During a multi-day, multi-city tour around Opening Day of the Appalachian League, Major League Baseball and USA Baseball officials today announced a series of new investments and programs in Appalachian League communities. This summer and fall, MLB and USA Baseball will partner to bring “Fun At Bat” school programs and USA Baseball Community Coaching Clinics to all Appalachian League communities. These programs will allow kids to develop their skills on- and off-the-field under the guidance of top coaches and mentors, further expanding MLB’s current investment in the region, helping foster an even deeper love of baseball in these communities and reinforcing MLB’s commitment to growing the game at all levels.
Additionally, the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team will play a series of exhibition games in each Appalachian League city over the first two weeks in July, allowing fans more opportunities to see future big-league stars in their hometowns. The Collegiate National Team will kick-off its tour in Danville, Virginia, on Friday, July 2 and conclude on Thursday, July 15, in Bluefield, West Virginia. The full schedule can be found here: 2021 Collegiate National Team Schedule.
Top MLB executives will be engaging with Clubs, fans and local officials as their tour to celebrate Opening Day makes official stops at TVA Credit Union Ballpark in Johnson City, Tennessee; Hunter Wright Stadium in Kingsport, Tennessee; Bowen Field in Bluefield, West Virginia; and Calfee Park in Pulaski, Virginia. The group will also visit Greeneville, Tennessee; Elizabethton, Tennessee; Bristol, Virginia; and Princeton, West Virginia.
This announcement comes as the Appalachian League begins its first season under a new format that features the nation’s top rising college freshmen and sophomores in wood-bat play each summer. As the first collegiate summer league in Prospect Development Pipeline, the Appalachian League is an integral part of the player development and national team pathway for amateur baseball players in the United States.
Morgan Sword, MLB’s Executive Vice President, Baseball Operations, said: “We are incredibly excited to continue our partnership with USA Baseball and deepen our commitment to this region. When we first unveiled the new Appalachian League format, we made clear that we are committed to supporting baseball in these communities. With today’s announcement, we are making good on that promise and furthering our efforts to grow the game.”
Paul Seiler, Executive Director and CEO, USA Baseball, said: “USA Baseball is thrilled to join Major League Baseball in introducing additional developmental baseball programs into the Appalachian League. Our commitment to these communities goes beyond what happens on the diamond; it is to develop and strengthen baseball’s hold in these ten cities and safeguard baseball’s rich history in the region. There is no better way to achieve this than to bolster the fundamental initiatives offered at the grassroots level to the coaches and youth in the Appalachian League. We are also honored for our Collegiate National Team to be hosted by these communities this summer. We could not think of a better opportunity to truly introduce USA Baseball to these communities than to showcase a premier national team experience in their back yards this summer.”
Dan Moushon, the President of the Appalachian League, said: “You could not ask for better partners than Major League Baseball and USA Baseball. Because of their support, baseball is thriving in Appalachian League towns – and will for years to come.”