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Put Me in, Coach: Youth Baseball Participation on the Rise

By USA TODAY, 08/27/19, 12:00PM CDT


More than 25 million kids played baseball or softball in 2018, and nearly 15 million of those were "core" players who played 13 or more times in a year. 


WASHINGTON (AP) — David Fox and his wife, Mary Ann, have a rule for their sons, 11-year-old Dewey and 8-year-old Jimmy: They have to play a team sport. The kids get to choose which one. Dewey tried soccer and Jimmy had a go at flag football, but for them, nothing compares to baseball.

"They always came back to baseball," David Fox said. "Every spring or fall we ask, 'Do you want to try something else?' And they say, 'No.'"

Dewey and Jimmy are not alone: Over the past six years, participation in youth baseball has been on the rise.

While no one is saying the erstwhile national pastime is returning to its glory years, Major League Baseball is encouraged that kids are returning to baseball and sticking with it. Between 2013 and 2018, the number of U.S. kids playing baseball and softball combined increased by nearly 3 million, according to annual surveys by the Sports Fitness & Industry Association. During that same period, participation in soccer and football declined and basketball increased only slightly.