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Baseball greats gather for pre-Draft luncheon

NEW YORK -- On a day when baseball celebrates the future of the sport, some of the game's greatest ambassadors from past eras gathered in New York to commemorate the 2012 MLB First-Year Player Draft.

More than a dozen former players, managers and executives -- many still involved in the game -- met at a luncheon at Major League Baseball headquarters on Monday, just hours before the first round of the Draft was set to take place.

"Baseball has changed a bit. But you still have to mix the old with the new," Hall of Fame pitcher Ferguson Jenkins said. "It's still a great game. I love watching it, and I loved playing it."

The list of team representatives at the luncheon included Hall of Famers Tommy Lasorda and Jenkins, recent retirees Ivan Rodriguez and Mike Cameron, Willie Mays Aikens, Luis Gonzalez, Brady Anderson, J.T. Snow, Roland Hemond and Mike Hargrove.

"I'm looking around, and I'm probably the youngest representative in here," Cameron said. "I played with so many teams, so I know everybody. It's pretty cool."

Every pick of the opening round and Compensation Round A of the Draft will be aired by MLB Network and streamed live on on Monday night at 7 p.m. ET, immediately following a one-hour preview show that begins at 6 p.m. ET. Rounds 2-40 will also be streamed live on on Tuesday and Wednesday.'s coverage, sponsored by CenturyLink, will include Draft Central, the Top 100 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. You can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.

Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig will announce the first-round picks while each team's representative will announce the supplemental picks.

"It's a humbling experience for the team to look at me to kind of represent them when they have so many people that are much more experienced in this area than me," Cameron said. "But I wanted to represent them and they've given me the opportunity, and it's a good situation because you run into so many people you played against or that coached or managed against you. It's a great opportunity and I'm very grateful."

Houston has the top pick in the Draft, followed by the Twins, Mariners, Orioles and Royals.

Anderson, the longtime Orioles outfielder and current special assistant to executive vice president Dan Duquette, was looking forward to the O's opportunities to build on their farm system after recent success and with the club's surprising standing in the American League East.

"We're hoping to not have a lot of high Draft picks in the future. That's our goal," Anderson said. "I've been in the Draft here the last three to four days. I think the scouts across the Majors do a terrific and largely unheralded job. This is their time where they're really grinding it out. When you look at Draft board, it's interesting because you can see what happens. That's what's cool about it."

Some of the club representatives were never drafted, but have gotten to see the event gain steam over the past few years to become one of the most exciting days of the baseball calendar year.

"I never got drafted," Jenkins said. "I signed out of high school. They didn't have the Draft system when I signed in '62. It's somewhat different now. And these youngsters see the football and basketball draft, and it's important for them to be drafted. And it's going to have an impact on them."