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General  | General  | 7/22/2021

PG Cares Hosts 500 For Free Camp in St. Pete

Sydney Ford     
Photo: Perfect Game
PG Cares Foundation’s Grow the Game Fund expands its reach and support into St. Petersburg, FL community

Perfect Game Cares Foundation affirms its commitment to the local community by underwriting free baseball and softball leagues for St. Petersburg youth

Perfect Game Cares Foundation’s Grow the Game Fund seeks to remove economic barriers that stand between kids in underserved communities and their chance to play the sports of baseball and softball

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – The Perfect Game Cares Foundation continued its efforts to provide baseball and softball-playing opportunities to children everywhere, when the non-profit arm of Perfect Game hosted its third free youth baseball and softball camp of the year on Tuesday, July 13 at Historic Oliver Field at Campbell Park in St. Petersburg, Fla.

More than 500 area youth attended the camp for a one-of-a-kind baseball and softball-playing experience under the tutelage of former Major League Baseball players, minor leaguers, college, and high school players.

(Pictured: Former Major League All-Star, Luis Gonzalez, provides batting tips to youth camp attendee.)

The Perfect Game Cares Foundation also teamed with its partners Rawlings, TOP Chops Beef Jerky and Augusta Sportswear to provide free gear and equipment to every child present, including a glove and camp t-shirt. Each child received a swag bag with a mini bat and signed Toronto Blue Jays baseball courtesy of Perfect Game alum and current Blue Jays player, Bo Bichette. Attendees also received two tickets to a Tampa Bay Rays game and a Rays ball cap courtesy of the Rays, and a free meal voucher from nearby Ferg’s Sports Bar and Grill.

This event was made possible with the support of multiple partners who share Perfect Game and Perfect Game Care’s commitment to grow the games of baseball and softball, including Bo Bichette and his mother, Mariana Bichette, the City of St. Petersburg, St. Petersburg Police Athletic League, TASCO Teen Programming, OnPoint Sports Strategies and Westshore Pizza.

Following in the footsteps of its recently announced partnership with Slater Elementary in Atlanta, Perfect Game Cares Foundation and its Grow the Game Fund will underwrite a free youth baseball/softball league for children residing in the St. Petersburg community. The league will play its games at Oliver Field, which was formerly used by multiple Negro League teams, and which has otherwise mostly remained unoccupied.

“I’m thankful for my travel ball coach, Jered Goodwin, and his work with PG Cares, for the City of St. Pete and my friends there,” said Blue Jays shortstop, Bo Bichette. “I’m grateful I was able to help facilitate an amazing camp for St. Pete’s kids as we do our best to bring baseball opportunities to the Burg!”

“Being involved in such a special event was a fantastic experience,” said PG National Scouting Director Jered Goodwin. “The PG Cares family got to see the bigger picture firsthand with the amount of community involvement including the Bichette family, TASCO, local high school coaches and players, PAL, the Blue Jays, the Rays, and St. Pete residents all coming together to produce a massively successful day. The amount of first-time baseball players enjoying the great game was unbelievable. The impactful day was just the start, the follow up is the game changer.”

The St. Petersburg youth camp follows recent Perfect Game Cares Foundation activities in Atlanta and featured the participation of several former Major League Baseball players, including Hall of Famer, Trevor Hoffman (pictured below), Luis Alicea, Lou Collier, Ben Ford, Luis Gonzalez, Tom “Flash” Gordon, Clint Hurdle, Charles Johnson, Denard Span, Junior Spivey, Michael Tucker and Greg Vaughn. Long-time Major League baseball executives Bill Bavasi and Bob Fontaine Jr. also joined the extensive roster alongside Harrison Ray, a current Minor League player in the Toronto Blue Jays organization.

(Pictured: Former Major League All-Star, Trevor Hoffman, provides tips to youth camp attendees.)

Many of the players joined Perfect Game Cares for a caravan visit to Thomas Jet Jackson Recreation Center, where they shared inspiring, personal stories of their upbringings and how they used the sport of baseball to break down the barriers in front of them.

“The youth events, which were strategically chosen due to their historical and geographical impact, provided an outlet for kids to simply be kids,” said St. Petersburg Parks and Recreation’s Shawn Drouin. “Activities like the Perfect Game Cares Youth Baseball/Softball Clinic at Historic Oliver Field and the caravan at Thomas Jet Jackson Recreation Center will undoubtedly make an impact in our community for years to come. Both events highlighted having a passion for something in your life and doing whatever it takes to reach your goals, regardless of how small or big. This is merely the beginning of changing lives and bringing baseball back into South St. Petersburg, and we cannot thank the entire Perfect Game and PG Cares team enough for their dedication and sincere passion for our city and especially our youth.”

“Anyone with a heart can’t help but love the hundreds of young kids we saw in St. Pete,” said Perfect Game President and Founder, Jerry Ford. “These children are extremely talented and very innocent. They truly deserve every opportunity to become successful in life. That is our mission at Perfect Game Cares. It takes a small army to make this happen. We can’t thank everyone involved in making this happen enough.”

"Great things happen when likeminded people come together to help. The commitment of those working in the youth space of St. Petersburg is awe inspiring,” said Perfect Game Cares Executive Director, Jennifer Ford. “We cannot wait to get started implementing long term support of programming for these wonderful kids. We look forward to Growing the Game in St Petersburg."

The Perfect Game Cares Foundation’s Grow the Game Fund is made possible by generous donations from MLB players and PG Alumni, Trevor Story and George Springer, corporate partner TOP Chops Beef Jerky and contributions from others passionate about removing barriers that stand between children from underserved communities and their chance to fall in love with the sports of baseball and softball.

To learn more about Perfect Game Cares and its Grow the Game Fund, please visit PerfectGameCares.org.