The Mets celebrated Jackie Robinson Day on Sunday, April 15 with a series of events that celebrated Jackie's legacy and impact on and off the field. Jackie's wife, Rachel, and children, Sharon and David, participated in pre-game ceremonies that honored the achievements of the Robinson family. The Jackie Robinson Foundation was founded by Rachel Robinson in 1973 and has provided over $65 million in grants and direct program support to students who have attended over 225 different colleges and universities across the country. Five of those Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholars took 60 young men and women from two Long Island-based youth organizations around the Jackie Robinson Rotunda to learn about the nine values Jackie lived by: Courage, Determination, Teamwork, Persistence, Integrity, Citizenship, Justice, Commitment and Excellence. The group then met with Sharon Robinson and Mets legend Mookie Wilson and heard how Jackie influenced their lives. The Mets also presented Rachel with a framed mural of Jackie, a replica of a newly installed piece in the Mets tunnel where hundreds of fans, players and media walk by every game.
The Baseball Assistance Team is a unique nonprofit organization created to help members of the baseball family who are in need. For 30 years, the charity has provided individuals with medical, financial and psychological assistance, thanks to corporate, foundation and individual funding. Nearly 1,600 players, coaches and managers from all 30 MLB Clubs have collectively pledged a record donation of $3.3 million to B.A.T during the 2018 Spring Training fundraising tour. To date, the organization has awarded more than $38 million in grants, benefitting more than 3,900 members of the Baseball Family.
The Roberto Clemente Award is the annual recognition of a Major League player from each MLB club who best represents the game of Baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field. The Mets chose T.J. Rivera as their 2017 Robert Clemente Award nominee.
T.J. embodies the spirit of Robert Clemente with his determination to overcome the odds, contributing to his team and giving back to the community. He overcame his fear of public speaking by standing in front of a gym packed with 300 students at his alma mater, Lehman High School in the Bronx, to share his inspirational story of achieving his dreams to become a major league baseball player. He participated in the Mets Spring Training Clinic for Champions with athletes from Special Olympics Florida. He took the children of late FDNY firefighter Michael Fahy under his wing during their weekend visit to Spring Training. When teammate Wilmer Flores was injured and unable to host his namesake program, Friends of Flores, T.J. stepped in and met with foster children and their families at Citi Field.
MLB's Mother's Day efforts are highlighted with special programs designed to raise awareness about breast cancer prevention and early detection, while also raising funds to support breast cancer research. The Mets and 29 MLB teams will host the Honorary Bat Girl Contest to raise additional awareness and recognize fans who are "Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer" in their daily lives. Mother's Day games recognize an Honorary Bat Girl and feature special in-park "pink" programming, including pink ribbon logos on the bases and many players using pink bats.
Scotts MLB Pitch, Hit and Run -- the official skills competition of Major League Baseball -- is a free grass roots program which encourages youth participation and emphasizes the fun of baseball. The competitor's ability to hit, run, field and throw is tested at regional trials and compared with others in his or her age group across the United States to qualify for the National Finals held during Major League Baseball's All-Star Game. The Mets host an on-field regional competition at Citi Field and recognize the local winners in a pre-game ceremony.
Major League Baseball teams up with the Prostate Cancer Foundation to increase awareness and early detection of prostate cancer on Father's Day. On-field personnel wear blue wristbands, eye glare and ribbon uniform decals, while blue ribbon logos appear on bases, commemorative home plates and lineup cards. A "Home Run Challenge" fundraising component is implemented during select MLB games to benefit the Prostate Cancer Foundation.
The Mets partnered with the Baseball Tomorrow Fund to host the annual Equipment Drive as part of MLB's Play Ball Weekend. The Mets collected new and gently used baseballs, bats, gloves, balls and helmets that were distributed to Glen Cove High School Baseball Team and Creston Academy Middle School 447 Softball Team. Fans that donated three or more items received a voucher good for two tickets to select Mets home games in 2018. The mission of the Baseball Tomorrow Fund is to promote and enhance the growth of youth participation in baseball and softball throughout the world.
The Mets and the Baseball Tomorrow Fund teamed up to hold a field maintenance clinic at Citi Field to instruct over 30 coaches, groundkeepers and athletic directors from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Bill Deacon the Mets Director of Field Operations & Landscaping, leads the clinic, which helps attendees better maintain youth fields throughout the region. As part of the program the Baseball Tomorrow Fund awards two $5,000 field maintenance grants to purchase field maintenance equipment, supplies or services.
The Mets participate annually in the MLB Players Association Buses for Baseball (BFB) program. BFB gives underprivileged kids in the metropolitan area the chance to attend a Major League game as personal guests of the players. The Players Trust partners with local transit authorities and Major League teams, as well as charitable organizations in Major League cities, to share the thrill of a big league game with kids who need more chances to smile. The kids are welcomed by Mets players who spend time signing autographs, giving away souvenirs and posing for photographs. Complimentary food and soft drinks during the game -- and often the chance to see their names on the scoreboard -- provide lasting memories before the bus heads home.
The Mets partner with Major League Baseball umpires to offer memorable baseball game experiences for children awaiting adoption and at-risk youth in mentoring programs. Children receive a VIP experience including great seats to see the Mets at Citi Field, a goody bag of 'all things baseball', and the unique opportunity to step onto the field for a souvenir baseball and photo.