Press release Major League Baseball
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Major League Baseball is the Official Presenting Sponsor of the training tour of the Women’s National Softball Team representing the United States in the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games, it was announced today at the U.S. Conference of Mayors Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C.
The “Stand Beside Her” tour (StandBesideHerTour.com) will span more than 35 U.S. Cities from February through June and feature training & exhibition appearances by members of the team. In select cities, MLB will work in conjunction with USA Softball, the national governing body of the sport, to host “PLAY BALL” events, MLB’s signature youth engagement activity of which USA Softball is a flagship partner. Throughout the tour, the iconic MLB silhouetted batter will be featured on Team USA’s uniform tops and on various signage promoting the appearances.
The Jackie Robinson Training Complex (JRTC) in Vero Beach, Fla., the former spring training site of the Los Angeles/Brooklyn Dodgers that now serves a hub operated by MLB for a wide array of youth & amateur baseball/softball programming, will be the Official Training Facility all USA Softball National Team, including the Women’s National Team.
Promotional support for the Tour will include exposure on MLB Network, including the “Play Ball” show on Saturday mornings, presence on MLB sites (MLB.com & PlayBall.org) and various MLB social media platforms, joint email notices from MLB’s global audience, and more.
“Major League Baseball is proud to support the Women’s National Softball team and these world-class athletes on their journey to becoming Olympians,” said Tony Reagins, Executive Vice President of Baseball Development, Major League Baseball. “The players on Team USA share our commitment to growing softball, and we look forward to joining them as they inspire young women to play the sport. Representing your country on any international platform is an honor, but doing so on the Olympic stage is the pinnacle. We are thrilled to be along for their incredible ride.”
“USA Softball is extremely grateful for the support of Major League Baseball,” said USA Softball Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Craig Cress. “We’ve had a strong relationship with MLB since 2015 when we joined the ‘PLAY BALL’ initiative, and their commitment shown not only to our Women’s National Team athletes, but also for grassroots development, is simply unmatched. The partnership and support of MLB provides members of the 2020 Women’s National Team with access to support staff and resources they need to stand atop the podium and bring the Gold back to the United States.”
The schedule for the “Stand Beside Her” Tour (subject to change):
· 2/4: vs USF – Tampa, FL
· 2/7-9: NFCA Division I Leadoff Classic – Clearwater, FL
· 2/11: vs Florida – Gainesville, FL
· 2/12 & 2/16, 2020: St. Pete Clearwater Elite Invitational – Clearwater, FL
· 2/18: vs Arizona – Tucson, AZ
· 2/20-23: Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic – Cathedral City, CA
· 3/8: vs Cal State San Marcos and UC San Diego – Irvine, CA
· 3/10: vs CSUN and San Diego State – San Diego, CA
· 3/12: vs Washington – Seattle, WA
· 3/17: vs Portland State and Oregon State – Hillsboro, OR
· 3/18: vs Southern Oregon and Oregon – Eugene, OR
· 3/31: vs Alabama – Tuscaloosa, AL
· 4/1: vs Auburn – Auburn, AL
· 4/3: South Commons Softball Complex – Columbus, GA
· 4/5: Twin Creeks Softball Complex – Woodstock, GA
· 4/7: Jim Frost Stadium at Warner Park – Chattanooga, TN
· 4/8: vs Tennessee – Knoxville, TN
· 4/15: vs LA Tech and Louisiana-Monroe – Shreveport, LA
· 4/18: Constellation Field – Sugar Land, TX
· 4/21-23: vs Oklahoma Christian, North Texas, Abilene Christian and Texas Woman’s University – Dallas, TX
· 4/25: vs Lubbock Christian – Midland, TX
· 5/1: Kansas City Royals MLB Urban Youth Academy – Kansas City, MO
· 5/3: CarShield Field – St. Louis, MO
· 5/17: Sutter Health Park – Sacramento, CA
· 5/30: TVA Credit Union Ballpark – Johnson City, TN
· 6/3: Killian Softball Stadium – Springfield, MO
· 6/7: Brookside Park – Ashland, OH
· 6/9: Dow Diamond – Midland, MI
· 6/10: Secchia Stadium – East Lansing, MI
· 6/18: Martin Field – Lowell, MA
· 6/19: vs Stratford Brakettes – Stratford, CT
· 6/21: Wall Township Municipal Complex – Wall Township, NJ
· 6/23: Cal Seniors Park – The Ripken Experience – Aberdeen, MD
· 6/25: vs Salem All-Stars – Salem, VA
This partnership is a continuation of MLB’s support of USA Softball as a governing body and also its commitment to growing the sport at both the grassroots and amateur levels. Since 2015, MLB and USA Softball have partnered together with USA Baseball to launch the “PLAY BALL” initiative (PlayBall.org), the largest collective effort to inspire and encourage participation in both casual and formal varieties of baseball and softball. MLB and USA Softball have jointly hosted a number of PLAY BALL events over the years, notably each year in Oklahoma City – the site of USA Softball headquarters and the home of the NCAA Women’s College World Series. For three consecutive years, corresponding with the years following the launch of PLAY BALL, baseball and softball combined to rank as the most participated team sports in the United States, with 25.6 million participants in 2018 according to the annual Topline Participation Report produced by the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA). Baseball and softball also combine to have the most amount of youth participants (ages 6 to 12), according to the most recent Aspen Institute “State of Play” Trending and Development Report.
Since 1993, MLB has administered the softball division of the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) Program, which has been annually highlighted through the RBI World Series. Dozens of RBI Softball alumni have been awarded college scholarships through the “RBI for RBI” Scholarship Program. Additionally, all MLB Youth Academies throughout the U.S. support both introductory and competitive softball programs. These Academies are celebrated each year during MLB All-Star Week with the All-Star Jennie Finch Classic Presented by ARM & HAMMER, a competitive tournament to give members of these softball programs the chance to face each other and experience the Midsummer Classic.
In recent years, MLB hired Team USA Olympians and softball legends Jennie Finch and Natasha Watley as youth softball ambassadors to help grow the sport. With their help, MLB has launched and grown amateur softball development programs, notably the Softball Breakthrough Series and Softball Elite Development Invitational, to give female athletes the opportunity to learn from some of the best softball players in the world, including members of the 2020 Team USA Olympic team. In 2019, MLB sponsor Church & Dwight Co., Inc., launched the Jennie Finch Empowerment Award presented by ARM & HAMMER, and honored four young women who participated in various MLB softball initiatives.