Major League Baseball will once again commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month with an array of events and efforts to spotlight the contributions to baseball by Hispanic and Latino players throughout the month of September. Initiatives include "The Bronx Stickball Classic" - a new youth-focused Stickball tournament in the shadow of Yankee Stadium - special MLB Network vignettes highlighting Latino stars in the game today, social and digital content across MLB's bilingual platforms, and in-park Club celebrations around the league.
The increased activity surrounding Hispanic Heritage Month is an extension of the league's "Ponle Acento" ("Put an Accent on It") campaign, launched in 2016 to highlight the distinctive mark that Hispanic and Latino players and fans leave on the sport. On Wednesday, September 5th, MLB commemorated "Roberto Clemente Day," an annual celebration of the Puerto Rican player's life and legacy. Though the official dates for Hispanic Heritage Month are Saturday, September 15th until Monday, October 15th, MLB Clubs are invited to celebrate throughout the month of September. As part of the league-wide initiative, MLB players will wear a "Ponle Acento" t-shirt during batting practice prior to a selected game in September. To date, more than 170 MLB players and coaches have changed their name presentation to include diacritics (e.g. accent, tilde, etc.) as a result of the efforts of the #PonleAcento campaign. On Opening Day 2018, 258 players - almost 30 percent of the league - were of Latino descent.
Below are some of MLB's efforts in recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month:
NEW MLB CREATIVE HIGHLIGHTING JOURNEY OF "PONLE ACENTO"
The new broadcast spot will debut this month that feature Los Angeles Dodgers star Kiké Hernández and follow the step-by-step journey a "Ponle Acento" accented jersey takes from conception to utilization on the field. The spot is complemented by short animated films for social media highlighting both the history and heritage of Hispanic contributions to MLB and the impact of past and present players on the game.
The spot will air in national assets across FOX, FS1, ESPN, TBS, MLBN, ESPN Deportes, FOX Deportes as well as on MLB digital and social assets. The Spanish version will air on CNN En Español, ESPN Deportes, FOX Deportes and LasMayores.com, MLB's official Spanish-language website.
"THE BRONX STICKBALL CLASSIC"
Major League Baseball and the New York Yankees - in partnership with the New York Emperors Stickball League (NYESL) and the 161st Street Business Improvement District - will host "The Bronx Stickball Classic" on River Avenue between 158th and 161st Streets in the Bronx, featuring youth participants from the New York Emperors Stickball League and other local youth organizations. The event will feature competition between eight 14U Stickball teams, with preliminaries being held on Saturday, September 15th and semifinal & championship rounds on Saturday, September 22nd. The winners of the championship round will be recognized in a pregame ceremony prior to the Yankees' 4:05 p.m. game vs. Baltimore on the latter date. Stickball, a modified game of baseball played with a broom stick and rubber ball, is a prominent street game within the Hispanic and Latino communities.
"PLAY BALL" VISITS PANAMA FOR FIRST TIME
Major League Baseball hosted a special three-city 'PLAY BALL' tour in Panama from Wednesday, September 5th to Friday, September 7th. The tour, which included appearances by former Major Leaguers Bruce Chen, Carlos Lee and Olmedo Saenz, marked the first time the 'PLAY BALL' initiative visited Panama. 'PLAY BALL' has made stops in other Latin American regions, such as Puerto Rico and Mexico.
In 2018, MLB's official Spanish-language social media presence, @LasMayores, will once again be the leading voice of "Ponle Acento" across social media. With live content from nearly a dozen MLB ballparks throughout the month of September, @LasMayores will showcase the strength of Hispanic culture throughout the league.
MLB has also debuted new media platforms designed to provide real-time, quality content to the Spanish-speaking Hispanic and Latino audience, including @Corte4 and Corte4.com - the Spanish-Language counterparts of the very popular 'Cut4.'
Events and special programming planned includes:
• A special visit to Pittsburgh on "Roberto Clemente Day" (September 5) that included a tour of The Clemente Museum with players of Puerto Rican heritage, and coverage of events to honor the great Roberto Clemente and his lasting impact on Pittsburgh and the game of baseball.
• Exclusive content featuring players from across the league as they "put the mark on" on images in their home ballparks using large, physical accent marks.
• A look at the game of stickball and its impact in Latino communities in New York and beyond during the Bronx Stickball Classic on September 15 and 22 in the shadows of Yankee Stadium.
• Participation from social influencers as they push the message of "Ponle Acento" and showcase their proud heritage and MLB fandom.
Clubs will celebrate Hispanic and Latino culture through a series of in-park activities throughout Hispanic Heritage Month. Activations include pregame ceremonies, theme nights at ballparks, alternate uniforms and unique food options.
