Here's how MLB teams are commemorating Juneteenth

June 19th, 2022

Several clubs hosted events this weekend to commemorate Juneteenth, a holiday celebrated every year on June 19. Juneteenth marks the day slavery officially ended in the United States in 1865, when Union troops finally delivered word to Galveston, Tex., that the Civil War had ended.

The following is a sampling of how baseball is commemorating the holiday:

Before Sunday’s game with the White Sox, the Astros will present a check to the United Negro College Fund. A portion of the proceeds from Sunday’s 50/50 raffle will also go to UNCF. The nonprofit organization provides student scholarships and financial support to HBCUs and serves as the nation’s leading advocate for the importance of minority education and community engagement.

On Sunday, the A’s will recognize and honor Juneteenth, with five dollars from every ticket purchased at benefitting the Black Cultural Zone, a nonprofit organization which works to help preserve Black culture in East Oakland. Sunday’s national anthem will be performed by Oakland-based award-winning gospel singer Terrance Kelly, while the Black national anthem will be sung by Nique. The A’s Nonprofit Partner of the Game for Sunday will be Umoja Health, whose goal is to increase testing and engagement of Black and African American communities living in Oakland.

The Braves are on the road this weekend, but their foundation, in support of Cobb County NAACP’s Juneteenth Weekend, encouraged fans to attend several free events at Glover Park in Marietta, Ga., to honor the holiday. Friday’s highlight was an Evening Under the Stars R&B Concert. Saturday featured a cultural festival including entertainment, vendors and live music, including a special performance by Grammy Award winner Le’Andria Johnson. On Sunday, the movie "The Pursuit of Happyness" was shown at the park.

The Juneteenth Celebration at Wrigley Field involves a series of activations featuring Black businesses from around the city. A host of businesses were slated to set up shop at Gallagher Way to sell their products and offer up their services as a part of the celebration -- A Black Entrepreneurs Experience. Three Black-owned businesses that have made impactful contributions to Chicago over the years were scheduled to be honored with an on-field presentation recognizing these pioneering Black Chicago entrepreneurs. 

Sunday’s national anthem will be sung by Chicago native and Whitney Young alum Chris Rob, while the Black national anthem will be performed by national recording artist Opal Staples. Artwork featuring Chicago's first Black mayor Harold Washington will be curated by The Kulture Museum. Ceremonial first pitch duties are to be handled by JB Marshall, the CEO of Groove LLC.

The D-backs hosted their celebration on Saturday at Chase Field with a series of events to honor the Black community. The Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church choir, celebrating the church’s 100th anniversary, performed the Black national anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” along with the national anthem. George Dean, Greater Phoenix Urban League President & CEO, threw the ceremonial first pitch, while the Petty Precise Step Team, made up of girls 7-17 years old, performed a pregame dance routine. The D-backs also supported BASE Arizona (Black Alliance & Social Empowerment) in a Juneteenth party on Thursday.

The Dodgers and the Dodgers Foundation hosted Brotherhood Crusade at Dodger Stadium for their annual Juneteenth Circle on Wednesday. As part of #50FeedsLA, LADF and Mookie Betts presented them with a $126,000 check to help those experiencing food insecurity.

On Saturday, Mariners players wore Steelheads uniforms in honor of the 75th anniversary of the lone season in Seattle for the Negro Leagues team. And on Sunday, the Mariners will host a pregame panel, "Generations of the Game.” Former and current Mariners will participate in a roundtable discussion about their experiences playing baseball as Black men and reflecting on the trailblazers that came before them.

The Mets will celebrate Juneteenth on Sunday, which is also Father’s Day. On that day, the Mets donated 500 tickets to local organizations from Queens, N.Y. There will also be a pregame lunch at 12:45 p.m. ET in the Bullpen Plaza with first-base coach Wayne Kirby, outfielder Nick Plummer and right-hander Taijuan Walker. They are going to talk to the group about the importance of Juneteenth.

The Orioles are recognizing Juneteenth by raising awareness for community events at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Saturday and Sunday, as well as broadcasting educational messages on the history and importance of the holiday on the in-park video board both days. On Monday, all club employees have off in recognition of the federal holiday, and the club purchased tickets for employees to visit the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture. Terri Lee Freeman, executive director of the museum, made an appearance on MASN and the O’s radio network to speak about the museum and the importance of the holiday.

On Saturday, the Pirates -- in collaboration with 1Hood Media, Mikael Owunna Studios and The Redd Studio -- hosted “Art as Liberation,” a celebration of Black art and culture on Federal Street prior to the game. The event featured 25 commissioned Black visual artists, music, food and more. Mayor Ed Gainey threw the first pitch. Additionally, several members of the Pirates organization participated in Pittsburgh’s Grand Jubilee parade alongside the Pittsburgh Penguins and Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Reds supported the third annual Paloozanoire Juneteenth Block Party at the DORA District at The Banks before Friday’s game. Activities included a family fun zone featuring Reds mascots and carnival performers, an artist market, live music, DJs, food trucks and more.

Red Sox
The Red Sox are celebrating Juneteenth with a ceremony prior to Sunday’s 1:35 p.m. ET game against the Cardinals. The ceremony will include Springfield, Mass., native and recording artist Michelle Brooks-Thompson singing "Lift Every Voice and Sing," a song that celebrates freedom and African American heritage. The award-winning singer will also perform the national anthem before the game. Additionally, several Boston-based organizations that have had a role in elevating Black voices and stories will be recognized before the game, including the Museum of African American History, Boston While Black, The Partnership, NAACP Boston, and Spark FM Online.

Fans who ordered tickets through will receive a special jersey featuring the Juneteenth flag and also incorporating the colors of the Pan-African flag designed to represent and unite people of the African Diaspora.

The Tigers dedicated the entire weekend to “Negro Leagues Weekend,” including the 26th annual Negro Leagues Tribute Game and the raising of the Detroit Stars flag in center field on Saturday, honoring charter members of the Negro National League. Tigers great Cecil Fielder is scheduled to participate in a fan Q&A on the Comerica Park concourse, and he’ll be presented the Willie Horton African American Legacy Award on Sunday. Friday’s anthem was performed by Rosilyn Stearnes-Brown and Joyce Stearnes Thompson, daughters of former Negro Leaguer and Hall of Famer Norman “Turkey” Stearnes. James DuBose, the grandson of “Turkey” Stearnes, threw out the first pitch.

White Sox
The White Sox are once again working with a local Black artist, Edo, to produce a custom shirt for their Amateur City Elite teams to wear on Sunday at their tournaments. A few of the shirts were sent down to the White Sox as well, who might wear them at some point this weekend in Houston. Members of the ACE teams will be at the ballpark Monday to meet Edo and also hear from historian Sherman Dilla Thomas about the history of Juneteenth.

Other Juneteenth activities around and inside baseball include:

• Youth from communities around greater Detroit had the opportunity to play on Historic Hamtramck Stadium through MLB’s Play Ball program last Friday. The free event featured fun-focused activities for kids ages 5-11.

Located at 3201 Dan Street in Hamtramck, Mich., the stadium was built in 1930 and remains as one of only five major Negro Leagues home ballparks in the United States.

• Internally, at MLB’s Central Office, employees were invited to a "day of reflection and remembrance" -- a session highlighting art and education as a means to reflecting on the historical significance and impact that Juneteenth holds in communities of color and beyond.

As part of the celebration, four members of MLB’s Black Professional ERG members were recognized: Ashley Britt, Brody Cook, Justin Ray and Pamela Rivers.