The University of Central Florida Puerto Rico Research Hub (Hub) will host the second annual “Puerto Rico Baseball Day” on Saturday, March 4. The Hub is partnering with Major League Baseball, the UCF Athletic Department, UCF Baseball, and UCF Global on this special day, which recognizes and celebrates Puerto Rico’s rich baseball heritage, Florida’s unique connection to baseball, and the Central Florida Puerto Rican community. Puerto Rico Baseball Day will feature a youth baseball clinic and a special recognition during UCF’s home baseball game against Georgia Southern Eagles. Last year, nearly 300 community members, UCF students, faculty and staff, and media attended the event. This year we count on the support of different sponsors including: UCF Global, UCF Hispanic Serving Institution Initiatives, Crear Futuros, Arroz Rico, 180 Commercial Real Estate Advisors, Puerto Rican Action Initiative, and Alianza for Progress.
“Every spring 15 MLB teams train and participate in Florida’s Grapefruit league. It made sense to take advantage of this yearly opportunity and connect with MLB to provide some of the activities we have planned for the Puerto Rico Baseball Day,” stated Dr. Fernando Rivera, the founder and Director of the UCF Puerto Rico Research Hub.
The day will kick off at 12:30pm (doors open for check-in at noon) with a special “Play Ball” clinic for youth run by Major League Baseball. The clinic will include instruction from Puerto Rican-born and former Cleveland Indians All-Star, Carlos Baerga. The clinic is open to kids ages 5-12 and is free of charge although pre-registration is required. The clinic will be held at the UCF Softball Complex located at 4055 Home Run Ct., Orlando, FL 32816.
The UCF Knights baseball team will host Georgia Southern at 4:00pm at John Euliano Park on campus. Baerga, who had 1,543 hits in the big leagues and later coached professionally in the Puerto Rican Baseball League, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch. The Puerto Rico Research Hub will provide a limited number of free tickets, with donations encouraged. Tickets will also be for sale at the stadium.
Zoe Colón, Senior Advisor to the UCF Puerto Rico Research Hub adds, “we are excited to provide an opportunity for the broader community to come on campus again this year to celebrate this important cultural practice.”
The state of Florida is now home to more than one million Puerto Ricans, the majority of whom live in Central Florida. UCF is a federally-designated Hispanic Serving Institution, with over 28.5% of the student population being Hispanic. A significant number of these students are Puerto Rican, a population that grew exponentially after Hurricane Maria in 2017.
“We are deeply appreciative of Major League Baseball, UCF Athletics, and UCF Baseball for their support of this important day. This day is about more than baseball, it is about celebrating Puerto Rico’s culture, our community’s diversity and how sports – especially baseball – can bring people together.” added David Dumke, Executive Director of UCF’s Office of Global Perspectives & International Initiatives.
For those who are interested in participating, register using this link: https://mlbplayball.leagueapps.com/events/3754974.
Any questions should be directed to: 407.823.0688 or firstname.lastname@example.org.