When I was growing up, we used to sing the Chevy ad jingle, “We love Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet.” It was a familiar chant, especially in the summer when we were actually outside playing baseball. (Just so you know, us '70s kids were tough. There was no softball or T-ball. I learned to play baseball with a standard-issue, horsehide-covered baseball like the pros use.)
It makes complete sense that Chevy has continued its association with baseball. The General Motors Co. division recently renewed its Major League Baseball sponsorship, a partnership that dates back to 2005. Chevrolet will continue to be the official vehicle of Major League Baseball and also becomes the Official Automotive Sponsor of MLB and USA Baseball’s Play Ball initiative.
Chevrolet also is joining MLB and USA Baseball for the second season of the Play Ball initiative, a collaborative effort to encourage participation in baseball and softball activities among all age groups, especially youth.
In addition to year-round local events, MLB and USA Baseball held an inaugural Play Ball Weekend May 14 - 15 that featured youth baseball activities across the country. Over 200 kids gathered at Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers, despite damp spring temps and threatening rain.
Steve Haener, senior manager media, experiential marketing and brand partnerships, brought his two boys out. “They are huge Tiger fans and they are just beyond excited to be here,” he said.
“We feel like Chevrolet, a great American brand, paired with our national pastime, really is a natural fit,” Haener added. “One thing that’s important for our brand is the ability to be authentic and we just feel like it’s just a very authentic connection.”
One thing about baseball that gets lost in today’s competitive atmosphere is the ability to just have fun, and that’s what the clinics aim to encourage in kids, Haener says. No matter how good a player they are, it’s a thrill for kids to be able to play on the same field where their favorite ball players play.
Besides the Play Ball event, Chevy also supports baseball at the youth level in communities across the country through a grassroots, community outreach program called Chevy Youth Baseball.
Participating youth baseball leagues receive equipment, sponsorship checks and fundraising opportunities from Chevrolet, as well as unique Major and Minor League Baseball experiences such as exclusive instructional clinics. In the last 10 years, Chevy Youth Baseball has donated more than 90,000 equipment kits, renovated 9,400 parks and impacted more than 5.2 million kids across the United States.
Finally, the multi-year MLB sponsorship agreement maintains Chevrolet’s exclusive category rights and the car company will continue to present two of baseball’s most prestigious awards: the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award and the World Series Most Valuable Player Award.
I still have my glove and ball from when I was a kid. And I think my neighborhood team might need players. Now if I can just take a page from the Chevy clinics and remember that it should be fun first, competitive second.