Play Ball brings game home for Finch, Daigle

September 15th, 2019

VINTON, La. – Under a steamy Louisiana sun, two-time Olympian Jennie Finch and her husband, former Major League pitcher Casey Daigle, ran kids through the fundamentals of the sport they love with hopes of inspiring a new generation of ball players.

Daigle’s own hometown of Vinton, La., hosted MLB’s Play Ball event on Saturday, just a few miles down the country road where the player himself learned America’s pastime as a Little Leaguer.

“This is where I grew up,” Daigle said. “This is the fan base I started with, and whenever I got to the big leagues I didn’t forget where I came from. To have Major League Baseball and the Play Ball organization come here is kind of a dream come true.”

Vinton isn’t just where Daigle grew up – it’s also where he and Finch have decided to put down roots and raise their family. For Finch, seeing the smiles on the faces of the hundred or so kids attending the event was “super special.”

“It’s so much fun to be right here,” she said. “This is our backyard; this is the community that we live in, and it’s so special to be able to provide this to the kids of this community and just get them outside playing ball. Despite the heat, they’re having fun playing ball, and that’s what it’s all about.”

While their parents looked on from the grandstand, kids of all ages participated in various drills, from agility to catching, throwing to base running, and they even got in some batting practice.

Paul Simien, also a Vinton native, expressed gratitude toward Daigle and Finch for helping to bring Play Ball to town as he sat watching his two children participate.

“There isn’t much for kids to do in this little community,” Simien said. “I love what they’re doing.”

And their kids loved it, too. Despite being asked to run their fastest and throw their hardest under a cloudless sky in the 97 degree Louisiana heat, when asked how they felt afterward, most answered with some variation of the word “awesome.”

MLB’s Play Ball initiative travels all over the United States to bring events to children of all ages. The goal is to engage citizens, families and city departments to participate and connect them to baseball and softball.

Since 2015, Major League Baseball and its many partners in the Play Ball initiative, particularly Minor League Baseball, have hosted hundreds of Play Ball-focused events throughout the United States, United Kingdom, Puerto Rico, Canada, Mexico, Brazil and Panama.

A busy Play Ball weekend continues on Sunday, when the festivities move to Rockford, Ill., former home of the Rockford Peaches of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.