SAN DIEGO -- Dozens of children of all ages took over the Jackie Robinson Family YMCA in San Diego on Saturday to, simply, play ball.Major League Baseball and the San Diego Padres held a special Play Ball event in collaboration with the 2018 Perfect Game All-American Classic, a showcase featuring
SAN DIEGO -- Dozens of children of all ages took over the Jackie Robinson Family YMCA in San Diego on Saturday to, simply, play ball.
Major League Baseball and the San Diego Padres held a special Play Ball event in collaboration with the 2018 Perfect Game All-American Classic, a showcase featuring the top high school baseball players in the country. The game, which will be held Sunday at Petco Park, will display 50 of the nation's best high school seniors. It is the 10th year the event has been held in San Diego.
Saturday, however, the focus was on the kids rather the upcoming game, as the Perfect Game teamed up with the Jackie Robinson YMCA for the first time.
"This whole organization is about giving back to the community," said Manny Hermosillo, who has been involved with the Perfect Game organization for eight years. "I think it's awesome to get the kids involved, the youth and just helping out the community. The kids love it. They see the older guys there, and [it's] awesome being able to hang out with them."
Participants were divided into stations for batting practice, baserunning, agility and fielding. The stations, which used both baseballs and softballs, were designed to promote the informal and fun ways the sport can be played. Many participants arrived at the stations clad in Padres gear, along with the free shirt supplied prior to registering for the event. Players on the All-American Classic roster helped run the stations, along with volunteers from MLB, the Padres and the YMCA. Registration was free, and all participants at the Play Ball event received a ticket to the All-American Classic.
"This event is a win-win, all the way around," said Brad Clement, CEO of Perfect Game. "We have great communication with various departments at MLB about different things we can do to help grow the game.
"Just getting out, being active and playing ball is a lifelong memory. Plus, it's really what helps us build and create baseball fans for the next generation."
Sunday's festivities are scheduled to take place after the Padres' game vs. the Phillies (12:40 p.m. PT), approximately set for 5:15 p.m. The 50 players will square off in a nine-inning, East Coast vs. West Coast showdown. Tickets are $5 and all proceeds will benefit Rady Children's Hospital.
Since the event was founded in 2003, 187 participants have gone on to become first-round picks in the MLB Draft. Austin Hedges, Eric Hosmer and Robert Stock are current Padres who have participated in the event.
Katie Woo covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @katiejwoo.