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Baseball Hall of Famer Dave Winfield to Attend Little League Urban Initiative Jamboree in Williamsport

Dave Winfield was drafted by four professional sports teams out of the University of Minnesota. Electing to sign with the San Diego Padres, Mr. Winfield did not spend anytime in the minor leagues, and began his Hall-of-Fame career with the Padres in 1973.

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (May 24, 2005) – Dave Winfield, a 2001 inductee of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y., will visit Little League International in Williamsport, Pa., to take part in the second annual Little League Urban Initiative Jamboree over Memorial Day Weekend, May 27-30.

Mr. Winfield will attend the Jamboree’s opening ceremony on Friday night and address the participants, parents, and fans beginning at 7:30 p.m. in Howard J. Lamade Stadium, site of the annual Little League Baseball World Series. There is no admission charged for any of the Jamboree events.

“It’s a great thing to watch kids play and participate,” Mr. Winfield, vice president and senior advisor of the San Diego Padres, said. “I was pleased to learn that a worldwide organization like Little League is doing something about getting children of color to play baseball. I am pleased to get the opportunity to come to Williamsport, and I’m looking forward to being a part of the Urban Initiative Jamboree.”

A native of St. Paul, Minn., Mr. Winfield attended the University of Minnesota, where he was most valuable player of the 1973 College World Series. Also that year he was drafted by four professional sports teams before signing with the Padres. Mr. Winfield made his major league debut with the Padres in 1973, and embarked on a 22-year playing career that included stops with the New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays (where he won his only World Championship in 1992), California Angels, Minnesota Twins, and Cleveland Indians.

“Little League is a wonderful organization,” Mr. Winfield said. “When I talk to the players, coaches, and parents at the Jamboree I feel they will identify with me, and related to me as a ballplayer, as a parent, and as a teacher – We will have a good time.”

Mr. Winfield amassed a career batting average of .283, hit 465 home runs, collected 3,110 hits, drove in 1,833 runs, was a seven-time Gold Glove winner, and 12-time all-star. He appeared in two World Series.

“Little League appreciates the support Mr. Winfield has given the Urban Initiative Jamboree,” David James, director of the Little League Urban Initiative, said. “In our time working together, Mr. Winfield, the Padres, and Major League Baseball have shown a sincere commitment to growing the Little League program in communities that have historically been under-represented.”

Also attending this year’s Urban Initiative Jamboree will be several executives from Major League Baseball, including Tom Brasuell, vice president of community affairs in the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball.

Elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y., in 2001, Dave Winfield established himself as a perennial all-star during his time with the New York Yankees (1981-88, 90). Standing six-feet, six-inches, he was an imposing figure, who combined power and consistency. Playing for six major league teams, Mr. Winfield batted .283, hit 465 home runs, and amassed 3,110 hits. He was a seven-time Gold Glove winner and helped lead the Toronto Blue Jays to their first World Championship in 1992.

Tony Richardson, a Little League district administrator from New Jersey, will be on hand displaying his personal collection of Negro League baseball memorabilia at the Peter J. McGovern Little League Museum throughout the Jamboree.

Participating in the Jamboree will be Little League programs from the following cities: Gary, Ind. (Gary Midtown Little League); Newark, N.J. (St. Francis Xavier Little League); Tampa, Fla. (Northwest Little League); New York (Parkchester Little League); Atlanta (Ben Hill Little League); Meriden, Conn. (Jack Barry Little League); Houston, Texas (Dixie Little League); Los Angeles (City of Angels Little League); Whiteriver, Ariz. (White Mountain Apache Little League); and Harrisburg, Pa. (Harrisburg American Little League). The specific regular season team from each league was chosen by that league’s board of directors. One volunteer umpire from each league also will participate.

The Little League Urban Initiative Jamboree will consist of games, instruction, and other events to be announced. Although scores will be kept in the games, no champion will be declared.

Little League International is paying the costs for transporting the 10 teams, plus dozens of adult volunteers and parents. Housing for three nights, plus meals, will be provided for the teams in Dr. Creighton J. Hale International Grove, where Little League Baseball World Series teams live for two weeks each August.

On Aug. 24, 2003, during the Little League Baseball World Series, Major League Baseball announced it would provide a grant of $250,000 for the Urban Initiative, part of it will be used to fund the Jamboree. The grant is part of the proceeds from the Major League Baseball All-Star Game Work-Out Day, and will enable Little League to present MLB’s “Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life” educational program to the visiting teams.

Breaking Barriers is an initiative created and operated for Major League Baseball by Sharon Robinson, daughter of the late Jackie Robinson, who in 1947 became the first African-American to play Major League Baseball in half a century.

Little League Baseball and Softball is the world’s largest organized youth sports program, with nearly 2.7 million players and 1 million adult volunteers in every U.S. state and scores of other countries.