Denver, Colo. May 5, 2003 --National Pro Fastpitch, the nations only womens professional fastpitch softball league, will take its All-Star lineup to 17 cities this summer and partner with a dozen Major League Baseball Clubs to present fastpitch games, clinics and promotions during the 2003 National Pro Fastpitch All-Star Tour.
The National Pro Fastpitch All-Star Tour will launch in Sacramento on June 5, work its way to the Midwest and East Coast before heading south to finish in Houston on August 9 at the 11th Annual RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) World Series, hosted by the Houston Astros. National Pro Fastpitch will begin official league play during the summer of 2004 with six to eight teams.
The National Pro Fastpitch All-Stars will play exhibition games in many cities, squaring off against local fastpitch teams at each stop. Each fastpitch exhibition game site will host family activities such as autograph signings, and offer skills showcases, entertainment, food and merchandise. The athletes will also host clinics for girls looking to hone their softball skills and receive pointers from some of the sports top players.
Weve assembled a great group of top-notch athletes for our All-Star team and were excited about the competition well meet on tour. Our partnership with Major League Baseball gives us a great opportunity to bring fastpitch action to baseball and softball fans alike and really show what women can do on the diamond, said Rich Levine, President and CEO of National Pro Fastpitch.
In 12 cities, National Pro Fastpitch All-Stars will partner with Major League Clubs to reach out to baseball and softball fans with a variety of activities.
The All-Stars will appear at a number of Major League ballparks, sign autographs after baseball games, and participate in special promotions geared towards girls and women.
"This tour is a great chance to reach out to our local Major League communities," said John McHale, Major League Baseball Executive Vice President/Administration. "We think the combination of exciting fastpitch softball games and interactive clinics featuring some of the sport's top females athletes will appeal to our existing fans and bring new fans out to the ballparks."
Members of the National Pro Fastpitch All-Star team will participate in activities hosted by 12 Major League Clubs: Arizona Diamondbacks, Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Chicago White Sox, Colorado Rockies, Detroit Tigers, Florida Marlins, Houston Astros, Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins, and San Francisco Giants.
Major League Baseball is very proud of our relationship with National Pro Fastpitch, said Commissioner of Baseball Allan H. (Bud) Selig. Im excited that it is being embraced throughout the league. This summer we look forward to helping the sport of fastpitch develop, and introducing more women and girls to the joy of participating in fastpitch softball.
One of the tour highlights will be a stop in Chicago to participate in the 2003 Major League Baseball All-Star Week, held July 11 through July 15. Members of the National Pro Fastpitch All-Stars will suit up to play in the RadioShack All-Star Celebrity/Legends Softball Game held on RadioShack All-Star Sunday, and participate in a special Women on the Diamond exhibit at the John Hancock All-Star FanFest at Chicagos McCormick Place.
The All-Star team will also take part in community outreach events and clinics including working with softball players from the Major League Baseball RBI program, an outreach program that brings baseball, softball, and lifeskills training to disadvantaged kids in 185 cities worldwide.
The National Pro Fastpitch All-Star roster features former collegiate All-Americans and national team members. Several players have previous professional fastpitch experience. The final roster of All-Star coaches and players will be announced in mid-May.
All the players are really excited about this tour, said Amy Kyler, a pitcher for the National Pro Fastpitch All-Stars. The partnership with Major League Baseball gives a big boost to fastpitch and womens sports. This tour is great because were able to expose baseball fans to the thrill of fastpitch through our joint activities with Major League Clubs, while reaching our core fastpitch fans at the same time.
Major League Baseball is the Official Development Partner of National Professional Fastpitch in the category of womens professional fastpitch softball. The partnership is part of The Commissioners Initiative on Women and Baseball, a league-wide effort launched in 2000 to help Major League Baseball and the 30 Major League Clubs build stronger relationships with female audiences.
Softball is enjoying an unparalleled period of growth. The success of the U.S. Olympic womens fastpitch team, coupled with the demand for more female sports opportunities, resulted in a 67.3 percent increase in the number of female softball players at the high school level from 1980-81 to 2000-01, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations.
Women dominate the sport of fastpitch, with over 1700 collegiate programs in the United States. In addition, millions of girls at the youth and high school level play slowpitch or fastpitch softball. National Pro Fastpitch is the only professional fastpitch league in this country where these athletes can make fastpitch a professional career, said Levine.
National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) is headquartered in Denver, Colo. The league, created to give elite women fastpitch players the opportunity to pursue a professional career in their chosen sport, has operated since 1997 under the names Womens Pro Fastpitch (WPF) and Womens Pro Softball League (WPSL).
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Carole Coleman or Matthew Burton, Major League Baseball (212) 931-7878
Tracy Boyle, Sander/GBSM (303) 825-6100