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Play Ball event a hit with Mexican kids

D-backs, Rockies players share baseball with 150 participants
@JesseSanchezMLB
March 9, 2019

MONTERREY, Mexico -- D-backs third baseman Eduardo Escobar danced in left field on Saturday morning at Estadio de Beisbol Monterrey. In right field, Rockies catcher Tony Wolters showed off his best moves, too. In between them, hundreds of local children ran around and had a ball playing the game they

MONTERREY, Mexico -- D-backs third baseman Eduardo Escobar danced in left field on Saturday morning at Estadio de Beisbol Monterrey. In right field, Rockies catcher Tony Wolters showed off his best moves, too.

In between them, hundreds of local children ran around and had a ball playing the game they love.

The latest edition of Major League Baseball’s Play Ball activation, this time in conjunction with the U.S. Consulate General Office, featured 150 participants -- ages 5-13 -- from Cuidad de Ninos before the start of the two-game set between the Rockies and the D-backs in the first installation of this year’s Mexico Series

“Baseball is a great game and it’s important to show how fun this game is,” Wolters said. “Baseball is something I have played since I was a 4-year-old -- and I remember how fun it was when I was a kid growing up. This game is pretty special to a lot of us and showing it to these kids gives them an activity and gives them something to look forward to.”

Saturday’s event featured hitting and fielding drills, baserunning and agility workouts, but there was also a lot of dancing and laughter. All participants received a Play Ball T-shirt, bat-and-ball set, and special wristbands. They also walked away with memories that will last a lifetime.

“The most important thing for me is to see the beautiful smiles on the kids’ faces,” Escobar said. “I’m so happy to be here.”

Last year, Major League Baseball played host to its signature youth engagement activity in conjunction with the Mexico Series between the Indians and Twins in Monterrey. Play Ball events are also scheduled for the regular-season Mexico Series in April between the Cardinals and the Reds, along with the series between the Astros and the Angels in May -- both at Estadio de Beisbol Monterrey.

“I felt like I was a little kid, too,” D-backs outfielder David Peralta said. “I was playing and having fun with the kids. They just get so happy and it makes you happy, too. It’s definitely one of the most special moments in baseball for me, to come to another country and share the game with the kids of Monterrey.”

Also joining Escobar, Peralta and Wolters at the event were Rockies players J.D. Johnson, Justin Lawrence and Rockies legend Vinny Castilla of Mexico. Former D-backs players Luis Gonzalez and Erubiel Durazo -- both of whom now serve in advisory roles with the club -- along with Arizona CEO Derrick Hall were also in attendance. Additionally, Rodrigo Fernandez, Major League Baseball’s Managing Director, Latin America, and William Duncan, Consul General, Monterrey, were present.

“Baseball is progressing in Mexico and the MLB brand is growing,” Fernandez said. “We are realizing how many fans we have for many things. It’s really comforting for us that all of the efforts we are doing as a league are delivering. For this Spring Training series, we are going to have 20,000 people watch each of these games.”

Play Ball launched in June 2015. It has operated events in hundreds of cities across the country and has expanded to locations outside of the continental United States. Last year, there were Play Ball activations in Puerto Rico, Canada, Panama, a bi-national event with Juarez, Mexico, and El Paso, Texas. There are tentative plans for a Play Ball event in England during the London Series between the Red Sox and the Yankees next June.

“Bringing some of our players, our former players, the Rockies and the Diamondbacks, I wanted to be here to feel it and see it in action at the stadium,” Hall said. “It’s nice to see both clubs getting involved in the community, teaching these kids how to play baseball the Major League Baseball way.”

Jesse Sanchez, who has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2001, is a national reporter based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook.