Jennie Finch hosted Play Ball event on JRD

April 21st, 2021

Jennie Finch’s passion for baseball is second to none. Even after retiring as one of the best softball pitchers of all time, Finch is making sure she is involved in baseball in some capacity and she continued doing so last Thursday on Jackie Robinson Day.

In an ongoing effort to further build tangible connections between baseball and the Black community, Major League Baseball partnered with the Olympic gold medalist and hosted a “drive-thru” Play Ball event at the Christian Baptist Church in St. Lake Charles, La.

The socially distanced occasion was part of a community event series that MLB is hosting with black churches throughout the country, providing families and children with bat-and-ball sets that they can safely enjoy at home or in their neighborhoods at parks and playgrounds.

The smile on Finch’s face said it all. Some of the kids were able to enjoy the bat-and-ball sets almost immediately. They took batting practice and ran the bases.

“I couldn’t be more proud and thankful and just full of gratitude for Major League Baseball partnering with us to provide these kids with a bat and a ball,” Finch said. “… To be able to bring some joy and light and to see these young kids’ faces light up with a bat and ball means everything.

“I couldn’t be more thankful to Major League Baseball and the Baptist church in St. Charles for partnering up to give bats and balls to our community -- just making kids smile. Giving them some kind of joy and hope to look forward to.”

Previous drive-thru Play Ball events have been held in Charleston, S.C.; Columbia, Miss.; Camden, Ark.; Oklahoma City; Philadelphia; Richmond, Va.; New York City; Somerset, N.J.; and Washington, D.C.

For Finch, it was extra special to give away the bats and balls because the event fell on Jackie Robinson Day, a day when every player in Major League Baseball wears Robinson’s jersey No. 42 to honor Robinson breaking the color barrier in Major League Baseball in 1947.

“[Robinson] used sport to become a civil rights icon. He broke barrier after barrier. What an example he is for all of us to live up to,” Finch said. “So cheers to Jackie Robinson. Thank you for all that you have done and today your legacy still lives on. We couldn’t be more grateful to celebrate you … giving out bats and balls in your honor.”