a special pregame ceremony. The Orioles will donate 100 tickets for that evening’s game to all girls baseball players within the Roland Park Little League program, as well as their coaches and families.
Play Ball Weekend will continue on Saturday, May 4, with a MLB “Play Ball Activation” clinic for over 100 Fort Meade youth baseball and softball players from 11:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. at Fort George G. Meade Military Base (902 Reece Road, Odenton, MD 20755). Orioles infielder/outfielder Stevie Wilkerson, as well as Orioles alumni Larry Bigbie, Ken Dixon, and Larry Sheets will join Fort Meade youth baseball coaches to teach baseball fundamentals with a focus on base running, fielding, hitting, and throwing, while also encouraging discipline, leadership, good sportsmanship and other important team-oriented values. The Orioles will provide each participant with an Orioles cap, Play Ball arm sleeve, and tickets to a future Orioles home game.
Also on Saturday, the Orioles will conduct a clinic for over 300 inner city youth baseball and softball players, mainly from the Baltimore Orioles Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program, at Roosevelt Park (1221 W 36th St, Baltimore, MD 21211) with the help of Baltimore City Recreation & Parks. Orioles pitcher Mychal Givens and infielder Richie Martin, along with Orioles alumni Al Bumbry and Rick Krivda, will help teach baseball fundamentals to the participants, including pitching, base running, fielding, and hitting, while also focusing on the values of commitment, accountability, and inclusiveness. In addition, Bowie State University softball coaches and players will assist with conducting the softball portion of the clinic. The Orioles will provide each participant with Orioles gear and tickets to a future home game. Volunteers from Orioles RBI sponsor T. Rowe Price will assist in the clinic and hand out drawstring bags to the participants. Additionally, Orioles partners Hoffman’s Meats from Hagerstown and Delaware North Sportservice will donate food for participants.
Throughout Play Ball Weekend, the Orioles will recognize Birdland Community Heroes who have impacted our community by encouraging the development of life skills and characteristics including responsibility, compassion, and perseverance to youth through baseball and softball programs. On Friday, the Orioles will recognize Quinn Hren, President of the South Baltimore Little League. Hren has volunteered for the South Baltimore Little League for over 27 years. She has served on the Board of Directors, serving as President of the league for the past 13 years. Hren’s efforts ensure recreational baseball is accessible to children ages 4-12 in the South Baltimore area. Her determination impacts more than 300 children and 200 families each year, and throughout her many years of service, she has reached more than 5,000 children. On Sunday, the Orioles will recognize Andre Brown, League Commissioner of Gardenville Baseball and 16-18 Orioles RBI Coach. Coach Brown has been involved in the Orioles RBI baseball program for the last 16 years. In 2017, Brown and his coaching staff led the Senior Orioles RBI Baseball team to the RBI World Series, after winning the RBI Mid-Atlantic Regional Tournament in Philadelphia, Pa. Brown uses baseball as a vehicle to teach life lessons to his players including the value of family, selflessness, and dependability. Brown has had a prominent impact on over 500 players, parents, and colleagues throughout his coaching career.
The Orioles will wrap up Play Ball Weekend on Sunday with the annual Youth Baseball and Softball Day presented by Nike. More than 10,000 pre-registered youth baseball and softball players will participate in a pregame parade around the warning track and be greeted by Orioles players as they walk by the dugout. Additionally, a randomly-selected youth baseball or softball player will announce “Play Ball” in celebration of Play Ball Weekend at Oriole Park. Following the game, all fans ages 4-14 will be able to participate in Kids Run the Bases presented by Weis Markets.
Major League Baseball launched the Play Ball campaign in 2015 and expanded the effort in 2016 to include Play Ball Weekend, an annual league-wide initiative to showcase efforts to grow youth baseball and softball. Additional information on Orioles Play Ball events, clinics, and programs can be found on Orioles.com/playball.