On Friday, July 7, Major League Baseball (MLB) is hosting its inaugural HBCU showcase game ahead of All-Star Weekend in Seattle, the Associated Press reports. The weekend will open with the HBCU Swingman All-Star Classic and feature 50 players from 17 HBCUs.
The idea was conceived by Ken Griffey Jr., a baseball Hall of Famer and current senior adviser to the commissioner at the MLB.
“It’s all about trying to get seen. I mean, if I can give an opportunity for a kid, one kid, two kids, three kids to be seen, how many kids can that be over the next five, 10, 15 years?” Griffey said.
“How many lives will that one person change? That’s all we’re trying to do.”
The retired outfielder was appointed senior adviser in January 2021. At the time, Griffey spoke to the MLB Network about his new position and how he wanted to instill the love of baseball in young people. “I’m trying to get kids to play baseball. I think it’s the greatest sport in the world, and I want more kids to play,” he said. Now, it seems that his interests have expanded to the underappreciated talent residing in HBCUs.
Griffey spoke about launching this showcase project with the goal to bring more Black baseball players to the forefront, especially as representation dwindles. “My dad gave back to baseball. It’s now my turn,” Griffey told MLB Network in June 2023.
The event will showcase HBCU players from across the country, giving them the opportunity to exhibit their skills and show their school pride. According to Sporting News, two teams, each comprised of 25 players, will compete against each other with MLB scouts in attendance.
“This is an opportunity for these guys to be out there on a big stage, to have some fun with some guys who played the game at a high level and learn some things,” Griffey said.
The weekend will consist of several other events, including an All-Star Futures Game, MLB Draft, Home Run Derby, and, the main event, the MLB All-Star Game.