NEW YORK -- "Every one of our fans on Sunday should be #CapsOn," Commissioner Rob Manfred said Friday afternoon, and he was standing in a space where a lot of young baseball fans will be spreading that very message across social media.Major League Baseball is being joined by the Yankees
NEW YORK -- "Every one of our fans on Sunday should be #CapsOn," Commissioner Rob Manfred said Friday afternoon, and he was standing in a space where a lot of young baseball fans will be spreading that very message across social media.
Major League Baseball is being joined by the Yankees and Mets to celebrate "National Boys & Girls Club Week" with two teen center renovations at New York-area Boys & Girls Clubs, and for the first one, Manfred and representatives from the Yankees attended a ceremony to unveil renovations of the Frederic R. & Margaret Coudert Clubhouse Digital Arts Center at the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club in the Bronx.
Supported by MLB and the Yankees, renovations include the creation of an elaborate Digital Arts Center with a recording studio. Part of the funds for this project went toward equipment, including sound mixers and monitors as well as a SMART Board System. Lonn Trost, the Yankees' chief operating officer and general counsel, and Brian Smith, the Yankees' senior vice president of corporate/community relations, presented a $50,000 check from the club as part of their annual contribution to Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club.
On Saturday morning, MLB and the Mets will help open a refurbished teen center at the Grenville Baker Boys & Girls Club near Oyster Bay on Long Island. These two projects are part of a $2 million commitment from MLB to renovate or refurbish Boys & Girls Clubs in each MLB club market between 2016 and 2020. The initiative calls for projects that range from renovations of areas of the Boys & Girls Clubs that are in disrepair to total makeovers of the interior, exterior and landscaping, and all projects are designed to help the club increase membership.
"We want to own the next generation," Manfred told the kids and others at the Bronx event. "And because of that, Boys & Girls Club has been a tremendous partner to us. For over 21 years, they've been the official charity of Major League Baseball. One of the first things I tried to do when I was elected was make sure that our relationship, our partnership, was as robust as possible.
"Boys & Girls Clubs does a great thing for baseball. [Take] our Play Ball initiative, and the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities [RBI] program, many of which are run through Boys & Girls Clubs. It's a tremendous partnership, and we appreciate all that Boys & Girls Clubs do for us in terms of making sure that young people like these young folks here play the great game of baseball.
"In an effort to give back in that partnership, Major League Baseball made this pledge that we were going to renovate or improve a facility in each of our 30 markets this year. I've had the pleasure of being at three of the dedications so far. I have to tell you, all of the projects have been absolutely phenomenal, but you kids are really, really lucky. This one here is something awesome."
Before departing for St. Louis this weekend to attend Sunday's Opening Night matchup between the Cubs and Cardinals, the Commissioner reached these young fans and gave some empirical evidence about why their new digital space is invaluable.
"There are 2,000 people who work at Major League Baseball, and 1,200 of those 2,000 people work in the digital media space," he said. "Not everybody can play the game, but it's a great thing to work in the game of baseball, and the skills you can learn next door are a great opportunity for you. So I encourage you not only to get out there and play ball, but also to take advantage of the facility that has been built here for you."
Trost was among the speakers -- proudly displaying two of the club's 27 World Series championship rings.
"The Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club has been a staple in the Bronx as early as Feb. 8, 1915. Just think about that," Trost said. "The theme then, and the theme now, and the formation, was to help the youth grow and develop, avoid trouble and achieve their potential. That's what the Yankees are, and they have been a staple of the Bronx since 1923. Our friendship with the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club is important and continues, as the work of the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club resonates with the community youth in developing and providing for them."
Other dignitaries included Tom Brasuell, MLB vice president of community affairs; actor Malik Yoba of "New York Undercover"; Frank Sanchez, Boys & Girls Club of America national vice president; Daniel Quintero, executive director of the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club; Bronx-based New York City Council members Fernando Cabrera (14th District) and Vanessa Gibson (16th District); and MLB Network host Robert Flores.
As part of the tour, the Commissioner sat in on a recording session with the youth members -- watching intently as Yoba coached a young female vocalist, stressing that she enunciate her consonants. It is all about producing content, whether it be in the form of sound recordings or social media posts.
"This is an exciting day," Smith said. "The New York Yankees are honored to partner with Major League Baseball to recognize a championship organization ... the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club. We have a longstanding partnership that's gone on for a number of years. We've worked together to support, develop and implement a number of outreach initiatives to make a difference in the lives of individuals throughout the surrounding community."
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com and a baseball writer since 1990. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog.