Major League Baseball and USA Baseball today announced that “Fun At Bat” (www.funatbat.org), the bat-and-ball program designed for use in elementary school physical education (P.E.) classes throughout the United States, will now be available to all elementary school students in Puerto Rico. The program, which is currently reaching more than one million children in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., will be administered by the Puerto Rico Department of Education to serve nearly 90,000 young students throughout the island. Long time MLB and USA Baseball partner, Franklin Sports, has created custom Fun At Bat Baseball equipment to help activate this program since its inception in 2016. Baseball Hall of Famer and MLB special consultant in Puerto Rico Roberto Alomar as well as the Puerto Rico Baseball Federation are supporting the initiative.
A joint MLB and USA Baseball youth program, Fun At Bat promotes fun and active lifestyles for children, while also teaching the fundamental skills of bat-and-ball sports. The program, available in English and Spanish, also includes a literacy component focusing on character development and teaching traits such as leadership, teamwork and fair play. Fun At Bat is part of the PLAY BALL initiative (www.PlayBall.org) – the sport's largest collective effort to encourage young people to participate in baseball- or softball-related activities, including formal and casual forms of play. Since its launch in 2015, the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) has reported a 52.8 percent increase in casual baseball participation.
“Puerto Rico has proven to be one of our sport’s greatest sources of talent and passion over the years, and now we are excited to bolster both the expansion of this grassroots ‘Fun At Bat’ initiative to the Island,” said Tony Reagins, Executive Vice President of Baseball & Softball Development, Major League Baseball. “One of our main goals here at Major League Baseball is to make baseball and softball as accessible as possible. We are confident that the presence of this energetic and introductory program will further ensure that youth from Puerto Rico will have direct and regular opportunities to play the game.”
“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to deliver this program to students across Puerto Rico,” said Rick Riccobono, USA Baseball’s Chief Development Officer. “Fun At Bat is the fastest growing bat-and-ball program in the world. With its comprehensive curriculum and fun-first approach, it is the ideal way to be introducing kids and new participants to our great game.”
Julia Keleher, the Secretary of the Puerto Rico Department of Education said: “We thank USA Baseball and MLB for this partnership with the Department on an initiative that seeks to expose our children to sports through Fun At Bat. You can count on our commitment and collaboration, including the support of our excellent physical education teachers, to ensure this is a stimulating and enriching experience for our children. We are very pleased with the support USA Baseball and MLB has shown the Department and we know that we will continue to partner together on projects for the benefit of Puerto Rico’s students”.
Alomar said: “I’m proud to partner with Major League Baseball, USA Baseball, and the Department of Education in bringing the Fun At Bat program to the students of Puerto Rico. It’s an exciting initiative that will help grow the game of baseball by making it more accessible to the youth on the island.”
The expansion of Fun At Bat to Puerto Rico is just one of MLB’s latest efforts to provide baseball-centered education tools to young students across the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Some of the educational initiatives and programs operated, in part, by MLB include: (a)“Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life,” which is co-administered with daughter of Jackie Robinson and MLB Educational Consultant Sharon Robinson and Scholastic, a bilingual program highlighted by an essay contest encouraging students to describe personal barriers they have overcome through the example of Jackie Robinson; (b) the partnership with Discovery Education to add dynamic new baseball-themed content to Science Techbooks with the goal of fueling deeper student engagement in science and STEM; and (c) the free baseball-themed education course the “Summer Slugger” aimed at preventing students from losing math and literacy skills during the summer break from school, a result of MLB’s and Everfi’s joint efforts.
Additionally, MLB has teamed up with ESPN on “Shred Hate,” a multi-faceted bullying prevention program that seeks to eliminate bullying by encouraging kids to choose kindness. As part of the program, No Bully, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that trains and gives schools the tools to activate student compassion as a method for eradicating bullying and cyberbullying, provides innovative, bullying prevention curriculum, and works directly with local school districts and cooperating schools. Shred Hate was launched with the X Games in 2017, and schools that have gone through the curriculum last year were able to reduce instances of bullying by 94%.