CARY, N.C. – USA Baseball today announced the launch of its Homegrown program to provide youth participants with a unique opportunity to learn and grow with athletes from their hometown in fun and interactive settings. The program features two different initiatives – Homegrown Clinics and Homegrown Connections – that will allow Team USA alumni to give back to their hometowns and youth-based organizations that hold personal meaning or supported their overall personal or professional development.
In addition to welcoming USA Baseball alumni back into their communities, the Homegrown program also allows the organization to continue its efforts to increase participation in the sport at the grassroots level. Participants will be connected with USA Baseball National Member Organizations to learn about local league registration opportunities and schools participating in the Homegrown program that are not already part of the USA Baseball Fun At Bat program will be able to incorporate the free initiative into their educational curriculum going forward.
Fun At Bat is part of Major League Baseball’s PLAY BALL initiative–the sport’s largest collective effort to encourage young people to participate in baseball- or softball-related activities. The Fun At Bat program reaches nearly 3.5 million children across all 50 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, Mexico, London and Brazil. The program is available in English, Spanish and Portuguese, and also includes a literacy component focusing on character development and teaching traits such as leadership, teamwork and responsibility.
“The Homegrown program is an exciting chance for our athletes to give back to the places where their baseball journeys began,” said USA Baseball Executive Director/CEO Paul Seiler. “Both the Homegrown Connections and Homegrown Clinics will present unique opportunities for USA Baseball alumni to stay connected to the places that helped them as they started their careers, and we look forward to helping create impactful interactions between these young participants and their hometown heroes.”
The USA Baseball Homegrown program will begin in the fall of 2020 with Homegrown Connections, a virtual, webinar-like experience that will provide youth with a rare opportunity to connect with national team alumni from their community in a personalized setting. Students from elementary schools and youth-based or youth mission-driven organizations will get to know their hometown heroes through these live, interactive events.
The first Homegrown Connections webinar featured two-time Team USA alum Michael Cuddyer on November 17. The webinar consisted of an interactive discussion before concluding with a question and answer session featuring questions submitted by participants from his hometown of Chesapeake, Virginia.
Cuddyer was a member of the 1996 and 1997 18U National Teams. In 1997, he led Team USA in home runs (3), runs scored (8), total bases (15) and stolen bases (3), and tied for the lead in RBIs with six, helping the 18U National Team win the 1997 USA Baseball Team of the Year Award.
He was selected ninth overall in the 1997 MLB June Amateur Draft by the Minnesota Twins and made his major league debut with the club on September 23, 2001. He went on to play 15 seasons in the big leagues, finishing with a .277 career batting average, two All-Star selections and a Silver Slugger Award. After playing 11 seasons with the Twins, Cuddyer was inducted into the Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame in 2017.
In addition to Homegrown Connections, the USA Baseball Homegrown program will also include Homegrown Clinics, which are in-person baseball events for youth from elementary schools and youth-based or youth mission-driven organizations between the ages of 5-12. Set to begin in the fall of 2021, this initiative will allow participants to be given a chance to get outside to learn and play alongside USA Baseball alumni.
For more information on the Homegrown program, Fun At Bat and all USA Baseball Development initiatives, visit USABDevelops.com or follow @FunAtBat and @USABDevelops on Instagram and Twitter.