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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
June 26, 2005

White House South Lawn Tee Ball

President's Remarks

      White House Tee Ball


June 26, 2005 - 4:00 p.m.

Jackie Robinson South Ward Little League Black Yankees
Newark, New Jersey
South Side Little League Memphis Red Sox
Chicago, Illinois

Program Participants

Honorary Tee Ball Commissioner of the Game: Barry Larkin, Washington Nationals
Play-by-Play Announcer: Fred Hickman, ESPN
Honorary First Base Coach: Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings
Honorary Third Base Coach: Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Alphonso Jackson
National Anthem Singer: Aaron Lucas
Color Guard: The Young Marines

Game Ball Presenters: Reynard Prather and Darnika Cooper (from The Young Marines)

Volunteer Recognition: The President recognizes Jeomera Ayala of Arlington, Virginia. Jeomera Fuentes-Ayala arrived at Youth For Tomorrow, a residential group village for at-risk youth (ages 11-17), in 2003. Youth for Tomorrow combines rehabilitation, faith, academics, and loving care to help youth gain the skills for future success. For the past year-and-a-half, she has been a volunteer at The Barn, an organization that provides support services and programs for homeless/battered women and their dependent children. Once per week, she visits the facility to care for children while their mothers take classes.

Commissioner: The Honorary Tee Ball Commissioner of the Game is Barry Larkin. Mr. Larkin is a 12-time All-Star who spent his entire 19-year Major League Baseball career as shortstop for the Cincinnati Reds . He now serves as Special Assistant to the General Manager of the Washington Nationals. During his playing career, he also hosted underprivileged children at Reds games as part of his "Barry's Bunch" program.

Facts about the President's White House Tee Ball Initiative

President Bush launched his White House Tee Ball Initiative in 2001 to promote interest in baseball and a spirit of teamwork and service for America's youth. This is the fifth year of the President's White House Tee Ball Initiative, and this is the second game of the 2005 season. Teams are selected by Little League Baseball in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and can be nominated online at

What is tee ball?
Tee ball is the entry sport to baseball for young players, generally four to eight years old. Tee ball develops the primary baseball skills of hitting, running, fielding, and throwing and gives children solid teamwork experience. Tee ball is played in every state and territory and in dozens of countries around the world. Participation is estimated at 2.2 million players - 65% boys and 35% girls. Members of two teams take turns hitting a ball off a batting tee set on home plate. Batters try to get on base and advance to home; fielders try to prevent that from happening. The absence of pitching allows children to participate without the fear of being hit by a pitched ball. The players gain an understanding of the fundamental rules.

What is Helping America's Youth Initiative?
This game will honor the President's "Helping America's Youth" Initiative, bringing two teams from the Little League Urban Initiative to play Tee Ball on the South Lawn. The President and Mrs. Bush encourage every American to help children to avoid trouble and lead more hopeful lives.

Research has shown that children are less likely to engage in risky behaviors when they are connected to parents, family, school, community, and faith. Faith-based, community, and volunteer organizations across the nation are involved in efforts to reach at-risk youth and get them involved in their communities. The Little League Urban Initiative, now in dozens of American cities, is one of the programs working hard to accomplish these goals.

Mrs. Bush has traveled around the country highlighting effective programs that are helping children become successful adults. This fall, Mrs. Bush will convene a Helping America's Youth conference to share ideas about what works, as well as to recognize outstanding programs that are helping our children.

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