NEW ORLEANS -- Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred became the 56th person enshrined into the Little League Hall of Excellence on Friday at the 27th Little League International Congress.Since he became Commissioner in 2015, Manfred has propelled youth-oriented initiatives throughout his tenure, including events such as Play Ball, MLB
NEW ORLEANS -- Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred became the 56th person enshrined into the Little League Hall of Excellence on Friday at the 27th Little League International Congress.
Since he became Commissioner in 2015, Manfred has propelled youth-oriented initiatives throughout his tenure, including events such as Play Ball, MLB Pitch, Hit & Run, the Jr. Home Run Derby, All-Star Week events and Little League Days at Major League ballparks.
"It really is humbling for me," said Manfred, a native of Rome, N.Y., and MLB's first Commissioner to have previously played Little League baseball. "The idea of being honored like this by an organization like this is really amazing for me."
"We're honored to make [Manfred] a member of the Hall," Little League president and CEO Stephen D. Keener said.
"No, it's me that's honored," Manfred said.
Manfred, who visited New Orleans' Urban Youth Academy earlier on Friday, has committed to the growth of youth baseball and softball domestically and internationally, as best represented by his implementation of MLB's Little League Classic, when the Pirates played the Cardinals in August during the Little League World Series at Bowman Field in Williamsport, Pa., home of the LLWS.
With Manfred's continued pursuit to expand and enhance youth programs, MLB and Little League's strategic partnership will host the MLB Little League Classic in 2018 with a game between the Phillies and Mets on Aug. 19.
"What you've done is, you've put renewed energy into what they're doing at the local level," Keener told Manfred.
On Friday, those efforts were celebrated in vibrant New Orleans fashion to affix the city's energy into the ceremony. Manfred's enshrinement featured a local gospel choir welcoming Manfred, Keener and ESPN's Karl Ravech -- the host of the network's flagship baseball show, "Baseball Tonight," who moderated a discussion among himself, Manfred and Keener -- and a marching band leading the convocation in a parade onto New Orleans' energized city streets.
"Since his election, one of Commissioner Manfred's primary focuses has been on the growth of baseball at the youth level," Ravech said.
Manfred's enshrinement, and the three-way discussion, followed an hour-long presentation of Little League's past four years since the Congress' last congregation in Minneapolis four years ago.
Christian Boutwell is a contributor to MLB.com.