BOSTON -- The chance to step onto the playing field at Fenway Park with a ball and bat is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, rain or shine.That was the mindset of the 23 kids who were a part of the Red Sox Championship round of Major League Baseball's Pitch Hit & Run
BOSTON -- The chance to step onto the playing field at Fenway Park with a ball and bat is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, rain or shine.
That was the mindset of the 23 kids who were a part of the Red Sox Championship round of Major League Baseball's Pitch Hit & Run event on Saturday morning.
The event, which is one of the 30 team championships taking place throughout June, saw kids from ages 7-14 from all over the Northeast region compete for a chance to advance to the National Finals during the weekend of the MLB All-Star Game presented by MasterCard.
The festivities started with the hitting competition, where the boys and girls had three opportunities to drive a ball off of a tee and make their Fenway dreams a reality. A few players channeled their inner-David Ortiz, crushing their ball past the infield diamond into shallow center field, which at this event is as good as a home run over the Green Monster.
For 8-year-old Samantha Barton, who finished in first place in the 7/8 Softball Division, this was the most challenging, yet rewarding, part of the day.
"My favorite part was hitting," Samantha said. "It was hard hitting the softball and getting under it and hitting it high into the outfield."
Samantha's father, Jeff, sat back in the stands to watch his daughter, but reminisced about being in her shoes decades prior.
"Back in 1977, I was in Pitch, Hit & Run," Jeff said. "I was 10 and went to Fenway and then Yankee Stadium for the finals. So to see my little girl out there is pretty special."
It was an experience that stayed with him until this day, and one he knows his daughter will never forget.
"One, you get to go to Fenway Park, which is the best ballpark in the country," Jeff said. "I think it's also great for the kids. It's a wonderful experience -- they get to see the Green Monster and you can just see the smile on their faces."
Rain was in the forecast, and it eventually impacted the event during the running competition. Originally, the goal was for the kids to run from second base to home plate as fast as possible, but the downpour changed the route, forcing them to go from the Green Monster wall to the opposing team's dugout.
The continued precipitation forced the entire pitching portion to be held within the Fenway Park concourse, but spirits were still high.
"It's still Fenway Park," said Jack Koem, father of Audrey, 11. "Whether you're inside or outside, it's a great place to be. It could rain all day and the kids would still have fun."
After the three events concluded, the winner for each age group was announced, earning the victors a potential spot in the National Finals and the opportunity to be presented on the field before the Red Sox-Angels game on Saturday night.
The scores of the winners from the Red Sox Championship round will be compared to those of the other 29 teams, and the official participants for the National Finals will be announced on the MLB Network on June 26.
Pitch, Hit & Run, the "Official Youth Skills Competition of Major League Baseball," invites kids to demonstrate their pitching, hitting and running abilities in baseball and softball. The competition coincides with the Play Ball initiative between Major League Baseball, USA Baseball and USA Softball, which encourages widespread participation in all forms of baseball/softball activities among all age groups, especially youth.
Evan Chronis is a reporter for MLB.com based in Boston.