Major League Baseball on Thursday announced that RCX Sports (www.rcxsports.com) has been selected as the official operator of MLB’s youth baseball and softball skills competitions -- Jr. Home Run Derby and Pitch, Hit & Run. The premier youth-sports experiences business will handle all logistics -- including registration, promotion and event execution – for local competitions, regional championships and the national finals that culminate at the MLB All-Star Game and World Series, respectively.
“We are very excited to work with RCX Sports as we launch this year’s Jr. Home Run Derby and Pitch, Hit & Run competitions throughout the country and in Canada,” said Tony Reagins, Chief Baseball Development Officer, Major League Baseball. “Their reputation across youth sports aligns well with our goals to bring our premier youth baseball and softball skills competitions to children everywhere. We look forward to seeing their fun and innovative ideas put into action.”
“RCX Sports is committed to creating best-in-class experiences for all youth athletes, regardless of race, gender or socioeconomic background,” said RCX Sports CEO Izell Reese. “We are proud to add MLB to our list of world-class partners and look forward to supporting its youth baseball and softball events.”
Host registration for the sixth annual Jr. Home Run Derby local competitions are now open across the United States and Canada, including for the first-ever softball division. The program will be led by RCX VP of Events and three-time softball All-American Garland Cooper. Cooper led the Northwestern Wildcats to two-straight Women's College World Series appearances and a Big Ten championship and went on to play professionally in the National Professional Fastpitch League and overseas in the Japanese Softball League.
In 2021, more than 800 baseball competitions across the U.S. were held. Jr. Home Run Derby Baseball is broken down into two divisions, ages 11-12 and 13-14. The Softball divisions will be 16-under and 14-under. A total of 32 finalists (eight per division) will be invited to compete in the Finals during MLB All-Star Week in Los Angeles, at which they will participate in or attend a variety of special activities including PLAY BALL Park, the MLB Draft and the T-Mobile Home Run Derby. To register to host a local competition, please visit MLB.com/junior-home-run-derby.
The annual Pitch, Hit & Run competition includes baseball and softball participants from four age divisions (7-8, 9-10, 11-12 and 13-14), in which participants are tested for accuracy (pitching), distance (hitting) and speed (running). In 2021, youth participated in more than 1,700 competitions in either the baseball or softball sectors of each age division, after which 24 MLB ballparks hosted team championships from late July through September. In 2022, MLB will invite finalists from these divisions to compete during an off-day amid the 2022 World Series. All finalists will attend Game Four of the Fall Classic. Many Major League players – including Andrew McCutchen, Rhys Hoskins, Eric Hosmer, Matt Wisler, Joey Gallo and J.P. Crawford – are all Pitch, Hit & Run alumni. First overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft Adley Rutschman (Baltimore Orioles) is also an alum of the program, having competed in 2006.
Both competitions are part of the PLAY BALL initiative, which is baseball’s global effort to encourage young people and communities to engage in baseball- or softball-related activities, including formal leagues, special events and casual forms of play.