CLEVELAND, OH – The Cleveland Indians today announced the establishment of “PlayBall! CLE” presented by Ohio 529 – an initiative of Cleveland Indians Charities that will provide financial support to underserved baseball and softball organizations throughout Greater Cleveland.
As an organization, the goal of PlayBall! CLE is to improve the quality of the youth baseball and softball experience, provide access and opportunity for youth, and ensure leagues/organizations are applying consistent best practices.
“We are really excited to rethink our youth baseball and softball involvement in Northeast Ohio,” Cleveland Indians Vice President of Communications and Community Impact, Curtis Danburg said. “With this new initiative, we will be able to serve more leagues, more than doubling the number of kids we are supporting, while providing educational and financial resources to grow our game among Greater Cleveland youth.”
In order to receive support through the Cleveland Indians Charities, leagues/organizations must first fill out a grant application where they must be able to meet the following criteria:
- Accessibility (access to all kids and abilities, financial assistance, etc.)
- Coach/volunteer development
- Registration platform
- Safety (background checks, pitch count guidelines, concussion training, etc.)
Eight leagues have been selected as PlayBall! CLE approved leagues for the pilot year of the program in 2021: Tri-League Little League, B Buzz Baseball League, Near West Recreation, West Denison Baseball Leagues, Inc., Empower Sports, Achievement Centers for Children, Miracle League of Northeast Ohio and the Baseball Heritage Museum’s Buckeyes Baseball Club.
Empower Sports (Adaptive Softball Program), Achievement Centers for Children (Adaptive Baseball Program) and Miracle League of Northeast Ohio are all organizations that offer adaptive baseball and softball leagues for people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities. Tribe starter LHP LOGAN ALLEN will be involved with the Miracle League of Northeast Ohio via his t-shirt initiative “What Handicap?”.
“Having the BHM Buckeyes Baseball Club be part of the inaugural year of the PlayBall! CLE program is another step in creating a meaningful partnership between the Baseball Heritage Museum and the Cleveland Indians organization,” Director of Baseball Activities, Baseball Heritage Museum/BHM Buckeyes Baseball Club, Jay Murphy said. “Our goals are the same, creating ways to engage young people to play the great game of baseball. Being part of the program will provide a valuable resource for both parties in continuing efforts to encourage children of Northeast Ohio to be involved with this game.”
Additional support will be granted to leagues/organizations based on how many enhanced criteria items they are operating. Funds granted to leagues and organizations are intended to go towards uniforms, equipment, trophies, administrative support, field/umpire fees and league fees.
PlayBall! CLE approved leagues may also be eligible for additional benefits, including the use of Indians logos on league website, marketing materials and uniforms, recognition on the Indians website and social media platforms, exclusive access to PlayBall! CLE events during the summer, preferred pricing and discounts on equipment and uniforms, access to coaches/parent training seminars through Positive Coaching Alliance and access to a PlayBall! CLE Day at Progressive Field.
“Near West Recreation is excited to be one of the first PlayBall! CLE recreation leagues! Being part of PlayBall! CLE will give us some new opportunities to not only increase the number of kids playing baseball and softball, but also improve the quality of play in our leagues with improved coach’s trainings, better equipment and other family-friendly baseball activities.”
Applying to become a Play Ball! CLE approved league is free, and the application for the 2022 program will be available in fall 2021.