Saturday, MLB and the MLBPA, and the Atlanta Braves hosted the top 44 elite high school baseball players from the Hank Aaron Invitational for a special showcase game at Truist Park. The players were selected to participate based on their performance the week prior at the Jackie Robinson Training Complex in Vero Beach, Fla., which hosted the bulk of this premier development experience. Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. joined the players to deliver an inspirational pre-game pep talk and encourage them in their efforts. Team Hank Aaron ended up narrowly winning the showcase with a score of 6-5 over Team Jackie Robinson.
According to a release, The Hank Aaron Invitational is a special diversity-focused development experience for kids around the country, held over a two-week period at the Jackie Robinson Complex for high-school-age players (13-18). The Hank Aaron Invitational is operated by MLB and the MLB Players Association and supported by the MLB-MLBPA Youth Development Foundation and USA Baseball.
Before the game, CC Sabathia, Ryan Howard, and Curtis Granderson hosted a Players Alliance Gear for Good equipment giveaway, handing out baseball and softball equipment to youth players. MLB-MLBPA Youth Development Foundation also hosted an equipment giveaway.
Last night, Sabathia, Granderson, Howard, in addition to Bob Kendrick, President of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and Michele Meyer-Shipp, MLB Chief People & Culture Officer joined a Players Alliance AMPLIFIED conversation around diversity in baseball, the importance of access and opportunity for youth within the sport, and how Hank Aaron’s legacy is being upheld.
During the panel, Granderson said: “For the players here today, know it’s possible. We used to be you, and Hank Aaron showed us it’s possible…After Hank Aaron broke the [home run] record, a white fan was one of the first people to come out and greet him. A white fan. That shows you we are all the same. We all come together around the sport of baseball.”