Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball and the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) today announced that a record of more than 250 Mayors in the United States and Puerto Rico will be hosting "PLAY BALL"-themed, youth-focused events in their communities through August 2017. In addition to 16 cities in
Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball and the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) today announced that a record of more than 250 Mayors in the United States and Puerto Rico will be hosting "PLAY BALL"-themed, youth-focused events in their communities through August 2017. In addition to 16 cities in Puerto Rico, Mayors in 43 U.S. States and Washington D.C. have committed to this "PLAY BALL SUMMER" effort. Additional mayors/cities are expected to join the effort in the coming weeks. In 2016, more than 200 Mayors hosted over 22,000 kids in PLAY BALL events in their communities.
A full list of participating cities and mayors (as of June 30, 2017) accompanies this release.
PLAY BALL SUMMER is encouraging mayors across the United States and in Puerto Rico to organize individual and community-based events that will engage citizens, families, and city departments to participate. These events will be focused on connecting families and communities, especially underserved areas, to baseball and softball through fun-focused activities (such as playing catch, "running bases," bat & ball games, family gatherings, etc.).
In 2015, Major League Baseball launched the "PLAY BALL" initiative as the sport's largest collective effort to encourage young people to participate in baseball- or softball-related activities, including formal leagues, special events and casual forms of play. PLAY BALL events have become MLB's signature youth engagement activity during the professional and amateur baseball and softball calendar, particularly in connection with key dates from Spring Training, through the MLB Championship Season and into the Postseason and World Series. PLAY BALL aims to highlight the fun and community-focused natures of the game at the Major League, professional, amateur and youth levels. In addition to flagship partnerships with USA Baseball and USA Softball, PLAY BALL is also supported by all 30 MLB Clubs, Minor League Baseball, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and MLB Corporate Partners Chevrolet, Scotts and Nathan's Famous. In 2016, MLB Network launched Play Ball, a weekly player interview and demonstration show geared toward kids. In the program, MLB stars, including Bryce Harper, Dexter Fowler, Francisco Lindor and Anthony Rizzo, have discussed their experiences reaching the Major Leagues and shared tips in one-on-one demonstrations and conversations with MLB Network analysts. Currently in its second season, Play Ball is available on multiple platforms, including MLB Network, MLB At Bat, MLB.com and Facebook.
On May 18, MLB announced that baseball and softball combined to rank as the most participated team sports in the United States in 2016 (25 million participants), according to the annual Topline Participation Report produced by the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA). Overall baseball participation increased by 7.7 percent and slow-pitch softball participation increased by 8.1 percent in 2016, with casual participation in both baseball and slow-pitch softball showing the highest growth. In 2016, casual participation in baseball rose by 18.1 percent and slow-pitch softball increased by 12.4 percent. Casual participation in baseball and slow-pitch softball is up 34 percent over the last five years. When combined, baseball and softball (fast- and slow-pitch) have more casual participants than any other sport (10.25 million total casual participants).