2023 PRBD

The UCF Puerto Rico Research Hub and Major League Baseball will host the third annual Puerto Rico Baseball Day on Saturday, March 30. The day will include a free introductory diamond sports clinic for kids ages 5-12, which will be held at the UCF Softball Complex. Check-in starts at 9:30 am, with the clinic starting at 10:30.

A small kickoff ceremony will be held prior to the clinic, which features former MLB stars Carlos Baerga and Candy Maldanado. Both former big leaguers are originally from Puerto Rico, and in addition to lengthy MLB careers, played on the national team as well. Several coaches and members of the UCF Baseball team will be on hand to help with the youth clinic. Baerga, Maldanado, and others will throw out the first pitch as UCF squares off with Texas Tech at 1:00 pm at John Euliano Park.

UCF Puero Rico Baseball Day is intended to highlight the longstanding connection between Puerto Rico, Florida, and baseball. Particularly given that 15 MLB hold Spring Training in Florida, it is only appropriate that UCF host an annual day celebrating Puerto Rico’s unique baseball tradition. Today, Florida is now home to more than one million Puerto Ricans. One out of every five Latinos in Florida is Puerto Rican, and the Orlando metropolitan area is one of the most concentrated regions with Puerto Rican residents. UCF is one of the largest public universities in the country, and Hispanics currently make up 27.5% of the student population, which makes the university a federally-designated Hispanic Serving Institution. The bulk of these students are Puerto Rican.

“Puerto Rico Baseball Day has been an incredibly successful event which celebrates the community’s love of baseball and Florida’s rich baseball tradition. We deeply appreciate the support of MLB, UCF Athletics, and our sponsors for making this even happen once again,” stated Dr. Fernando I. Rivera, Director of the Hub. Rivera founded the Hub after Hurricane Maria devasted the island in 2017, resulting in a surge of the Puerto Rican population in Central Florida.

No prior experience or baseball/softball equipment is necessary to participate in the youth clinic. Participants are advised to wear comfortable athletic clothing, and come ready to have fun!. Participants and their families are encouraged to stay and watch the Knights take on Texas Tech at 1:00pm. Free tickets will be provided. All participants will also receive a free PLAY BALL T-shirt, wristband, and bat and ball set to take home.

The UCF Puerto Rico Research Hub was created to serve as the center of university activities related to Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rican population in Central Florida. The Hub provides essential information about Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rican population to communities throughout Florida and elsewhere in the United States. Through research, educational, outreach, and partnership activities, the Hub has become a model for study and engaging with this growing, diverse community.

The PLAY BALL initiative is baseball’s global effort to encourage young people and communities to engage in baseball or softball-related activities, including formal leagues, special events and casual forms of play. PLAY BALL events have become MLB’s signature youth engagement activity during the professional and amateur baseball and softball calendar, especially on key dates throughout MLB’s Championship Season and through the World Series. PLAY BALL events demonstrate the positive way the game can serve as an outlet for physical activity, fun with friends and learning how to play the sport at its most basic levels.

“We thank MLB and UCF Athletics for their support of Puerto Rico Baseball Day. This special day highlights the powerful role sports has in brining people, communities, and our campus together. This beneficial event brings the Puerto Rican community to campus and encourages kids to both participate and have fun,” added David Dumke, Executive Director of the UCF Office of Global Perspectives & International Initiatives, which houses the Puerto Rico Research Hub and several other international-oriented programs and centers.

For more information, please download the event flyer, here. Registration for the event is requiredhere. For more information, please contact Karen Solla at (407) 823-0688 or karen.solla@ucf.edu.

Posted March 18, 2024