Major League Baseball announced what could be as much as a $150 million grant over the next 10 years to the Players Alliance only hours prior to Monday’s Home Run Derby at Coors Field in Denver.
The funds will help African American kids learn to play and grow an affinity for the the game at the grassroots level.
MLB is guaranteeing $100 million with potentially another $50 million in matching donations to the Alliance, Commissioner Rob Manfred told Sportico after a late afternoon media conference a day prior to Tuesday’s All-Star Game.
“We’ve had extensive discussions about the programs this donation is supporting,” Manfred said. “It’s a pretty broad array of programming.”
The plans include, camps and clinics, showcases, scholarships, food distribution in certain communities, equipment, and front office directed training for employment opportunities, Manfred added.
The MLB Players Association, which was involved with MLB in a previous $10 million contribution to the Alliance, was not a participant this time around. The union and owners are in collective bargaining for a new Basic Agreement. The current five-year labor deal expires Dec. 1.
The Players Alliance is a group of about 150 mostly black former and current players who aligned in the past year to bring baseball to minority communities.
Alliance president Curtis Granderson was present Monday along with current All-Stars Taijuan Walker and Marcus Semien, as well as recent former players such as CC Sabathia and Edwin Jackson. Jackson is a member of the Team USA baseball team that’s headed next week to the Tokyo Olympics.
The players are making a habit of going into the community to lead the clinics, impressing MLB owners such as Mark Walter of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Dick Monfort of the Colorado Rockies, who were also both in attendance.
“They decided to go around the country last winter and give out gloves and hats and baseballs and water and food. And did this during COVID,” Monfort said. “That opened up my mind that these guys are serious.”
Monfort said his fellow 29 owners were unanimous in making the financial commitment.
“That tour this winter, it’s hard to argue with it,” Manfred said. “From our perspective, players alongside, along with, make everything better. We had a clinic today. When it’s a staff clinic it’s nice. But when you have 20 players involved it’s a completely different thing. And in terms of the attention it draws to the game and the issues, that’s very important to us. We see this as a supplement to what we’re doing already and a way to amplify it.”