When Hurricanes Irma and Maria roared through the Caribbean in the fall of 2017, within just weeks of each other, they left in their wake unimaginable devastation and a long road of recovery for communities throughout the region. As the islands work to restore their way of life, the games of baseball and softball can help provide a sense of normalcy for families. To support Little Leaguers® in Puerto Rico impacted by the hurricanes, and to help them to play the game they love, Major League Baseball recently donated $75,000 to Little League International to provide new equipment to young baseball and softball players in need throughout the island.
“The children and families throughout the Caribbean have a long road ahead of them, and if Little League can provide a welcomed, fun activity as these communities rebuild, Little League International is committed to support these efforts,” said Stephen D. Keener, Little League President and CEO. “We are incredibly grateful for the support of our friends at Major League Baseball for this generous donation, which will bring joy and much-needed equipment for our young baseball and softball players in Puerto Rico.”
Little League International will continue to support leagues in need through its Grow the Game and Disaster Relief Grant Programs. This donation provided equipment and apparel for 150 local Little League programs in Puerto Rico, supporting more than 2,000 players. The new gear was distributed throughout the island in the days leading up to the MLB Puerto Rico Series. To recognize the donation, four local Little League players joined Twins left fielder Eddie Rosario and Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor and pitcher Corey Kluber for an on-field ceremony on Wednesday, April 18 at Hiram Bithorn Stadium prior to the game between the two teams.
MLB and Little League’s partnership continues to expand and promote youth baseball and softball opportunities around the world. In August 2017, Little League and Major League Baseball announced their official partnership, celebrating decades of friendship. Little League and MLB continue to work together on special PLAY BALL initiatives, MLB Little League Days, and other projects to promote baseball and softball. In January 2018, Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, Jr., the first Little League graduate to hold the position, was enshrined in the Little League Hall of Excellence. And the partnership will again be celebrated at the second MLB Little League Classic, which will take place on Sunday, August 19, during the Little League Baseball World Series, with the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets coming to Williamsport.