In a further effort to foster its relationship with the next generation of fans, Major League Baseball continued its Shred Hate program with a series of PSAs on Monday featuring Rangers pitcher Cole Hamels and Twins outfielder Byron Buxton, who spoke of combating bullying.Each PSA aired on ESPN in conjunction
In a further effort to foster its relationship with the next generation of fans, Major League Baseball continued its Shred Hate program with a series of PSAs on Monday featuring Rangers pitcher Cole Hamels and Twins outfielder Byron Buxton, who spoke of combating bullying.
Each PSA aired on ESPN in conjunction with respective broadcasts for each of the player's games on Monday night. The Twins were visiting the Cardinals and the Rangers were hosting the Tigers. White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson will also be featured in a PSA on May 23 to coincide with a school visit he's making as part of the Shred Hate initiative.
"It's more of a thing where you step in and try to take up for those and give them that strength to be themselves throughout their lifetime to not let that bring them down," Buxton said. "It's more about you bringing them back up and letting them know you are somebody ... You could pass that along to one person and one person leads to 100 and it goes from there. It's just about getting it out there and letting those people know that we have their back and we're behind them."
"I think it takes a lot of courage, but you have to be the light in the darkness; the best version of yourself," Hamels said.
The Shred Hate program was created by ESPN and is supported by MLB and the X Games. Its integration with MLB has been spearheaded by Billy Bean, MLB vice president and special assistant to the Commissioner and a former big leaguer who passionately preaches the importance of utilizing the game's global brand to connect with younger fans in a positive way.
"It's important because our players are so influential," Bean told MLB.com in a phone interview. "We just can't underestimate this incredible time that we're living in, where the players that choose to participate in social media. It makes the fans feel like they know them. I'm super grateful to Byron and Cole and Timmy Anderson for giving up their time. They've shown great passion. When it was proposed to them, they really jumped on board quickly and that is a credit to their understanding to how big a platform all three have in their own way."
As part of the Shred Hate program, there are multiple events on the immediate horizon that will directly connect the players participating and local youth.
In addition to Anderson's school visit, on May 22 kids from Shred Hate schools in the Twin Cities will attend an assembly featuring Twins players and attend a game after. In Washington the next day, the Nationals will host Shred Hate Day, where Bean will be in attendance recognizing the club's participation.
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Bean, who openly discusses the personal challenges he faced when breaking into the Majors in 1987 as a privately gay man, now makes his life's work attempting to prevent others from undergoing such challenges. Bean retired in 1995 due to the double life he felt he was living, and says that his decision to leave the game under those terms remains a regret. He was afraid of the potential response he'd face coming out with a Major League clubhouse as a workspace environment.
Now, as he has since being appointed to his post in 2014, Bean aims to connect with players to communicate the importance of a healthy workplace.
"I think for us to expect that it would just disappear because the person puts on a Major League Baseball uniform is a disservice to not only our players but our own responsibility," Bean said. "Of course there's a possibility that it could still exist, but each and every day, part of my job is to help people understand. We have a wonderful workplace code of conduct. We can't expect the players to know what that means until it's been introduced to them, and that simply states that we have a zero-tolerance policy for harassment or discrimination."
Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @DKramer_.