BY RHONDA SIMMONS
Doris Buffett wants to help local youth get a running start in life.
That’s why the Fredericksburg philanthropist is sponsoring the Sunshine Baseball League this summer.
Registration concludes June 10 and play runs from July 5 to Aug. 31.
“I love to see kids learning to do team things,” said Doris Buffett. “The whole idea is to keep them busy, happy and learning something. They won’t be as likely to fall prey to bad characters.”
According to Buffett’s longtime friend Mike Zitz, thanks to Buffett’s generosity this program is free for families who live in the 22401 zip code of the city of Fredericksburg. Zitz added that there’s a reasonable fee for those in the surrounding counties, including Culpeper. The cost for an academy player is $25 and $100 for a league player, according to the program’s website. Folks facing financial needs may apply for SBL scholarships.
Part of Major League Baseball’s “Play Ball,” effort, Zitz said the hope is that the league will engage inner city kids, but it’s open to all from age 6 to 13 and all skill levels.
There’s also a weekly Baseball Academy for 6 to 8-year-olds and league divisional play for age 9 to 10 and 11 to 13-year-olds.
All games will take place at Sunshine Ballpark at 1200 Wicklow Drive off Fall Hill Avenue near Central Park in Fredericksburg.
Announcers will boom the players’ names as they come up to bat, there will be complementary hot dogs, snow cones and drinks for players and their families, and there is a playground for younger siblings.
Zitz also added that the young players will receive Major League Baseball style uniforms they get to keep, and those who don’t have equipment are issued free gloves and balls.
The Sunshine Baseball League is also offering a free clinic for 6 to 14-year-olds from 9 a.m. to noon on June 5 at Sunshine Ballpark. No pre-registration is necessary. Zitz said 15 instructors including former pros, college players and high school coaches will be on hand that day.
Established in 2010, the Sunshine Ballpark Foundation continues the fundraising and program development initiatives that began in 2006 with The Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation’s “Play Ball Fredericksburg” initiative.
According to the foundation’s website, the Fredericksburg Board of Trustees helped raise more than $2.5 million from the community to build phase I of Sunshine Ballpark and has provided resources and programs to more than 4,000 children throughout the Fredericksburg region each year. The new Sunshine Ballpark is designed to host these programs.
To register visit sunshineballpark.org/#!sunshine-baseball-league-registration/c20ir or call Mike Zitz at (540) 846-5163 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Doris Buffett is Warren Buffett’s older sister. Investor Warren Buffett owns BH Media, which is the Culpeper Star-Exponent’s parent company.
Rhonda Simmons can be reached at email@example.com or (540) 825-0771 ext. 125.
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