Below are more details on Clubs celebrations around the League:
Atlanta Braves: The Braves are celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with an extensive number of activations throughout September, including their Los Bravos Reading Event, Dominican Heritage Day, Saborea Atlanta, hosting with the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce the 50 Most Influential Latinos in Georgia, Los Bravos Business of Baseball and Los Bravos Youth Baseball Clinic. All of these events culminate with Los Bravos Day on Sunday, September 16th at SunTrust Park. The day will be a cultural immersion at SunTrust Park that encompasses Latin food, music, and fun while cheering on the Braves as they take the field in their Los Bravos jerseys. As part of the festivities, there will be Latin band performances, Latin country flags hanging from Atlanta Braves bridge and a Facebook Live pregame show with Telemundo starting at 12:30 p.m. Prior to first pitch, there will be a pregame flag presentation by the Latin players' home countries and starting lineups will be introduced in Spanish. Fans who purchased the Los Bravos Day ticket package will also receive a free Los Bravos flag that feature the native countries of our Braves players.
Arizona Diamondbacks: In addition to wearing "Los D-Backs" jerseys - which they will wear five more times this season - the Diamondbacks honored Hispanic Heritage Month with a series of activities inside and outside of Chase Field on Saturday, September 8th. The Diamondbacks hosted a street festival with live music, authentic Latin food, a beer garden, and the presence of the Mexican Pacific Baseball League and their mascots. Inside the stadium in La Terraza, the Club had piñatas, face painters and authentic food and drink options. Other activities included Lindsay Casinelli from Univisión hosting a meet-and-greet, Hispanic-themed music and live performances from mariachi and ballet folklórico dancers and the presentation of the Los D-backs Pete García Hispanic Leadership Award during pregame ceremonies.
Chicago Cubs: To celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, the Cubs are hosting Hispanic Heritage Night at the Friendly Confines. On Monday, September 24th, fans can join the celebration by purchasing specially priced tickets to see the Cubs take on the Pirates at Wrigley Field. In addition to a ticket to the game, fans who purchase a ticket through this special offer will receive a "Los Cubs" T-shirt.
Chicago White Sox: The White Sox will celebrate Hispanic heritage and culture all month long through events, activities and a special exhibit. On Friday, September 7th, the White Sox held Hispanic Heritage Night and Fireworks at Guaranteed Rate Field. Pregame activities featured live Latino music, dancing by Tierra Colombiana Dance Ensemble, a special performance of the national anthem by White Sox community partner, Mariachi Monumental de Mexico, as well as a ceremonial first pitch by former Chicago Bears offensive lineman and member of the Latin American International Sports Hall of Fame Roberto Garza. In addition, fans explored the connection between Hispanic culture and the history of the Negro Leagues through Negro Leagues Béisbol exhibit, a traveling collection from the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum dedicated in memory of White Sox legend Orestes "Minnie" Miñoso (1925-2015). The exhibit will be on display in the Chicago Sports Depot, located near Gate 5 at the ballpark, through September 26th.
Cincinnati Reds: The Reds will celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with "Fiesta Rojos" on Friday, September 28th, featuring ceremonies and activities in the community and at the ballpark. For the fourth year in a row, students from local schools will visit the P&G MLB Cincinnati Reds Youth Academy for a Q&A session with Latino players and interactive stations including pitching and hitting plus salsa dancing. In celebration of Fiesta Rojos, players will wear the "Ponle Acento" shirts during batting practice and Los Rojos jerseys for that evening's game vs. the Pittsburgh Pirates. Activations around Great American Ball Park include a live band and DJ, Honor Guard with flags from Latin countries, Hispanic Community Advocate Award winner and a postgame fireworks show with a soundtrack selected by Latino players.
Colorado Rockies: In 2018, the Colorado Rockies are celebrating their 16th annual Hispanic Heritage Month at Coors Field throughout September. In addition to individually honoring the Leadership Award finalists for their work in the Hispanic community September 3-5, the Rockies also designated Sunday, September 9th as Día de Los Rockies, a celebration of all Latin cultures. The first 10,000 fans through the gates received a Los Rockies Jersey, and were treated to a pregame concert at the Rooftop by Denver-based band iZCALLi. Pregame ceremonies featured a Latin country flag presentation with youth and player participation, as well as the announcement of the overall winner of the 16th Annual Adult Leadership Award. During the game, the Rockies Spanish radio broadcasters announced Rockies batters, some players used Latin music for their walk-up songs, and a bilingual game host led the in-between-inning features with fans. Additionally, Rockies players and coaches will wear "Ponle Acento" shirts during batting practice on Saturday, September 29 to support and celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.
