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First four World Series games dedicated to important causes

KANSAS CITY -- Five years ago, Major League Baseball introduced a significant addition to the World Series that would involve everyone in some way, even the players and umpires. Because only the first four games were a sure thing, each of those was dedicated with a theme of community service, serving as a high-impact backdrop for what happened on the field.

It all began in New York, with Game 1 dedicated to military veterans and their families. First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of the vice president, joined Commissioner Bud Selig at a nearby Veterans Administration hospital, spending an hour with veterans and then participating in pregame ceremonies before the Phillies played the Yankees.

Today, the annual World Series Community Initiative program is an established tradition that gives two clubs and their fan bases even greater rewards for reaching the ultimate stage of international attention. The Kansas City Royals and San Francisco Giants will each have two dedicated game themes -- starting almost exactly the way it did in 2009 -- to raise awareness for important causes associated with charitable initiatives and MLB partners.

Dedications at the 110th Fall Classic include Veterans & Military Families for Game 1, Education & ALS Awareness for Game 2, Advancing the Fight Against Cancer for Game 3, and Youth Outreach for Game 4. MLB announced the themes and the event details at Workout Day on Monday.

"Major League Baseball is proud to utilize the global platform of the World Series to highlight causes that are important to so many of our fans and our culture as a whole," Selig said. "Baseball is a social institution with significant social responsibilities, and it is a privilege to draw attention to organizations that work tirelessly to address these challenges."

Here is a closer look at the plans revolving around each of the four games:

Game 1: Veterans & Military Families. As it did last year for the opener in Boston, this dedication highlighted support of the Welcome Back Veterans initiative. Selig was joined on Tuesday afternoon by MLB chief operating officer and Commissioner-elect Rob Manfred; Royals chairman David Glass and president Dan Glass; Royals Hall of Famer John Mayberry; U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald; and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral James Winnefeld in a visit with veterans at the Kansas City VA Medical Center Honor Annex. Then there will be a special on-field pregame ceremony and other activities will take place at the ballpark.

Since 2008, MLB and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation have committed more than $30 million to Welcome Back Veterans ( To date, a total of approximately $17 million in grants has been awarded to nonprofit agencies and hospitals supporting returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and their families' greatest needs, focusing on treatment and research of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Game 2: Education & ALS Awareness. So many were involved in the phenomenon of this summer's Ice Bucket Challenge, which was inspired by Pete Frates and Pat Quinn and has raised more than $100 million for research of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. Now the momentum continues. MLB, which held a league-wide recognition of the 75th anniversary of Gehrig's iconic "Luckiest Man" speech on July 4, 1939, set aside a significant portion of the pregame ceremony around ALS awareness and the fight to find a cure.

MLB also celebrated its commitment to education and the legacy of Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson through the Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life program, which is an MLB educational program inspired by Robinson. Sharon Robinson (Jackie's daughter, MLB educational programming consultant and author) visited the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum with children from Faxon Elementary School to discuss the Breaking Barriers program with the students, and one of the 2014 Breaking Barriers essay contest grand-prize winners was honored at the ballpark.

Game 3: Advancing the Fight Against Cancer. For the sixth year in a row during the Fall Classic (now also an All-Star Game tradition), there was a special in-game moment, in conjunction with Stand Up To Cancer. Fans and uniformed personnel in the dugouts, as well as the umpires, held up placards with the names of loved ones affected by the disease. If you have ever experienced one of these moments in the ballpark, then you know what a moving and shared experience it is. MLB and its 30 clubs are the founding partners of SU2C and a lead donor since 2008, committing more than $40 million.

Earlier in the day, representatives from MLB, the Giants and SU2C visited a local pediatric hospital.

Game 4: Youth Outreach. It is everyone's responsibility to ensure the passing of this sport onto the youngest generation, including those in underserved communities. This game will celebrate various initiatives that include Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Little League -- two organizations that receive significant support from MLB -- and MLB-affiliated programs Baseball Tomorrow Fund, MLB Urban Youth Academies and Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI). There will be a special pregame ceremony, and earlier in the day, MLB will host a clinic for young RBI and BGCA participants (ages 8 to 13). Additionally, MLB will hold a showcase for older RBI participants (ages 14 to 18) with collegiate and professional scouts.

Additional community initiatives

In Kansas City and San Francisco, MLB will visit a children's hospital to donate a new Starlight Fun Center mobile entertainment unit containing the latest gaming system that rolls bedside in hospitals to provide distractive entertainment and therapeutic play for pediatric patients. MLB also will host two young fans from the Make-A-Wish Foundation whose wishes were to attend the World Series.

MLB, Anheuser-Busch and TEAM Coalition supported the designated driver programs at MLB ballparks during the regular season with a special incentive: Fans who registered to be a designated driver were entered into a drawing to be the club's official "Designated Driver." The "Designated Drivers" from the Royals and Giants will each receive two tickets and will be honored during Games 1 and 3, respectively.

MLB and the Natural Resources Defense Council will incorporate a variety of environmentally preferable efforts that include the "World Series Green Team" initiative during all World Series games, featuring volunteers collecting refuse for recycling and supplementing existing recycling programs; raising public awareness to educate fans about how to become more environmentally aware via online materials and PSAs; prioritizing recycled content materials at events throughout the Fall Classic; and addressing energy usage through efficiency measures and by investing in renewable energy offsets.

Visit for more information on each of these programs and all of MLB's community initiatives.

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of Read and join other baseball fans on his community blog.