By ROBERTNEY HARLAN
The Dallas Examiner
Major League Baseball looks to change the world of baseball by introducing the HBCU Swingman Classic game during their All-Star Week. Ken Griffey Jr., a 13-time All-Star and Baseball Hall of Famer, spearheaded the inaugural classic, saying his father gave back to the game and now it’s his turn, according to MLB.
The game was the first of its kind, allowing the top HBCU students to showcase their skills on a grand stage. Presented by MLB-MLBPA Youth Development Foundation and T-Mobile, the classic was held at T-Mobile Park in Seattle on July 7. It featured baseball students from historically Black colleges and universities playing in Division I programs. Fifty athletes were chosen from 17 universities. The teams were the American League vs. the National League.
During the game, each athlete played with passion – knowing the historical impact they were making.
For many players, a dream had come true.
“I watched the MLB players play every day growing up, now I am playing in the same stadium. I’m speechless,” said Lorenzo Peterson, right-handed pitcher from Grambling State.
The players put their all on the field and gave the audience an exciting game. The American League came out on top with a close final score of 4-3.
“It was probably the best time I’ve had on a baseball field,” said Ty Hanchey, Florida A&M University left fielder, after the game.
Another goal of the classic was to bridge the gap between the Black community and baseball. Looking at the crowd, it seems the goal is bound to come to fruition. It was a joy to see so many young Black fans come out to watch the ballgame and support the young Black athletes.
The game of baseball is more than just a game. MLB has been constantly looking for new ways to promote change within their company that will make a positive impact in the world. Through their partnership with Chevrolet, they donated Chevy vehicles to military families in need during All-Star Week.
Paul Beckett, the director of the west coast region of Chevrolet and host of the giveaway, talked about the importance of giving back during a one-on-one interview. He highlighted the difference both companies hoped to make through their act of generosity.
“[This is] a different approach than what we have typically done with MLB, but I think this is something that I would argue would resonate a little bit more with everybody involved because it is creating a very powerful moment,” Beckett expressed.
If I were to sum up what I learned from All-Star Week, it would be that baseball is not just a game but a movement that brings the community together. It recognizes the similarities in human beings and creates a space of joy. And last, through the HBCU Swingman Classic game and the Chevrolet All-Star giveaway, MLB is working to make a difference in the world and baseball.
Robyn H. Jimenez/The Dallas Examiner contributed to this report.