MLB PLAY BALL Park, during MLB All-Star Week Miami (July 6-11), featured a variety of youth baseball and softball programming at Bayfront Park in Downtown Miami.
Activities highlighted informal ways to play ball games — baseball, dodgeball, kickball, softball, stickball, wiffleball.
On Monday, July 10, Major Leaguers (past and present) and former Team USA softball standouts joined in the fun with the kids on the nice make-shift ball field.
All the bats used plastic, and the balls plastic or rubber/foam type.
Craig Kimbrel (Boston Red Sox) and Francisco Lindor (Cleveland Indians) participated during the noon session. They played ball games with kids and then posed for a group photo with kids and volunteers.
After posing for a group photo, MLB Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar did a very good job teaching kids how to bat at the 2:30 p.m. session. He taught so well that Attilo Zavaglia of Larchmont, N.Y. took him deep over the fence for a mammoth home run. Alomar lightly thew a rubber/foam ball at him as he rounded the bases. All in good fun. Actually, Zavaglia competes for the (New York) Team Pride Select travel baseball team.
Roberto Clemente Jr. made a surprise afternoon visit. He is a baseball broadcaster and former professional baseball player from San Juan, Puerto Rico. His father, the late, great, Roberto Clemente, was the first Latin American player to compile 3,000 hits in Major League Baseball history. His mother, Vera Clemente, is a celebrity as well, having for many years hosted a telethon in Puerto Rico to raise funds for the Ciudad Roberto Clemente, a sporting complex in Carolina, Puerto Rico.
USA Softball took charge during the 4:30 p.m. session. Softball pitching great Lisa Fernandez, a three-time Olympic gold medalist (1996, 2000, 2004) for Team USA; softball pitching standout Jennie Finch, a 2004 Olympic gold medalist and 2008 Olympic silver medalist for Team USA; Destine Martinez, another former Team USA softball star; former Team USA standout Jaclyn Traina; and former National Pro Fastpitch player Molly Fichtner coached, played the field and pitched in kickball, baseball and softball.
Also kids enjoyed a Nathan’s Famous Mobile Tour with a batting cage, pitch zone, basketball hot shot, giant slide, skee-ball, free Nathan’s hot dog samples and more.
Participants received a MLB PLAY BALL T-shirt, a Miami Marlins hat, a wiffleball/bat set, water and some great memories.
The goals to play informal ball games outdoors with friends and to have fun were instilled.
Some of the groups represented at MLB PLAY BALL Park on Monday, July 10 were Abington (Pennsylvania) Little League, Cooper City Optimist 6U baseball all stars, Miami Marlins RBI-Hallandale Beach softball, Miami Stingrays travel softball, Overtown Tornadoes, Palmetto Bay rec softball, (New York) Team Pride Select travel baseball.
Music chimed throughout the informal games. The emcees were Michael King from Atlanta and DJ David C of New York.
USA Baseball and USA Softball played major roles in the MLB Play Ball Park experience.
While most programming throughout each day was pre-scheduled, there were plenty of opportunities for ‘Free Play,’ open to the general public.
The open areas for FREE PLAY included:
· Chevy PLAY BALL Diamond
· Scotts Batting Cage
· Stickball Alley
· Nathan’s Famous Mobile Tour
· MLB Network & Miami Marlins Pitching Inflatables
– Youth Sports On The Web
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