Los Angeles Dodgers: The Dodgers' Hispanic Heritage Month celebration will be highlighted by 'La Gran Fiesta Viva Los Dodgers' on Saturday, September 22nd. The festival is the culmination of the club's season-long 'Viva Los Dodgers' events and will include live entertainment, prizes and autograph sessions with broadcasters and current and former players. The team will also hold its second annual Dia De Los Dodgers on Wednesday, September 19th, complete with a Dodger-themed altar, similar to those used on Día De Los Muertos, behind the Right Field Pavilion where fans can share their baseball memories.
Miami Marlins: The Marlins celebrated Miami's culture, Comunidad 305, by inviting all nationalities to Marlins Park when the Marlins take on the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday, September 22nd. The night features a pre- and postgame fiesta at The 5th Base with live performances. The heritage night celebrates the diverse Hispanic community in Miami. On September 23rd, the Marlins hosts Mexican Heritage Celebration, the club's eighth and final Hispanic heritage celebration of the season. Fans who purchase the ticket package received an exclusive Marlins Mexican heritage jersey. A portion of the proceeds from each ticket package will go to support the Mexican American Council.
Milwaukee Brewers: The Brewers hosted Cerveceros Day on Saturday, July 7th at Miller Park. Now in its 13th year, the celebration honored the heritage and importance of Latin American culture to the great game of baseball. Miller Park took on a Latin American flair all day with scoreboard features and special plaza performances from the Dance Academy of Mexico. On the field, Brewers players and coaches wore jerseys with the traditional "Brewers" script replaced by the Spanish translation "Cerveceros." The national anthem was performed by Nueva Generacíon Performers of Milwaukee. Also during pregame, a special honor guard ceremony celebrated the Latino heritage of Brewers players throughout the organization with flags representing their home countries on display.
New York Mets: On Wednesday, September 26th, the Mets will honor Ozzie Virgil Sr., the first Dominican-born Major League Baseball player. Virgil Sr. will throw out the first pitch on that night's contest against the Atlanta Braves. He will also remain in the dugout throughout the game as an honorary coach.
New York Yankees: As part of a number of themed activities and festivities at Yankee Stadium, singer Toby Love will perform a pregame concert. Alianza Dominicana will offer free dance lessons at Yankee Stadium prior to a game for ticket-holding fans, and discounted tickets will be offered during the month for all Spanish-language Yankee Stadium tours. For the third consecutive year, a special Hispanic Heritage Month supplement in Spanish has been included in the September edition of Yankees Magazine, the club's official game-day program. Yankee Stadium's food service provider, Legends Hospitality, will offer two new items throughout September. "Fiesta de Leche," a Latin-inspired shake that includes tres leches cake, condensed milk, cinnamon and horchata, rimmed with puffed rice and topped by a churro. Additionally, tostones sliders will be available at Frank's RedHot Terrace.
Oakland Athletics: The A's hosted Hispanic Heritage Day at the Oakland Coliseum on Sunday, Sept. 9. The festive day included Luchadores wrestling matches, a pregame performance on the field by Ballet Hispanico Mexico Danza, and a sugar skull bobblehead giveaway for fans. The Oakland A's Spanish-language broadcaster Amaury Pi-Gonzalez served as the club's public address announcer, calling several innings in Spanish.
Philadelphia Phillies: As part of Roberto Clemente Night on Monday, September 10th, the Phillies will host 500+ fans from six different Latino community organizations at that night's game. Then on Tuesday, September 18th, the Phillies will host a private Naturalization Ceremony at Citizens Bank Park for approximately 20 candidates, in conjunction with the Mayors Office of Immigrant Affairs and the USCIS. The newly-naturalized citizens will be recognized onfield following the ceremony. The Phillies will also host their inaugural Dominican Night on Wednesday, September 19th, which includes a pregame ceremony honoring Dominican players and their contributions to Major League Baseball. Highlights include live Dominican music and a giveaway of a trip to the Dominican Republic to a lucky fan. The above-mentioned events are in addition to the team's Latino Family Celebration, which took place on August 16th, as well as various other community appearances scheduled throughout September.
San Francisco Giants: On Saturday, September 15th, the Giants will hold their annual Fiesta Gigantes event at AT&T Park which celebrates the Bay Area's rich Hispanic and Latino heritage with a free, pre-game celebration of food, music and fun for the family. Fans can purchase a special event game ticket package which includes a Derek Rodriguez/Vamos Gigantes t-shirt with a portion of the proceeds donated to cultural non-profits in the local Hispanic community. The Giants will also wear their black Gigantes jerseys for the game as they pay tribute to their deep Latino history.
