Our chat with Mark Zubizaretta, co-founder of Friendly Baseball in Fort Worth, Texas.
When was Friendly Baseball founded and what is its mission?
We were founded in 2012. Our mission is to provide a fun, free baseball experience for anyone interested in the game. We aim to have everyone of all skills levels playing the game, having fun, and wanting to come back.
What led you to start Friendly Baseball?
When met with roadblocks in the baseball world, I spoke to my friend David about just making an event for anyone to play baseball. We posted it on Facebook, and a lot of people actually showed up to play baseball. We were kinda crazy, just 16 kids running out onto the diamond and throwing baseballs at each other as hard as we could with no gear. Time went on, and more folks joined us, also thankfully more brain cells joined too. So we changed the rules to be more inclusive where your own teams pitcher throws to you. It created a lot of offense, less hit batters, and more people came out. We haven't looked back since.
How does Friendly Baseball aim to impact the community?
Our organization provides a healthy outlet to make friends, be outside, and exercise. Since the games are free, the sport is accessible to all, and not hidden behind a paywall. We see fathers and sons play together, building their relationships. We see individuals struggling with depression or loneliness who come out, make friends and start to feel better. The confidence gained in individuals really shines through when you see people who have never played baseball join us. After only a few months in our group, they go on to join full adult leagues and compete.
Who are some famous alumni or people associated with the WBA?
How can people support the organization?
We are strictly donation ran, so every donation helps us rent fields and buy equipment. Purchases of merchandise really help out also, expands the brand, supporters get something, and a portion helps go to our budget.
What does "Support Local Baseball" mean to you?
We believe it is the connection with our community. Not only letting folks know that we exist where they can play/watch/support, but also so that they feel a benefit too. Last year the High School (Northside) that we rent from was able to purchase gloves for its players. The players come from backgrounds where they can't afford an infielders and outfielders glove. So players were using one glove for any position that they tried. Thanks to the money from renting the field, and our supporter Nokona, we helped give the program brand new outfielders and infielders gloves for the kids to use as they played and learned.
You can keep up with Friendly Baseball on Twitter.