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San Francisco hosts Play Ball Collaborative event

SAN FRANCISCO -- A few raindrops weren't going to stop hundreds of children from enjoying a day of baseball, softball and other games on a cloudy day.

Pickup games, pitching and hitting stations and other assorted contests at Palega Recreation Center all comprised the Play Ball Collaborative, part of Major League Baseball's Play Ball initiative, which is dedicated to showcasing the playful nature of the game.

San Francisco was one of many cities across the country that joined the collaborative as a way to increase participation in both baseball and softball and to provide avenues for participants of all skill levels.

Former Giants outfielder Randy Wynn was on hand to share his insights with kids and adults alike, as participants were spread across two playing fields and a soccer field.

Portions of the Palega Recreation Center gymnasium were dedicated to an interactive speed gun booth, where kids earned a prize if they correctly guessed their pitch speed. Plenty of adults were also caught up in the excitement.

A disc jockey serenaded the throng throughout the day and fans were able to pose with the Giants' three World Series trophies.

The individual hitting and pitching stations were popular because of tips and hints provided to the future sluggers and hurlers. Kids helped other kids in a positive environment, something the Play Ball Collaborative emphasizes.

It was only fitting that the festival was held within sight of Candlestick Point, the former home of the Giants. The Palega Recreation Center is also a few miles from AT&T Park, where Wynn played ball.

The San Francisco Play Ball Collaborative was officially announced earlier in the week, and Sunday's Festival served as its official kickoff.

The Giants announced the program in partnership with the Mayor's Office, the Department of Recreation and Parks, the Giants Community Fund, the San Francisco Little League, the San Francisco Youth Baseball League, the San Francisco Parish and School Baseball League, and the Good Tidings Foundation.

Several of the leagues and programs were on hand to discuss the availability of baseball and softball in the city for anyone at any skill level wishing to get involved.

The collaborative is working to achieve sustainable goals, such as providing quality youth baseball and softball programs and facilities in San Francisco, providing access to children and families from throughout the city regardless of their ability to pay, serving as champions of youth baseball and softball programs and facilities, growing youth baseball and softball participation and coordinating efforts between leagues to ensure that any child who wants to play can access a youth baseball or softball program.

For more information, visit the San Francisco Play Ball Collaborative online.

Rick Eymer is a contributor to
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