MLB commits up to $150M to Players Alliance

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred kicks off the first round of the 2021 MLB baseball draft, Sunday, July 11, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)


DENVER — Major League Baseball announced a historic financial commitment of up to $150 million to The Players Alliance.

The announcement was made by Commissioner Rob Manfred at Coors Field shortly before Monday night’s Home Run Derby.

“From our perspective, [having] players alongside and involved makes everything we do better and more effective,” Manfred said. “In terms of the attention it draws to the game and to the issues, it’s really important to us. We see this as a supplement to what we’re doing already, and a way to amplify what we’re doing, not a substitute for it.”

The funding, which will be delivered over a 10-year period, will go toward a variety of programs built around participation in baseball, mentorship and professional baseball employee development. In addition, the funding will include initiatives that celebrate Black baseball history and culture, educational grants and service opportunities to communities.

“All of this is possible because of the players in this game that want to see the game continue to get better and strive in directions that we all know that it can be,” said Curtis Granderson, a former All-Star and the president of the Players Alliance.

“This is a big step moving forward. This is going to allow us to continue to keep doing all the things that we said we’re going to do, that we’ve already been doing. And we are hopefully going to continue to do more things as we build from this moment on.”

All-Stars Marcus Semien, Bo Bichette, Tim Anderson, Taijuan Walker, Josh Hader, Zack Wheeler, Corbin Burnes, Mark Melancon, Al Reyes, Eduardo Escobar and Nelson Cruz were all in attendance for the announcement.

The Players Alliance and MLB had developed a relationship since the nonprofit organization was formed last year. The Alliance reached out to some of the league’s owners to further the relationship, sparking the process that led to Monday’s announcement.

Dodgers owner Mark Walter and Rockies owner Dick Monfort were at Coors Field for the announcement, while Manfred also mentioned Stuart Sternberg of the Rays, Mark Attanasio of the Brewers and John Angelos of the Orioles as being crucial to the process.

“The relationship grew because we were united behind two really fundamental goals,” Manfred said. “First of all, we all wanted to see more young people of color playing our game. We want young people period playing the game, but particularly young people of color. Secondly, we all know that we need more diversity in our game. Not just on the field, but everywhere — front offices, Commissioners Office, everywhere. Those two goals continue to bring these two groups together.”

Beginning in 2023, MLB will provide $10 million annually, plus an additional $5 million in matching contributions from external Players Alliance fundraising. This represents the largest financial commitment in MLB history toward the specific goal of improving Black diversity in the sport on the field, in managerial and coaching positions and front office leadership.

“There’s not an agenda here,” Monfort said. “In life sometimes, everybody’s got an agenda; this is about getting kids that maybe wouldn’t be able to play baseball the opportunity to play baseball. That’s really what we’re all about. … We are all in. As 30 owners, we know this is a game-changer for all of us. We wanted to be a part of it.”

Earlier Monday, the Alliance held a camp for 150 children in the Denver area which was attended by both Manfred and Monfort. Both came away very impressed by the effort, which saw more than 20 former players teaching the game to youngsters.

“If you have my job, that is the best thing you could possibly see,” Manfred said. “It’s just a picture that is all good when you think about the future of our game.”

MLB’s contribution will help fund programs including:

• Programs aimed at increasing the participation of Black youth and young adults in baseball, including funding leagues, equipment, tournaments, clinics, playground activities and other similar efforts.

• Programs designed to attempt to increase the number of Black employees and contractors in all positions and at all levels associated with professional baseball, such as funding for education and training, counselling, internship programs, recruitment programs, and other programs designed to transition players from the field to accounting, managerial, coaching, front office positions and the general business of baseball.

• Programs to promote and support Jackie Robinson Day, appreciation days for the Negro Leagues, and other activities which celebrate and encourage Black participation in baseball and in the business of baseball.

• Player-led mentorship program determined and developed by the Players Alliance.

• Black cultural awareness, camps and other programs designed to increase participation in the sport and eliminate barriers to such participation.

• Programs to support baseball in public schools and city schools.

• Educational grants, scholarships and additional community services to the Black community.

The Players Alliance will also coordinate and collaborate with MLB and its clubs on events, joint initiatives and programs, including MLB-led youth events and competitions, such as the Breakthrough Series, DREAM Series, Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI), the MLB Draft Combine and MLB Youth Academies.

The two organizations will also work together on outreach to amateur and Minor League players and field staff about diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice training, education and awareness through a variety of events, including the “Ahead In The Count” first-year player program as well as the “Prospects and Expectations” program at the Arizona Fall League.

MLB’s financial commitment follows the initial joint contribution of $10 million from the league and the MLB Players Association in September 2020. MLB also donated $1 million worth of youth baseball equipment and personal protection equipment for the “Pull Up Neighbor” tour by The Players Alliance.

Mark Feinsand, an executive reporter, originally joined as a reporter in 2001. Follow him on Twitter @feinsand.


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