MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee Public Schools Superintendent Darienne Driver was on hand at Miller Park on Saturday to help the Brewers celebrate Major League Baseball's Play Ball initiative.
MLB is hosting its inaugural Play Ball Weekend, a league-wide effort in conjunction with USA Baseball to engage young baseball fans and celebrate youth participation in baseball and softball. The Brewers and Padres wore Play Ball t-shirts for batting practice Saturday, then wore jerseys in the game with Play Ball patches. Players all over baseball did the same.
When Milwaukee players took the field for the national anthem, they were joined by MPS students, each of whom took home an authentic Brewers cap. The youngest were 7-year-olds Jazerea Green and Jaylen Marshall Stone, who stood at home plate while Padres coach Mark McGwire and Brewers coach Ed Sedar exchanged lineup cards and met the umpires.
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On Friday, dozens of other MPS students met Brewers players Chris Capuano, Chris Carter and Alex Presley, who visited Milwaukee's Brown Street Academy to serve as batting-practice instructors to small groups of elementary school students. The kids had new tools to work with -- the Brewers donated a plastic bat and ball to every MPS child between kindergarten and second grade.
More than 20,000 sets were to be distributed to MPS schools, and each school also received a shipment of books.
Play Ball Weekend is an extension of the Play Ball initiative, which launched in 2015 as the sport's largest effort to encourage widespread participation in both formal and casual baseball and softball activities. The weekend's events are meant to be a symbolic recognition of what clubs do year-round to support the growth of youth baseball and softball in their communities.