NEW YORK, June 22, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball and the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) announced that more than 300 Mayors from all 50 United States and Puerto Rico will host youth-focused, baseball & softball events in their communities through August 2018 as part of the PLAY BALL SUMMER joint effort. This will be the first time in the history of the initiative that mayors from all 50 states have pledged their support. Mayors from within all MLB club markets are also committed to the initiative. Additional mayors/cities are expected to join PLAY BALL SUMMER in the coming weeks. In 2017, more than 250 Mayors hosted over 35,000 kids in PLAY BALL events in their communities.
A full list of participating cities and mayors (as of June 22, 2018) can be found here: http://legacy.usmayors.org/playball/pledgemonitor.asp
Since 2015, PLAY BALL SUMMER has encouraged mayors across the United States and Puerto Rico to organize community-based events that engage citizens, families, and city departments to participate in fun-focused baseball & softball activities in connection to the "PLAY BALL" initiative, which is led by MLB, USA Baseball & USA Softball (www.PlayBall.org). For the first time in the effort's history, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the official charity of Major League Baseball, will support PLAY BALL SUMMER by seeking opportunities for their nearly 1,400 organizations, representing 4,300 local Clubs and more than 4 million youth, to participate in PLAY BALL SUMMER. In some cases, local Boys & Girls Clubs will collaborate or co-host events with mayors.
Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr. said: "The partnership with the U.S. Conference of Mayors is a significant factor for the success of our PLAY BALL initiative. The central focus of our effort has always been to engage communities that love our game with opportunities for young people to participate in baseball and softball activities. By reaching all 50 states and Puerto Rico, PLAY BALL has truly become a national movement. We thank all the Mayors for their extraordinary commitment."
In a similar fashion, nearly 200 Clubs in both Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball are participating in the "PLAY BALL WEEKEND" effort, which provides professional baseball Clubs with a platform to engage youth and celebrate baseball & softball participation in communities throughout the country and in Canada. MLB and MiLB Clubs have selected dates this season to activate their efforts in their respective ballparks and communities, with 15 of 30 MLB Clubs activating during the month of June. In support of PLAY BALL WEEKEND, MLB Clubs will host customized and unique activities to engage young people, highlight the fun of youth baseball and softball, and bring the professional levels of the game closer to kids.
Launched in 2015, the PLAY BALL initiative is baseball's collective effort to encourage young people and communities to engage 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, especially on key dates throughout MLB's Championship Season and through the Postseason & World Series. PLAY BALL events demonstrate the positive way the game can serve as an outlet for physical activity, fun with friends and learning how to play the sport at its most basic levels. PLAY BALL also serves as the League's youth umbrella in which all associated programs and events derive from the initiative's consistent, simple message: "However You Play Ball, PLAY BALL!" PlayBall.org is the PLAY BALL initiative's online home and is accessible via MLB.com, USABaseball.com, USASoftball.com and other partner websites. PlayBall.org also links to USABaseball.com, which provides players, parents and coaches with the information and resources to help with proper play and instruction, including education videos featuring Hall of Famer and MLB Network analyst John Smoltz, Chicago Cubs Manager Joe Maddon, and Kansas City Royals Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Dayton Moore, among others. Health and safety information, including through the Pitch Smart program, also is available. PLAY BALL is generously supported by Scotts, Chevrolet, Nathan's Famous and Kingsford.
For the second consecutive year, baseball and softball combined to rank as the most participated team sports in the United States in 2017 (25.1 million participants), according to the annual Topline Participation Report produced by the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA). In 2017, casual participation in baseball rose by 12.9% with overall participation seeing a 6.0% increase, the latter of which is the largest increase of all major team sports. Over the last three years, baseball has seen a 49.1% growth in casual participation, which is in direct correlation to the launch of the PLAY BALL initiative.
SOURCE U.S. Conference of Mayors