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Baseball’s power players put real money behind Black participation

The Undefeated – “For a certain type of fan, baseball is one thing: the Major Leagues. But for even more people, the top flight of the sport is more of a vehicle and aspirational body that exists for the purposes of the sport overall. Meaning, anything that happens at the Major League level is a goal worth attaining, even if playing on the actual field is nowhere close to being within reach.

On Monday, Major League Baseball, the Major League Baseball Players Association and The Players Alliance announced that they’re getting together to commit $10 million to “help fund innovative programs designed by The Players Alliance to improve representation of Black Americans in all levels of baseball.”

One of the players involved is Cameron Maybin. A member of the Chicago Cubs, he has been around the bigs for 13 years and was the No. 10 overall draft pick by the Detroit Tigers in 2005. He knows full well, even as the onetime 2004 Baseball America Youth Player of the Year, that even for the best of us, the struggle isn’t easy.

“I think about my father working two jobs and still having to go out and ask people for sponsorships so I could make it to a tournament,” Maybin, 33, said on Monday. “I think about how proud my father was, and as a man, to put your pride aside, and have to go out and ask some wealthy friends, ‘Hey, can you sponsor my child? Because we don’t have the funds to get you this expensive tournament.’ ”

Sometimes, it is as simple as money. And trust me, Black pros know what it takes to get to the top. It isn’t always just training and mastering skills. Showing up, and being prepped, is often the pitfall that effectively stalls or, in many cases, ends careers. So when you ask him what a $10 million pledge can do, it’s an obvious answer.

“What that means to me is just another level of exposure for kids that I know are extremely talented, that don’t have the means to funds, to be seen or play the game that they want to play, because it’s an incredibly expensive game,” said Maybin, who won a World Series ring with the 2017 Houston Astros. “Traveling is expensive. So what happens is, ‘Man, I can’t play what I love, so, guess what, I’ll play something else.’ …

“It just makes it more accessible for these kids to be able to get to these tournaments when you provide them with transportation, when you provide them with lodging, when you provide them with possibly lunch and whatever. A meal during the dinnertime, it goes a long way and it also helps keep interest.” ”

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