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Manfred on hand for Commissioner's Cup

@MandyBell02
July 7, 2019

CLEVELAND -- Participants in this year’s All-Star Commissioner’s Cup were preparing to take the field at League Park on Sunday morning when a special guest arrived to say a few words. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred shook each player’s hand and thanked them for being a part of the 2019 All-Star

CLEVELAND -- Participants in this year’s All-Star Commissioner’s Cup were preparing to take the field at League Park on Sunday morning when a special guest arrived to say a few words.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred shook each player’s hand and thanked them for being a part of the 2019 All-Star festivities.

“This is great,” Manfred said. “I mean, just to see how much fun the kids are having, what a great experience. To get to go play baseball at this level -- at the site of the All-Star Game -- it’s just a great thing for the game.”

As Manfred maneuvered through the crowd to reach each team, the eyes of the players grew wider and wider, anxiously waiting their turn to introduce themselves.

“I think our youth efforts are the most important thing that we’re doing out there in terms of the long-term health of the game,” Manfred said. “I think it’s important to show up and show support for what’s going on.”

The Commissioner’s Cup is a special opportunity for kids to participate in the Midsummer Classic, competing against the best teams from around the country, including Puerto Rico, for a chance to be recognized on the field during the T-Mobile Home Run Derby on Monday.

“We’re in a competitive youth environment, right?” Manfred said. “Kids have choices about what they can play, where they want to participate, whether they want to participate. When you give them those unique experiences, I think other kids see it and they want to be a part of it. I think Williamsport is a great example with the Little League World Series. We’re trying to do the same thing with a little older age group here.”

While the big league All-Stars won’t start being seen around Cleveland until Monday, MLB makes sure the week leading up to the big events are filled with potential stars of the future, including the four-day tournament for the teenagers.

“We think about the All-Star Game kind of as a celebration of baseball broadly defined,” Manfred said. “And it’s one of the reasons we’ve tried to build out the programming to include more than our great stars. I mean, it’s important to focus on the stars and acknowledge how great they are, but we want as much of the baseball and softball community engaged as we possibly can get.”

Mandy Bell covers the Indians for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter at @MandyBell02.