The Players Alliance tour visits Cincinnati 

December 17th, 2020

CINCINNATI -- The line of cars waiting for food to be loaded in the trunks stretched multiple blocks. It underscored that the need for many people is real this winter.

The Players Alliance Pull Up Neighbor tour stopped at Corinthian Baptist Church on Tennessee Ave. in the Bond Hill section of Cincinnati on Thursday afternoon. Once the cars wound through the line around the parking lot, boxes of food, PPE supplies and some Reds gear were waiting.

“When this pop-up tour came and I saw it was coming to Cincinnati, I said it’s a no-brainer for me to come,” Nationals second baseman said. “It’s a way for us to reach communities that otherwise might not be reached unless we do it.”

Harrison, Brewers pitcher and former Cubs outfielder and free agent are all active Major League players and Greater Cincinnati area residents. Along with former Reds great George Foster, members of the Reds front office and the Reds Community Fund, the group was stationed by a large matte-black Players Alliance semi-truck to help provide supplies.

Thursday’s stop was No. 12 of a 33-city tour for which The Players Alliance and Pull Up Neighbor -- a Black-owned community response team -- joined together to bring resources to communities in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“You look at where we are, here in 2020, all those that need the help,” Harrison said. “It’s not a matter of doing it for notoriety. I think when you have kids, you realize that there are so many other kids out there that don’t have what your kids have, which are the necessities. It kind of puts things in perspective to say there are people who need help and you want to help any way you can.”

The Players Alliance supplied over 500 boxes of food from the Freestore Foodbank and some youth ballplayers also received baseball equipment. Reds chief operating officer Phil Castellini stopped by and was glad the Reds could support the players, offer logistical assistance and local promotion.

“This is a real community, not just Reds and not just player-wise,” Castellini said. “This is what it looks [like] when we get together, collaborate and make a difference. This is the very beginning of what The Players Alliance is trying to do for activation. We are one of many teams that are ready and willing to jump on with them. It’s been awesome.”

In the wake of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in the spring and several other instances of injustice that sparked social unrest, more than 100 current and former Black Major League players formed a nonprofit that was named The Players Alliance and vowed to use their platform and voices to support and give back to the Black community.

The Black community has been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and many underserved children have endured countless losses as a result, including access to education and playing baseball.

Reds reliever Amir Garrett was unable to be in Cincinnati for Thursday’s tour stop but plans on being there when the semi-truck rolls into his hometown of Las Vegas, as well as Barstow, Calif., where he used to live and play youth baseball.

“The Players Alliance, it was a thought that came to life to first, give back to the community,” Garrett said. “It’s important in this time because there are a lot of people in need out there. We’re trying to do as much as we can to help whoever we can in these communities because right now, they need our help.”

On Jackie Robinson Day during the 2020 season, MLB players from across the league donated their game-day salaries to The Players Alliance, raising more than $1 million which the organization is reinvesting in the Black community. Major League Baseball is matching the Alliance’s investment with a donation of an additional $1 million worth of supplies and baseball equipment.

“I was seeing how much good they were doing with the mobile tour,” Suter said. “I love The Players Alliance and I love everything about them. I’m so glad it’s happening. I’ve been wanting and praying to find a way to give back in a safe and responsible manner. This was such a great opportunity for The Players Alliance to come out and show that we care. We want to give back.”

Garrett felt it was especially important for Black players to be out in the community as an example for kids to give them hope that it’s possible to get out of poverty, through education and athletics.

“We’ve got PPE supplies. I know we’re giving out scholarships and stuff like that. We’re partnering up with food banks,” Garrett said. “Even if it might not be that big, it’s little things like that that are showing people that, ‘We see you guys and we’re here to help as much as we can.’”