Summer Fun: Host a Home Run Derby!

organize a community home run derby

Summer is the time of year that everyone looks forward to getting outside and enjoying fun at playgrounds, pools, and ball fields. Community activities are an important way to bring families together and strengthen relationships. Sports leagues, community centers, schools and churches all have a role in organizing activities that cater to all ages. But even the most active areas can run out of ideas for things to do to keep the community entertained. Are your community events seeing a drop in participation?

Why not try something different and organize a local home run derby in your community? After all, nothing says summer like the crack of a ball hitting a bat.

Ever since the first National League home run was hit by Ross Barnes of the Chicago White Stockings on May 2, 1876, Americans have held a deep fascination for the long ball. Home run derbies have become one of the most desirable contests to see during the annual MLB All-Star weekend. Organizing a community home run derby gives everyone a chance to participate on a local level to see who is the best home run hitter in town. Your community can also use the event as a way to raise money for various organizations in need.

In this article, we’ll look at helpful tips on how to organize your community home run derby.

  1. Find a venue. If your organization is a baseball or softball league, this task may be a no brainer, just use your own ball park. But if your ball field is not large enough to accommodate a larger crowd or you don’t have direct access to a field, consider working with one of your local baseball leagues or schools to utilize their fields for the home run derby.
  2. Determine game rules. There are many variations on home run derby game formats. A popular version is to give each player 10 outs (hits without a home run) and see how many home runs they hit. Then eliminate players after each round of play until 1 champion remains. More details home run derby game rules can be found here.
  3. Determine participating age groups for your derby. To make your home run derby as fair and competitive as possible, you’ll need to define and decide what age groups will participate. Adding more age groups will extend your event and bring in more participants and spectators. You can choose from youth, teens, adults, and seniors. You will also want to define different home run distance rules for each age group.
  4. Check local laws and ordinances. When organizing a large event that attracts a large number of people, make sure to check with your local city government to see if any event permits are required. They should also be able to inform you of any other requirements for your event.
  5. Invite local vendors and sponsors. When you attract a crowd to an event, you can take advantage of the extra foot traffic by selling vendor and advertising spots to local businesses. This income can help you cover many of your event costs. You can charge a flat sponsorship fee or a percentage based vendor fee (or a combination of both). Be careful not to overcharge, especially if this is your first event of this type. There are a lot of expenses for a business to set up shop at an event, so you don’t want to cut too deep into their profits. Make sure to check with your local city ordinances for any rules on selling at your event. A business license is usually required in most areas and your event could be held liable if the vendors are not in compliance. Keeping percentage based costs at 10% will help your vendors keep their prices affordable. A flat sponsorship fee can be used to help offset the costs of producing event flyers (as long as you leave space to advertise your vendors and sponsors). When inviting vendors, make sure to include a few different types of food vendors and don’t invite more than one vendor selling the same items. Clearly define the terms of selling at your event and require vendors/sponsors to sign an agreement.
  6. Obtain event awards and prizes. Having lots of fun and desirable prizes on hand to give out is the most effective way to attract a large crowd to your event. You can minimize your expenses obtaining prizes by soliciting local businesses to donate giveaways. Businesses are always looking for ways to increase their awareness and product donations are usually the most cost effective way to do that. For desirable, high-ticket grand prizes, you can ask parents to help pitch in to purchase larger prizes. Give everyone that attends your home run derby by a specific time a free entry into the raffle and then charge $1 per raffle ticket for additional entries. This will entice people to come to at least get their free entry and they will likely patronage the vendors on site while they are at the event. Wait to announce the prize until later in the day and require winners to be present to win to help keep people at your event throughout the day. The money you raise can go towards your organization’s fundraising drive.
  7. Run a Fundraising Drive. Don’t forget to include your organization’s needs into the event agenda. Aside from bringing your community together, your home run derby should help raise funds for a worth cause. Set a fundraising goal that you would like to achieve. The money you raised from the prize raffle will help contribute to that goal, but there are other ways to raise money. Offer a unique product for sale that is not available from your other vendors, like Sports Roses. Sports Roses are handcrafted artificial roses featuring petals made from the same material used on baseballs, footballs, softball and basketballs. You can earn up to $9 for each rose you sell through the Sports Roses Fundraising Program.
  8. Create and distribute flyers to promote event. Your home run derby will not be successful if no one knows about it. Create an event flyer that invites participants and spectators. Advertise your prizes and list your vendors and event sponsors. Don’t forget to include important time deadlines, like when the event starts and when the prize drawings will take place. Make sure to keep your flyer confined to 1 page to save on printing costs (you can also use the back side of the flyer as a participant sign up form). Color flyers will also add to your printing costs, but can also be more effective at grabbing the attention of people. Then make sure everyone in your organization passes out the flyers to their churches, work places, neighbors, and public bulletin boards. You can also try to get your event announced on your local radio and news station, it never hurts to ask.
  9. Don’t go it alone. Partner Up! It takes a lot of planning and work to run a large event. Combine forces with other organizations to increase your exposure and work force. Pick a complementary organization that can fill holes in services that you need to operate your event. For instance a baseball league may want to partner with a church. The baseball league will have the ball field and the church will have the audience. Two groups working together will have a much better chance for success and each group may have past event experiences that the other group may not. Event earnings can be split between the participating organizations.

Recently, we shared some other ideas on how you can make a home run derby fun for kids, parents, and spectators. These ideas included selecting an announcer, setting up other carnival games, offering affordable consessions, and giving away prizes. You can read more about these ideas here.

Don’t let the summer go buy without putting on a successful fundraising event that brings your community together in a fun environment. Fundraising doesn’t have to be limited to the Spring or Fall. Even though school is out, you can still make the most out of the summer off season by organizing a community home run derby. Make this summer one that your city or town is sure to remember.

Have you gained valuable insight into how to organize a home run derby in your community this summer? Which of these tips did you find the most helpful?

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