More than 3,400 young Minnesota Twins fans were able to learn the fundamentals of baseball and softball for free this past summer through a long-standing partnership between the Major League Baseball club and Great River Energy.
Created in 1961 by Twins scout Angelo Guiliani, the Play Ball! Minnesota youth clinics serve as a way to promote the sports to boys and girls throughout the Upper Midwest. The free events, which took place from May through August across Twins Territory, are designed to teach fundamentals like hitting, throwing and defense to youth ages 6-12 in a fun, encouraging atmosphere.
Great River Energy is committed to building strong relationships with the communities served by its 28 member-owner cooperatives. The youth clinics provide a perfect opportunity to bring clinicians representing the region’s professional baseball team out to these communities for a family-friendly experience.
“Our member-owner cooperatives often get to serve as hosts of the clinics that come to their towns, which fosters a connection between the kids, their families and their co-op,” said Andrea Lee, senior communications specialist at Great River Energy.
Clinicians traveled to 44 different locations, including all corners of Minnesota — from Warroad to Forest Lake and Blue Earth to Dilworth — and saw a 56% increase in participation from 2021. Chelsey Falzone, manager of youth engagement for the Minnesota Twins, said 2022 showed the clinics’ highest pre-registration numbers to date for the program, which just wrapped its 62nd year.
Besides overall participation numbers increasing, Falzone pointed to a jump specifically for female attendees.
“A goal was to make Play Ball! Minnesota more inclusive to girls and we accomplished that by adding softball-specific clinics this year,” Falzone said. “Nearly 650 girls attended our clinics this year — almost 200 more than last year — and we hope to see this metric continually trend upwards.”
While the clinics focus heavily on game fundamentals, coaches also took time to stress the importance of education, staying in school and sportsmanship.
“Play Ball! Minnesota clinics are bigger than just baseball and softball,” Falzone said. “These events impact communities, kids and families in a positive way through sport.”