ANAHEIM -- Play Ball Weekend is underway in Anaheim.During batting practice ahead of Saturday's contest against Minnesota, Angels players wore shirts commemorating Major League Baseball's initiative. The gray tops featured a "Play Ball" inscription on the front. The back of the shirts read "Tater & Laser & Mash & Pa a la
ANAHEIM -- Play Ball Weekend is underway in Anaheim.
During batting practice ahead of Saturday's contest against Minnesota, Angels players wore shirts commemorating Major League Baseball's initiative. The gray tops featured a "Play Ball" inscription on the front. The back of the shirts read "Tater & Laser & Mash & Pa a la Calle."
Los Angeles left-handed pitcher Jose Alvarez said that for kids around the world, watching their favorite players compete and honor them only increases their interest.
"It's more motivational for the kids and for the little kids watching their favorite players play baseball," he said. "They grow up with that in mind, and that's nice, because if there's a lot of kids that want to play baseball, it's good for the game."
Angels manager Mike Scioscia said it's important that the league makes a significant effort to include the youth of today in the sport's growth, particularly from a perspective of health.
"I think it's paramount to get people to understand everyone needs to take care of the body," he said.
Scioscia recalled growing up, learning how to play the game with his friends, using makeshift bats and balls.
"Every day in the summer we were outside playing," Scioscia said. "We didn't play for an hour a day; we did it for five hours a day. As a society, I think we need to encourage people and inspire people to go out there."
The second annual Play Ball Weekend features a variety of youth engagement activities by nearly 200 Major League and Minor League clubs to highlight the fun of youth baseball and softball. It is a complementary program of the Play Ball initiative, designed by MLB to celebrate youth baseball and softball participation. MLB has provided clubs with more than 300,000 youth plastic bat and ball sets to distribute in both ballparks and at community events.
Many MLB clubs are hosting skills and physical fitness clinics as well as surprise "takeovers" of youth baseball and softball games or practices featuring appearances by Major League players, alumni, mascots, public address announcers and more. Activities will include kids participating in special news conferences, pregame meet-and-greets and catches with players, ceremonial first pitches, public address duties, lineup card exchanges, taking the field with players, postgame running the bases and more. Major League players, coaches and managers will wear Play Ball Weekend patches during the weekend's games, and players on home clubs will wear custom T-shirts during batting practice on the date of their club's activations.
Teams that are on the road Saturday and Sunday will host their Play Ball Weekend activities during another homestand.
Kaelen Jones is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.