Play Ball! Minnesota was created in 2004 as a partnership between the Twins Community Fund and the organizations that operate youth baseball and softball programs throughout the state of Minnesota. It is a first of its kind collaboration on youth recreation in the region. The goals of Play Ball! Minnesota is to promote and advance the games of baseball and softball for youth.
Play Ball! Minnesota members meet bi-annually to discuss the current state of youth baseball and softball in Minnesota and share ideas to improve the leagues and increase participation. In addition, Play Ball! Minnesota and its member organizations host a youth coaches' conference each spring and sponsor traveling coaching clinics, free youth skills clinics, Coaches' Award program, the Terry Ryan Award for service, the Play Ball! Minnesota Mr. Baseball/Ms. Softball Award and the Play Ball! Minnesota High School All-Star Series.
Play Ball! Minnesota celebrates the start of the youth season at the annual Play Ball! Minnesota Youth Coaches Conference. Minnesota Twins alumni, members of the Twins front office and Play Ball! Minnesota members lead general and breakout sessions. The conference features instruction on a variety of timely and pertinent youth topics. The conference is held at the home of the Minnesota Twins, Target Field.
The Play Ball! Minnesota Coaches' Clinics are free for communities to host and are available through an application process. The current clinic format, developed by Play Ball! Minnesota Ambassador Brian Raabe is designed to teach coaching techniques in all of the key aspects of the game. The clinics are perfect for beginner coaches and are also a great way for experienced coaches to learn new concepts and techniques.
The Play Ball! Minnesota Youth Clinics are available to participants and communities free of charge. The Play Ball! Minnesota Youth Clinics format, which focuses on throwing, hitting and base running, was developed by Twins Senior Advisor to the General Manager Terry Ryan and former Twins executive and current Arizona Diamondbacks Special Assistant to the General Manager Bob Gebhard.
The Play Ball! Minnesota Coaches Award honors youth baseball and softball coaches who work to provide a positive youth athletic experience for their players. Coaching youth baseball and softball should be as much about developing positive character traits as it is about teaching the fundamentals of baseball/softball or creating winning teams.
The Play Ball! Minnesota Terry Ryan Award honors a member of the Minnesota baseball and/or softball community that has been a major leader in supporting the game(s) at the youth level. The award acknowledges significant contributions to the overall promotion and improvement of Minnesota youth baseball and/or softball as well as passion and dedication for the game and its participants. This is Play Ball! Minnesota's highest honor.