CLEVELAND -- Major League Baseball isn't just in Cleveland to play a game, they're also here to help young people develop not only into good players, but good people.
During all star weekend, high school age teams from around the country are in Cleveland to play either softball or baseball and compete in the All-Star Commissioner's Cup and All-Star Jennie Fitch Classic.
The tournaments combine several different programs by Major League Baseball to spread the love of the game among young people.
Competitive play began Friday at League Park and continues until Monday when the champions for both tournaments are recognized on-field prior to the Home Run Derby at Progressive Field.
In addition to the on-field excitement, players will be treated to unique experiences during MLB All-Star Week, including Play Ball Park and All-Star Sunday.
Kansas City Urban Youth Academy Director and Baseball Manager Darwin Pennye says this is an opportunity to teach teamwork, the value of working together to achieve a goal and gives kids an opportunity to represent their city in a national tournament.
"It's a great opportunity for us to have some fun and get our kids better each and every day," Pennye said. "And, for them to have the opportunity to maybe meet some people they would never would meet and expand their network."
However, these tournaments aren't just about hitting home-runs. The league hopes they will expose these young people to something new, such as travel, fellowship wit other players and the opportunity to use sports to reinforce academics.
"A lot of the coaches and myself have learned a lot of life lessons from baseball as well as getting to provide opportunities to kids we may never had as kids as well," said Steve Smiegocki, MLB Youth Development.
"Obviously there's a physical component to baseball. Secondly there's a social -- anytime you engage with other people there's social. We also believe there is an academic environment where you not only learn the game you, learn those soft skills outside of the game; those life skills that will be of use to you in everyday life.," Pennye added.
Everyone involved is hoping that the lessons learned of sportsmanship, teamwork and and knowledge of the game will carry these young athletes through the rest of their lives.
**Don’t miss the All-Star Game Tuesday night, July 9, on FOX 8**