San Diego Padres: The Padres will dedicate a weekend to commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month. The festivities will begin with "Fiesta in the Park" where fans can enjoy traditional Hispanic and Latin foods and drink specials at Park in the Park, on Friday, September 14th at Petco Park. The club will also recognize Roberto Clemente Day during that night's pregame ceremony. The celebration will continue on Saturday, September 15th, when the Padres award recipients of the seventh annual Hispanic Heritage Comunidad Awards - an award honoring community leaders or organizations that have made significant contributions to the region's Hispanic community - during a pregame ceremony that will also feature dance performances. The Padres will also celebrate Mexico's Independence Day on Sunday, September 16th, featuring a variety of entertainment elements and food and drink specials. On the same day, Mexican Little League teams within the region will attend the game and participate in a postgame Q&A session with a Spanish-speaking Padre player. A special limited-edition Padres-themed sugar skull bobblehead will also be available throughout the weekend with a purchase of a Hispanic Heritage Weekend theme game package.
Seattle Mariners: On Saturday, September 8th, the Mariners donned special "Marineros" uniforms, with the special jerseys auctioned by Mariners Care to benefit on-going relief efforts in Puerto Rico. Former Mariners outfielder, and fan favorite, Franklin Gutierrez will throw out the game's ceremonial first pitch.
St. Louis Cardinals: The Cardinals will be hosting their third annual Fiesta Cardenales Theme Night on Sunday, September 16th. With the purchase of a special Theme Ticket, fans will receive a one-of-a-kind Cardenales cap. Plus, a portion of each ticket sold will benefit the Hispanic Education Cultural & Scholarship Foundation. There will also be a pregame event featuring current Cardinals players and music in the Budweiser Terrace. By the end of the 2018 season, the Cardinals will have broadcasted 39 of their games in Spanish (every Friday-Sunday home game), more than double the amount of Spanish language radio broadcasts in 2017.
Tampa Bay Rays: The Rays will officially launch Hispanic Heritage Month with an extensive celebration on Saturday, September 15th, when they will also be hosting their own Roberto Clemente Day. During the special day, the Club will decorate Tropicana Field with flags representing the home countries of their Hispanic and Latino players, and honor Hispanic community leaders at the ballpark, including those who helped with the Rays efforts to aid Ponce, Puerto Rico following last year's hurricanes. Pregame ceremonies will honor the Tampa Hispanic Heritage, Inc., Hispanic Woman and Man of the Year and Feeding Tampa Bay, the largest food rescue and distribution organization in its community. The team, working with National Puerto Rican Leadership Council Education Fund, will host 200 families displaced to Central Florida following Hurricanes Maria and Irma. They will also host a number of Latino baseball and softball teams from the community. Honoring Roberto Clemente, front office and employees will wear special t-shirts commemorating the Puerto Rican player.
Texas Rangers: The Rangers will host Hispanic Heritage Night on Saturday, September 22nd, with the Mariners in town. The first 1,000 fans to purchase their ticketwill receive a custom El Rancho Texas Rangers soccer jersey. Other in-park celebrations include a pregame presentation and video and performances by a Mariachi band and folkloric dancers.
Washington Nationals: On September 5th, the Nationals honored the contributions of the Hispanic community to baseball and society by hosting Hispanic-themed entertainment throughout the evening. The celebration included music, as well as a pregame flag presentation featuring Nationals players. Additionally, Nationals players and coaches wore "Ponle Acento" shirts during batting practice. Throughout the game, fans also enjoyed video tributes which honored Hispanic athletes who have made significant contributions to baseball.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT ON MLB NETWORK
MLB Network will produce several new vignettes to air on the network and on its social media platforms throughout the month, each focusing on a current Hispanic MLB player, including Ronald Acuña Jr., José Altuve, Miguel Andújar, Javier Báez, Johan Camargo, Maikel Franco, Francisco Lindor, Yasiel Puig and José Ramirez.
All Clubs have developed both Spanish-Language Facebook and Twitter accounts to further engage Hispanic and Latino audiences. MLB.com, Las Mayores and all of MLB's Spanish-Language platforms will celebrate the contributions of Hispanic and Latino players past and present putting special emphasis during Hispanic Heritage Month.
MLB's commitment to embracing Hispanic and Latino culture continues beyond Hispanic Heritage Month. In April of this year, the Cleveland Indians and the Minnesota Twins played a two-game series in Puerto Rico, marking the first regular season series in San Juan since 2004, when the Montreal Expos played a portion of their home schedule at Hiram Bithorn Stadium. In May, the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers met for a three-game series at Estadio de Beisbol in Monterrey, Mexico. The games marked the third regular season series to be played in Monterrey, and the first since the Padres and the Colorado Rockies played in MLB's first-ever international Opening Day in 1999. MLB will stage three different events in Monterrey, Mexico during the 2019 season, totaling six games and all featuring division rivals.