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Major League Baseball Presents Grant to Little League Urban Initiative

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (Aug. 26, 2007) – Major League Baseball and Little League International, through the Little League Urban Initiative, have made a commitment to nurturing the growth of youth baseball and softball in metropolitan neighborhoods throughout the United States. Before the 61st Little League Baseball World Series championship game that commitment was infused by a third $250,000 grant from Major League Baseball.

Prior to Sunday’s championship game, Jonathan Mariner, a member of the Little League International Board of Directors and Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Major League Baseball, was on hand to make the presentation to David L. James, director of the Little League Urban Initiative, and Stephen D. Keener, president and chief executive officer of Little League Baseball and Softball.

“On behalf of Major League Baseball, I would like to congratulate Little League Baseball on another wonderful season and an exciting World Series,” Allan H. (Bud) Selig, Baseball Commissioner, said. “It is truly representative of the best aspects of our game and we wish to show our continued support by contributing to the Little League Urban Initiative. We hope this grant will further the efforts of the Urban Initiative, which shares many of the same goals as the Major League Baseball Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program and teaches young men and women not only athleticism but also sportsmanship, fair play and camaraderie.”

To date, Major League Baseball has contributed more than $750,000 on behalf of the Little League Urban Initiative.

“Little League Baseball shares the interests of Major League Baseball in providing baseball and softball opportunities for children in urban America, and we are extremely grateful for its generous support,” Mr. Keener said. “With this thoughtful donation to the Little League Urban Initiative, we are confident we can advance the great games of baseball and softball to many more children in metropolitan areas.”

A portion of the grant will be used to help fund the annual Urban Initiative Jamboree, which welcomes 14 regular-season Little League teams from urban communities to Little League International for a weekend of fun and baseball.

“Major League Baseball has recognized the significance of fostering the growth of baseball in urban settings,” Mr. James said. “It is the mission of the Little League Urban Initiative to bring the benefits and opportunities of the Little League program to these communities, so that adults and children alike can reap the benefits of their involvement.”

The Little League Urban Initiative provides assistance packages for eligible leagues that aid the local volunteer group with equipment acquisition, capital improvement cash grants, field development and renovation, access to Little League Baseball and Softball Education and Training programs, advocacy, and networking.

Because many of the Little League Urban Initiative leagues and independent organizations, operating in these environments face the same problems, networking opportunities are crucial to the growth of a volunteer-based organization. Little League encourages mentoring relationships with other Urban Initiative leagues, working toward positive relationships with the appropriate municipal agencies, developing an assessment of their program’s budgetary needs and concerns, and compiling a list of funding opportunities in their communities.

The Little League Urban Initiative has seen success in more than an 85 cities since it began in 2000. Notably, leagues in Houston, Atlanta, and Los Angeles are thriving, with thousands of children participating in Little League over the past seven years. Little League provides a variety of clinics at its five regional centers in Bristol, Conn., St. Petersburg, Fla., Indianapolis, San Bernardino, Calif., and Waco, Texas, as well as Little League International in Williamsport.

The Little League Urban Initiative has recently renovated fields used by Little League programs in San Diego, Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia. Through grants made available to the Little League Urban Initiative by Major League Baseball, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, and Bank of America, the program plans to renovate or develop 10 fields over the next three years.

Through the 2006 Little League season, the Little League Urban Initiative has stimulated the participation of 2,779 teams, which equals out to approximately 33,000 players, and has participated in 23 field renovation/development projects.