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   MLB All Star - Challenger vs Champions Game 2009Print Page

PONY Baseball and Softball is proud to present the Champions Division.  The new division was hosted by Major League Baseball and debuted at the 2009 All Star game Fanfest activities in St. Louis, Missouri.   Abraham Key, President and CEO was present to kick off the activities.   This new division was approved by the International Board at its Executive Committee meeting in March and will officially be a part of the 2010 season.  It was developed to meet the needs of the physically and mentally handicapped as they pursue their dreams of team sports in one of America’s favorite pastimes.  PONY has always participated in promoting the development of this type of league through its Friendship games at tournaments around the world---now the Champions become the official division. 

Activities for the members of the Champions Division beginning on Sunday, July 12 included playing at the America’s Center which hosted Fanfest as well as playing one inning game against the Challengers of the Little League program on Monday, July 13.  This one inning game, of course, resulted in a tie score.  It was a thrill for them to play in Busch Stadium, to see their names in print, and to see themselves on the video screen that showcases some of Busch Stadiums biggest players.  Hall of Famer, Tony Gwynn was part of the cheering committee and greeted each player as they reached home plate.  The Champions Pledge was written and read by Corey Miller, son of Steve Miller.  It will become part of the program as it moves forward.

This particular team that represented the Champions was from Herrin, Illinois, and began five years ago with two players and has now grown to more than 35.  The group plays every Thursday night and begins in early spring through summer.  Steve Miller, PONY Baseball and Softball,  North Zone Vice President, and his family began the program after Steve returned from a tournament in Joplin, Missouri for USA Baseball.  He could not imagine that the program would not work in southern Illinois and began to contact the local newspapers, television and radio stations looking for players.  Three years later, a second team was developed in southern Illinois as well.

PONY will develop and finalize plans for the language and procedures necessary to create these leagues on an international level.   Protect Our Nation’s Youth represents all children and young adults regardless of ability. 

Below represents some of the highlights of the weekend.   PONY Baseball and Softball are proud to present the Champions!

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