Brewers hold Pitch, Hit & Run competition
Two dozen youth baseball and softball players take part in event at Miller Park
MILWAUKEE -- Early on Father's Day, John Suprenand was sitting down the line at Miller Park, leaning over the railing from the front row and taking pictures. But instead of Major League baseball players, his viewfinder was filled with images of his two daughters, who were throwing softballs at a target in front of the visitors' dugout.
His daughters, 11-year-old Alayna and 8-year-old Averie, were participating in the Brewers' team championship round of Major League Baseball's Pitch, Hit & Run competition, presented by Scott's.
"We're lifelong Brewers fans," Suprenand said. "To be able to see your daughters on Miller Park during Father's Day is awesome. That's great, to do it as a family."
Suprenand's kids were two of 24 baseball and softball players between the ages of 7 and 14 who competed on Sunday morning at Miller Park. The competition included running from second base to home plate, hitting balls off a tee into the outfield grass and throwing at a strike zone.
More than 4,000 local competitions take place each year, with participants needing to advance through a local competition and sectionals to reach the team competition held in each Major League city between May 31 and June 29.
The program was started in 1997 as a way to get more people back into the game of baseball. Since then, two current Major Leaguers have participated -- Twins outfielder Chris Parmalee and Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer.
Suprenand's daughters advanced through a sectional that took place at Fox Cities Stadium, the home of the Class A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. His older daughter, Alayna, had advanced to the Miller Park stage two years ago, but she said she had more fun Sunday, when she got to play with her younger sister. John was sitting with his youngest daughter, Addison, who will compete in the 7-8-year old division next year.
Event coordinator Kate Wiebrock said it was appropriate that the family-oriented event was on Father's Day. The cheers of enthusiastic parents echoed around the nearly empty ballpark as each family competed.
"I noticed on one of the kid's cleats that he had 'Dad' written on the back of it, so that was kind of cute," Wiebrock said. "You know how the baseball players honor their dads, so that's kind of the kids' way of doing that for their own dads. It's pretty fun."
And the players were thrilled to have the chance to play on a big-league field.
"It was cool, knowing all the All-Stars that played on that field," said Brenner Cariveau of Rice Lake, who won the boys' 11-12 age division.
Sunday's winners were recognized in an on-field ceremony before the Brewers-Reds game. The top three winners from each age group among all 30 teams will have the opportunity to compete in the national competition during All-Star Week on July 14 at Target Field in Minneapolis. The top three winners will be announced on June 29 on MLB Network.
As for the Suprenands, Alayna finished second in her age division and Averie first in hers. But for Sunday's participants, the experience was more important than the outcome.
"We told them when we got down here, just have fun," Suprenand said. "Don't worry about advancing or winning."
Caitlin Swieca is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.