ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays are launching an initiative with Little League Baseball that will support nearly 70 leagues from eight surrounding districts. The program will reach Little League T-ball teams in Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk and Sarasota counties.
To support these programs, the Rays will provide jerseys and caps to more than 5,500 T-ball players and coaches in the region. The uniforms will include 18 variations of Rays colors and styles to give the region's young Little Leaguers a big league look. The jerseys are created by Majestic, the official uniform supplier of Major League Baseball.
The total savings from the project, as reported by the participating leagues, is estimated at more than $115,000. As a result of these savings, officials from some of the participating leagues have noted that they now have the ability to repair their scoreboards, provide paint upgrades to dugouts, add fencing for fields, fund new equipment purchases and grounds crew supplies, and repair concession stands and other facilities.
As part of the overall program, the Rays will work directly with the participating local Little Leagues to coordinate instructional clinics for their players and coaches. To begin the program, several districts from within Hillsborough and Pinellas counties have been invited to a two-day clinic on Saturday and Sunday that will feature Rays coaches and players at various times throughout the day.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com.