What better way to further the sport of baseball than through the sport of bowling?
Apparently that’s what Orioles third-baseman Manny Machado thought. Last Thursday, he held the Manny Machado BaseBowl tournament at Mustang Alleys in Little Italy to raise money for Baltimore City Recreation and Parks’ Play Baseball league.
“It is my pleasure to be here with all of you,” Machado said before lacing up his bowling shoes.
“While giving back to the community is not part of your contract, I think it’s part of all our obligations, and you’ve swung for the fences and beyond,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who also attended the fundraiser.
The league is for kids ages 9-12, and is available citywide at 14 different rec centers, chosen geographically to provide uniform opportunity across the city.
The league starts July 10 and runs through Aug. 14.
“That’s just for games,” said Bob Wall, recreation chief for Recreation and Parks, adding that the kids would be traveling for a clinic and a clinic would hopefully be coming to Baltimore as well.
Wall said that he expects about 200 kids in the league.
Machado got involved, Wall added, when his agent contacted Recreation and Parks to inquire about philanthropic opportunity.
“I pitched Play Baseball to them,” said Wall.
He got a phone call the next day.
“They said, ‘Manny Machado would be interested in helping you guys,’” Wall said.
This is the second year of Play Baseball, which last year was funded by Baltimore’s Safe and Sound Campaign.
Play Baseball, Wall said, “is just basically to get the kids out in our parks and be more active.”
Play Baseball is run through Recreation and Parks’ Camp Baltimore summer program, which, according to Wall, has double last year’s participants, with 2,400 kids.
Play Baseball is available through Patterson Park’s Virginia Baker Recreation Center, though Wall said that spots are filling quickly.
For more information, contact the Virginia Baker Recreation Center at 410-396-9156.
by Erik Zygmont