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MLB pledges millions to boost black participation

Major League Baseball announced Monday that it will donate up to $ 150 million to the Players Alliance, a non-profit organization formed last summer by more than 100 current and former black players as a result of the death of George Floyd. The donation is intended to help develop black participation in sport.

“This represents the largest financial commitment in MLB history to the specific goal of improving black diversity in sports on the pitch, in managerial and coaching positions, and front office leadership. The league said in a statement Monday night following an announcement from Commissioner Rob Manfred at Coors Field in Denver, the site of the All-Star Game.

The league, which partnered with the players’ union to pledge $ 10 million to the fledgling nonprofit last summer, said it would start its new financial commitment in 2023 with $ 10 million per year. for 10 years, plus an additional $ 5 million in matching contributions to The Players Alliance Fundraiser.

“We believe in the mission of the Players Alliance and have been inspired by the passion and perspectives of the players who are leading this effort,” Manfred said in the statement. “We know our sport is at its best when it is accessible to everyone. Together, we will make it a reality with innovative and collaborative programs.

The rate of black players in the major leagues has risen from a high of around 19% in the early 1980s to around 8% today. This season, there are only two black American managers – Dusty Baker of the Houston Astros and Dave Roberts of the Los Angeles Dodgers – and only one overseeing a baseball operations department – Kenny Williams of the Chicago White Sox.

The idea for the Players Alliance came about last summer when Cameron Maybin, a veteran outfielder now in the Mets organization, saw video of NFL players saying “Black lives matter” and listing victims of brutality police officers, including Floyd. (The majority of NFL players are black.)

Realizing that not much had been said within baseball on the same topics, Maybin contacted other black players and soon they formed a group where they could talk and organize charitable efforts. Former MLB stars Curtis Granderson, CC Sabathia and Edwin Jackson lead the association.

The group has started a mentorship program for newly drafted black players. They organized clinics and donated materials across the country. They raised funds on the annual Jackie Robinson Day. They spoke to Manfred when he asked about the 2021 All-Star Game, which was originally scheduled to be held in Atlanta, but he moved the festivities to Denver due to Georgia voting laws that critics considered discriminatory.

Granderson, the president of the Players Alliance and former outfielder whose 16-year career included stints with the Detroit Tigers, Yankees and Mets, thanked Manfred and the club owners for their help on Monday. The funding, the MLB said, would go to the initiatives of the Players Alliance, and the nonprofit would also help the league with its youth programs.

“Major League Baseball’s commitment to supporting the Players Alliance is a monumental turning point in the history of our game, setting a course for progress for equity and access for the black community,” said Granderson in a statement released by the league.

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