MLB honors grassroots stars with DS cutouts

October 7th, 2020

Though fans are not in the stands for the start of the historic 2020 postseason, MLB has managed to cut out space to honor some of its most special supporters.

At the four ballparks hosting Division Series games -- Globe Life Field, Minute Maid Park, Petco Park and Dodger Stadium -- MLB has installed cutouts of many involved in the game at the grassroots level.

When watching Division Series games this week, one would be bound to see cutouts of youth players who have previously participated in the such MLB program as the Hank Aaron Invitational, Breakthrough Series, Elite Development Invitational, DREAM Series and MLB Grit.

Many top young talents have suited up to partake in these diversity-focused amateur baseball and softball events over the years. Operated in association with USA Baseball and USA Softball, they are designed to expose talented high school players to top college coaches.

There is a growing list of youth who have graduated from the above programs to go onto higher levels of play. The 2020 Draft alone saw 23 alumni of MLB’s baseball development programs selected across all five rounds. Among HAI alumni, shortstop Ed Howard was the most notable draftee, going 16th overall to the Cubs in July.

Happy cutouts also depict those who have participated at the MLB Youth Academies, which own facilities designed to provide youth from underserved areas a chance to receive big league-level instruction throughout the year for free or at a low cost. The Youth Academies provide instruction off the field as well as teaching kids about different aspects of the game: from sports law to broadcasting and from umpiring to groundskeeping.

Smiling "faces" have also come from participants of the Trailblazer Series, a special event designed to offer girls from around the US a chance to play baseball in a tournament setting. Since the event's early days, members of the Women's National Baseball Team have served as coaches and mentors for the players.

The RBI Program -- Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) -- also grabbed its share of seats, with players from the 2019 RBI World Series Softball Championship Game present in cutout form. Each year, MLB awards college scholarships to 12 incoming freshmen who are alumni of the RBI program and affords playing opportunities to countless youth in cities around the US.

VIP Seating

In addition to the aforementioned participants, MLB also honored the following groups with cutouts during the ALDS and NLDS:

• Frontline healthcare workers from various hospital systems, including Mount Sinai Health System in New York

• Military service members, including airmen stationed overseas at Ramstein Air Base in Germany

• Essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic

• Cancer survivors and cancer research scientists, notably Dr. Phil Sharp, Nobel Laureate and chair of the Stand Up To Cancer Scientific Advisory Committee

• Boys & Girls Clubs of America youth, namely finalists for the 2020-21 Boys & Girls Clubs of America "National Youth of the Year”

• Team Rubicon, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and the American Lung Association