MLB and MLBPA Youth Initiatives Announced • Latino Sports

Baseball

MLB and MLBPA Youth Initiatives Announced

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Queens, NY – There were three press conferences at Citi Field prior to Thrusday’s contest between the Mets and Pirates, a Spanish language conference with Mets catcher Rene Rivera, a joint MLB and MLBPA announcement of new youth initiatives to grow the sport of baseball, and the pregame conference with Mets skipper Terry Collins.

The second of the three featured a star studded dais of MLB Commissioner Robert Manfred, MLBPA executive director Tony Clark, former players Marquis Grissom, John Franco and Ken Griffey, Jr. and current players Curtis Granderson and Andrew McCutchen. Former player and current MLB broadcaster Harold Reynolds served as emcee of the event.

The purpose of the conference was to announce the latest advances of MLB and MLBPA’s “joint effort to grow youth baseball and softball throughout the U. S. and Canada.”

These advances stem from the $30 million jointly funded Youth Development Foundation that was created during the 2015 All-Star Week. Both organization heads spoke in concert about their support for growing the sport, especially among minority and underserved youth.

Clark stated, “Players, past and present, remain dedicated to sharing the game they love with others, especially minority youth and youth from communities with limited access to baseball fields and proper instruction. Working together…we can affect positive change in these communities by supporting efforts that improve access to baseball at the grassroots level.” Clark also took time to explain the contributions being made by each of the current and former players that were present.

Manfred’s words were in accord with those of Clark, “Expanding the availability of our great game, particularly to youth from underserved areas, remains a central focus for Major League Baseball and our clubs.”

The three additions to the above stated efforts announced were: a new partnership with PCA (Positive Coaching Alliance) to further improve the training of the youth coaches and administrators from RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities), to increase financial contributions to youth baseball projects such as those created by John Franco in NYC, Marquis Grissom in Atlanta and Curtis Granderson in Chicago, and the appointment of Griffey as Youth Ambassador.

Griffey expressed his desire to accept this responsibility, “I didn’t have to be convinced. I’m excited. Baseball is a wonderful game. Even though I retired six years ago, I think about it [baseball] every day. It’ something we need to do. These kids will come if we have the equipment for them, [uniforms, gloves, bats, balls].”

Reynolds also explained another more practical reason that benefits baseball, “We’re growing the fan base. They can’t all be major league players, [but] the biggest single determinate of a fan as an adult is someone who played as a kid.”

Since six of the eight speakers were African-Americans, it was apparent that the two groups are dedicated to including this population in its program, but the absence of any Latinos on the dais could mean there is insufficient understanding or effort to ensure this youth population is also included.

Latino adults are dedicated baseball fans, the sport is very popular in Latin America and a high percentage of current players come from the southern section of this hemisphere.

About Howard Goldin

Howard Goldin is a 72-year-old Bronx native whose passion for sports is evidenced by his 15 years of sports writing with Latino Sports. A former English instructor at Monroe College, his love for sports started with baseball and have expanded since. If there's a sport or a community event, Howard will be in attendance covering it.

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